Build a Sureshot Career in Biostatistics

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Biostatistics Top Courses, Colleges and Career Prospects

Biostatistics as an academic discipline is relatively young and has emerged as one of the most in-demand statistical studies in medicine, biology, and public health. It is significantly utilized for research projects involving high-intensity analysis such as drug-related data, causes of cancer and other diseases, and how long a person with a specific illness is likely to survive. It’s a medical science field that is evolving at a swift rate and merging with the subjects of mathematics and statistics. If you are interested in this dynamic field and want to pursue a career in Biostatistics, continue reading this blog to know all about this crucial element of medical science.

What is Biostatistics?

Biostatistics is that subfield of medical science that utilizes mathematical and statistical data and converts them into knowledge regarding a specific diagnosis or prognosis. In simple words, biostatistics is a branch of statistics that deals with data related to living organisms.

Biostatisticians as their job objectives utilize their quantitative skills to team with experts such as biologists and cancer specialists to ensure that enough data and the right kind of information are collected for future analysis. To give us a comprehensive understanding of the subject Biostatistics, this is how the German Association for Medical Informatics, Biometry, and Epidemiology (GMDS) has described the aspects of Biostatistics:

  • Medical Biostatistics develops, implements, and uses statistical and mathematical methods to gain knowledge from accumulating medical data. This data is later converted into statistically valid interpretations and suitable presentations, which the public and individual medical disciplines can understand in layman’s terms. 
  • Medical Informatics, an aspect of Biostatistics, also assists in the systematic development, management, storage, processing, and provision of data, information, and knowledge in medicine and healthcare.
  • Biostatistics is a discipline that also uses applications of computer-based methods to answer biomolecular and biomedical research questions. This is conducted mainly by focusing on models and algorithms for data on the molecular and cell-biological levels.

Did you know: The Biostatistics Unit of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute has discovered that treating school-aged children periodically with praziquantel has decreased the prevalence of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in sub-Saharan Africa by almost 60% during the past 20 years. The spatiotemporal modelling study was led by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, in collaboration with WHO, the University of Basel and partners. 

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Why Study Biostatistics?

  • Behind countless public health and medical industry breakthroughs and state-of-the-art developments, there are the toiling works of multiple data and coding translators, problem-solvers, and artists of biostatistics. 
  • If you are equally passionate about giving back to society or see yourself in a position where your love for data and problem solving can help the community, this is a suitable occupation for you.
  • One beneficial perk of the job is that biostatisticians get the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from diverse scientific fields as statistical skills are required and applied everywhere. 
  • Through this opportunity, you might get the chance to be a part of a new scientific discovery and solve other scientific mysteries primarily focused on human health.
  • If you are interested in a job that provides certainty and the same work cycle, then biostatistics is not the place for you as this is a dynamic work field where you deal with a new case every day.

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Top Colleges Abroad for Biostatistics Courses 

To clearly define the top universities in the Biostatistics field we have to consider the broader spectrum of ‘Statistics and Operational Research’ as Biostatistics is a sub-field category in it. Here is a list of the top universities for pursuing the Biostatistics course:

Universities  Location 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Switzerland 
Stanford University USA
Harvard University USA
University of Oxford UK
University of Cambridge UK
University of California, Berkeley USA
Imperial College London UK
Georgia Institute of Technology USA
Carnegie Mellon University USA

Eligibility Criteria for Biostatistics Course

As many universities do not offer a biostatistics course directly, you need to opt for the Epidemiology and Statistical Research course (or one of the sub-fields) when applying to your shortlisted universities. The generic requirements for studying Biostatistics are as follows:

  • To enlist for an undergraduate course in Biostatistics, students must have an academic history of at least 55% as aggregate marks during their 12th standard and undertake a combination of science steam subjects with mathematics.
  • There may be instances where universities may also conduct entrance exams for the admittance of new aspirants.
  • While applying for postgraduate courses in Biostatistics, students are required to qualify in the entrance examination held by the respective university, followed by a personal interview
  • It is also necessary for the applicant to score at least 50% in medical or 55% in non-medical courses during their undergraduate curriculum.
  • As the statistical research field is highly in-demand by students aspiring for a PhD degree, students need to qualify for the entrance exam organized by the university to get into this doctorate course.

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How to Become a Biostatistician?

The route to becoming a biostatistician requires a significant amount of knowledge and education. Even if you pass out with a bachelor’s degree in Biostatistics, there are few opportunities unless you go for a higher degree. Besides teaching, your overall practical experience in this field also plays a vital role in getting you a professional job. Let’s have a look at the step-by-step process of how to become a biostatistician.

Step 1: Get a Quantitative Bachelor’s Degree

  • Starting from your undergraduate, focus on achieving a bachelor’s degree like Bachelors in Biostatistics or BSc in Biostatistics with a specialized subject that emphasizes your quantitative skills, i.e., mathematics or any other quantitative field. 
  • Suppose you are one of them who plans to pursue a master’s degree in the same field of biostatistics. In that case, it is essential to choose relevant modules related to maths or science during your undergraduate course.
  • To be a competitive aspirant for a Master’s degree in Biostatistics, you must pass from a bachelor’s curriculum with prerequisite coursework in statistics, linear algebra, experimental design, and probability theory.
  • If you plan to pursue a job after graduation directly, then keep it in utmost priority to go for modules that consist of statistics with medical science and a few research experiences.
  • Another beneficiary tip that might help you is to take an elective in the biostatistics-related course if your college offers it. Some colleges provide various biostatistics-related courses such as data mining, stochastic processes, and applied survival analysis which are all parts related to biostatistics and will help you in the long run.

Step 2: Gain Real-World Experience and Sharpen Skills

  • A great way to sharpen your skill and apply them to the real-world setting is to get a job. 
  • Undertaking a job or a professional research project before your Master’s degree can significantly benefit your higher education in this field. 
  • It is comparatively easy to get a job after earning a bachelor’s degree, but it is not easy to get a master’s degree without any practical experience. 
  • Gaining a few practical experiences and skills before applying to graduate school is also an excellent aspect of whether you are particularly looking to pursue a future career in this field only.

Step 3: Consider a Master’s Degree

  • According to O*NET Online, 97% of biostatisticians have an advanced degree, and 58% have advanced degrees.
  • Aiming for a biostatistician profession for your career aspects with a bachelor’s degree is not the ending as it is a pretty competitive career.
  • You may also need to complete a graduate record exam to enrol in a master’s program in Biostatistics. Admission requirements may vary from college to college, but they will include a Bachelor’s degree and prerequisite coursework in math and science.

Did you know: The UAMS Department of Biostatistics has played a key role in a successful national clinical trial to treat anal cancer in persons living with HIV. The randomized clinical trial of 4,446 participants found that by removing high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), chances of progression to anal cancer were significantly reduced. 

Courses in Biostatistics

Biostatistics is a discipline that mainly covers the subject areas of development, implementation, and application of statistical methods in medical research. Other than these essential topics, a few more topics are covered in this discipline. To get a detailed understanding of all the courses covered in Biostatistics, let’s look at the following modules.

  • Basic Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics Practical
  • Linear Regression and Probability Distributions
  • Sampling Distributions and Interference
  • Sampling Theory, Time Series, and Index Numbers
  • Statistical Methods for Quality Management
  • Experimental Designs and Demography
  • Operations Research

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Career Opportunities as a Biostatistician

Biostatisticians have widely overlapping responsibilities and tasks with other medical professions. Therefore, the median salary for mathematics and biostatisticians was $93,290 in 2020. According to the Milken Institute School of Public health, the median weekly income for people with a master’s degree will increase by 33% in 2030. 

After achieving a Biostatistical degree with diverse specializations such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and technology, there are a plethora of job opportunities. A few popular job designations in this field are:

  • Epidemiologist
  • Biostatistician
  • Surveillance Officer
  • Monitoring Coordinator
  • Evaluation Coordinator
  • Data Manager
  • Researcher Officer
  • Public Health/Sanitary Engineers
  • Policy Analyst

Conclusively, we believe that in all aspects of biostatistics there is a vast scope for those who are deeply interested in a professional career that revolves around research and quantitative analysis. If you are planning to pursue a career in Biostatistics or any other related medical field, connect with our experts at Leverage Edu and we will assist in finding the best courses and colleges suitable for you.

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