In 2019, ‘Statistician’ was ranked in the top five careers by USA Today while in 2020, ‘Data Scientist’ took third place in rankings compiled by employee review portal Glassdoor.  So, it seems, the geeks finally inherited the earth. Those of us who were always happiest with analytics and number crunching had, for some time, hoped this would happen – in fact, our models might even have predicted it.

The world is bracing itself for a post-pandemic economic and employment downturn. Yet, young Statisticians, Data Scientists and Programmers should still expect a healthy cross-sector market for their analytical skills.

The careers for Statisticians and Data Science professionals are undoubtedly diverse, with options expanding all the time as we embrace an increasingly digital, data-driven world.  From finance to government, and from market research to education, a young Statistician can always find a niche.

Of course, technology and digital giants offer an appealing option with Google, Facebook and YouTube all regularly hiring for hungry analytical graduates with an ambitious mindset to help inform decisions about user experience, advertising, and platform development.  Anyone who has watched the hit docu-drama ‘The Social Dilemma’ will understand how data and advanced analytics represent the lifeblood of these organisations. As such, big tech roles are often highly paid, and, before the pandemic consigned us to temporary home-working, they also offered tempting perks like campus-style offices, on-site gyms, and Costa coffee stations.

However, when making early decisions about your career options, it is essential also to consider how your work will connect with your values and sustain you intellectually as well as financially.

At this point, I should declare my interests. I reflect and comment as a business owner and a Statistician who has built a rewarding career in the pharmaceutical industry over the last 14 years. I am now immensely proud to help nurture other analytical professionals to join our inspiring sector and to gain value from helping to develop new medicines and advancing healthcare.

A particularly talented and hardworking member of our team, Nancy Carpenter, a Principal Statistician, recently described in a podcast for The Effective Statistician how patient stories personally inspire her.  One moving example she shared was of a father whose life-limiting condition meant that he did not expect to attend his daughter’s wedding. Now thanks to an innovative new medicine he would be able to dance with her at it.

For Nancy, as for many of us in the industry, job satisfaction derives from more than technical problem-solving and a big salary.  There is an enduring fulfilment that comes from seeing a medicine that you have worked on gaining approval and making a real difference to patients’ lives.

In the last 12 months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked devastation around the world, our collective motivation has stepped up a gear. Indeed, 2020 has brought into clear focus the sheer ingenuity and collective firepower of our industry, with everyone pulling in the same direction towards a common goal.

Today, at Veramed, our Statisticians and Programmers are actively supporting pharmaceutical companies with several trials for therapeutics to treat COVID-19 patients. With the world holding their breath and waiting for solutions, our team members have been part of an intense collaborative drive to tackle the effect of the pandemic. They have supported pharmaceutical sponsors with trial design, statistical analysis and reporting for clinical studies investigating promising treatments for COVID-19 patients.  Our work has perhaps never felt so urgent.  Yet, beyond the pandemic, while working on other disease areas such as oncology and neurology, we are always acutely aware of the significance of our activities to patients.

As well as providing fulfilment, a role in the pharmaceutical industry also offers variety with a myriad of analytical career paths available.  As an experienced Statistician, you might get involved in a range of activities from designing a trial to representing results at a regulatory meeting.  Machine learning and artificial intelligence are creating new opportunities by helping make better use of historical data to accelerate clinical development or find new uses for existing drugs.  As these techniques become increasingly mainstream and accepted, the applications and career options only stand to grow.

For me, Nancy, and others, what especially sets a pharmaceutical career apart is the positive and intellectually stimulating working culture. After all, most of the other professionals you encounter are also likely to be value-driven and in it for more than just the solid financial package. We get to work with top research talent every day, often leaders in their field.  For a highly motivating, well-remunerated and varied career with a world of opportunity, joining the pharmaceutical industry as a new Graduate Statistician or Data Scientist could be your next best move. 

Listen to Nancy Carpenter’s podcast for The Effective Statistician here.

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