Shortage of Statisticians Creates "Hot" Job Market for the Ph. D. in Statistics

Baylor Business Review, Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

Shortage of Statisticians Creates "Hot" Job Market for the Ph. D. in Statistics


Statisticians report "stats" on just about everything: U.S. housing starts, consumption of beef, effective buying income, and even the number of lawyers per square inch in America] How then did they miss something so near to their hearts as the shortage of statisticians that began emerging in the 1990s]

When World War II ended, thousands of service men and women shed their uniforms and returned to college on the G.I. Bill. Among those, a significant number chose to pursue degrees in mathematical sciences like statistics. Today, roughly 40 years later, many of those professionals are retiring and there are not enough people sufficiently qualified to take their places.

What does this mean for graduates who are coming out of college with Ph.D.s in statistics? High placement rates and very, very good salaries]

The job market for statisticians is excellent in business and even better in industry. This is especially true in the pharmaceuticals industry where Food & Drug Administration requirements of three testing levels for new drugs result in an inordinate amount of statistical work, for which there is a shortage of qualified personnel.

Statistics Doctorate--A Competitive Edge

Despite the upsurge in demand for statistics professionals, there are fewer positions in academia for statisticians--which in turn is contributing to a shortage of institutions offering terminal degrees in statistics.

This was exactly the situation that six Hankamer professors embraced in 1987 as they began efforts to establish a doctoral program in statistics at Baylor. Three years of concerted planning efforts with other faculty and administrators culminated in action by Baylor's Graduate Council in August 1990. At that time, the council voted to form the Institute of Graduate Statistics and to add a Ph.D. in Statistics to the university's doctoral level programs.

The institute, headed by statistical experimental design expert Dr. Roger Kirk, is a cross-disciplinary unit made up of mathematics, psychology, and quantitative business analysis faculty. Six of the twelve faculty who teach in the institute are professors in the business school.

Says Dr. John Seaman, "We sought to build a doctoral program with a balanced curriculum that provides students with both the theoretical and applied backgrounds they will need to work in either industry or academia. This maximizes the students' employment opportunities after graduation."

A major experiential incentive of the Baylor program is the 20-hour a week practicum in which candidates provide their services to local businesses and organizations in order to gain valuable training in real work settings. In Waco, students work with the Family Practice Center, M&M Mars, the Waco Police Department, Perryman Consultants, CORD (Center for Occupational Research & Development), and Texas Instruments (Temple). Within the university, they work with the Baylor Consulting Center, the Office of Planning & Institutional Research, the departments of psychology and mathematics, and the school of business.

"It' s important to see and work with doctoral students every day," says Dr. Seaman, who has directed the dissertations of several candidates. "One thing that makes daily contact possible is university sponsored financial support, usually in the form of on-campus assistantships. We've been very fortunate that the Hankamer School of Business has provided such support to several of our candidates. …

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