Biostatistics refers to the science of clinical statistics as it applies to a broad scope of potential careers relating to biology. As one might expect, this means that the majority of biostatistics jobs are to be found in health-related fields, most notably medicine. However, biostatistics jobs can also involve various other fields and industries, such as agriculture, husbandry, veterinary medicine, public health services, wildlife research, botany, and environmental conservation. In addition, the application of biostatistics is expanding to include several relatively new fields, such as medical imaging, ecological forecasting, and statistical genetics.
Whatever the specific field or industry, all biostatistics jobs primarily involve the same tasks, namely the collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation of data. Many times, these duties relate to data sampling in the form of surveying a small number of study subjects or general population volunteers. In this scenario, the biostatistician is also likely responsible for designing the questionnaire or other intake technique and perhaps even advising other personnel on how to collect and distribute the information collected.
Since many biostatistics jobs occupy the field of medicine, it is fairly common to take part in the construction and implementation of clinical trials and studies. As with surveying, the biostatistician provides input on the appropriate sampling size and the best methodologies to collect and analyze the data. However, he or she may also be called upon to recommend innovative experimental designs to accommodate and achieve specific directives. In fact, laying this type of groundwork is critical since governmental funding for the project often requires a preliminary design plan in order to gain approval.
Biostatistics isn’t merely about developing statistical models and tallying results, however. In fact, many biostatistics jobs frequently cross data analysis to quality control assurance and product development. In addition, biostatisticians often work closely with other professionals to develop policies, conduct market research, and implement cost controls, such as economists, insurance analysts, marketing specialists, and computer programmers.
In terms of working environment, many biostatistics jobs are obtained in hospitals, medical facilities, and other clinical settings. However, others may find employment in universities and small colleges. In addition, some biostatistics jobs reside in the government sector under various divisions and agencies.
A career as a biostatistician doesn’t usually require licensure or certification, but does require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in statistics or mathematics. It should be noted, though, that the most successful candidates hold a master's or doctoral degree. Certainly, anyone considering entering this field should possess a strong interest and a demonstrated aptitude in science and math.