Careers in Statistics: Government

Jobs for statisticians are found in a variety of local, state, and federal government agencies. Statisticians hold positions in statistical research, survey statistics, computing, survey methodology and design, quality assurance, operations research, and management.

Future statisticians interested in government employment should study economics, finance, demography, and operations research, as well as statistics, mathematics, and writing. Communication skills are important in order to convey statistical aspects of government research and program results to Congress, policy makers, the media, and the general public.

Fields of Application

Statisticians who work in government statistics can look forward to promising careers in numerous fields, including the following:


Law and Justice

Statistics are becoming more important as court cases address increasingly complex problems. Statisticians analyze data that can help the jury or judge decide whether someone is guilty of a crime or must pay damages. Types of evidence that may require statistical analyses include DNA tests, salary discrepancies, and consumer surveys.



Forestry statisticians use a scientific process of measurement, analysis, and deduction to study the effects of climate, weather, animals, and atmospheric conditions. How trees grow, develop, propagate, and interact with each other and with their environment are just some of the issues of interest to the forest biometrician.



Statistical methods are widely used in government regulation, including making rules for trading stocks, setting standards for pure air, and approving new drugs. Statistics are cited in court proceedings, congressional hearings, and lobbying arguments.



Statisticians in agriculture study a number of challenging questions in areas such as chemical pesticides, hydrogeology, veterinary sciences, genetics, and crop management. They work with data from a broad range of biological units, from the smallest scale of organisms, like viruses and bacteria, to plants, insects, animals, and humans.


National Defense

Statisticians work with other scientists, policy makers, and military personnel to address questions of defense and national security. Activities can be very applied, involving collecting and analyzing data, or more theoretical, including developing new methods and models.



Statisticians produce and analyze the federal government's key economic indicators. These include measures of unemployment, inflation, market volumes, and other indicators that influence government policies and financial markets. Since these indicators are based on sample survey data, skills in sampling and estimation techniques are highly valued by many statistical agencies.



Statisticians address questions about the earth's natural environment, including animal populations, agricultural protections, and fertilizer and pesticide safety. Scientific researchers work with statisticians, often at universities, to design experiments that will answer questions about the effects of government policies on the environment.



Through sample surveys and censuses, statisticians produce demographic and economic portraits of the nation. Statisticians carry out research on such topics as time series analysis, estimation, sampling frame comparison, treatment of nonresponse, and statistical approaches to maintaining confidentiality of respondent data.