If you tell someone that you are keen on studying studying applied statistics at university, they are bound to give to somewhat of a shocked expression. The subject, Applied Statistics, seems to describe the word, "jargon" entirely for those who have never been part of the field.  If this subject discipline doesn't ring a bell, perhaps we can lend a helping hand. What is Applied Statistics?

Applied statistics entails statistical methods being employed by people from all other fields to solve real-world data problems. Are you still slightly baffled even after this definition?

Luckily for you, we have developed this guide to help you solve the problem of what applied statistics is, how hard it is to study applied statistics, what you need in order to become a data scientist and what advanced data science entails.

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Introducing the Field of Applied Statistics

"Be able to analyze statistics, which can be used to support or undercut almost any argument." Marilyn Vos Savant

Let's face it, the world is filled with data. Every single business or organization can provide you with so much data that the amount of data produced can seem rather overwhelming. Due to the amount of data produced, there is an ever-increasing need for applied statisticians. Applied statisticians then take the vast amount of data found and use the data to solve business and other real-life problems by analyzing, understanding and visualizing the data.

Being a statistician doesn't only mean using existing data and drawing conclusions based on the data but requires you to dive deeper and actually decide which type of data needs to be collected. The first step is to collect the data after seriously having contemplated how to collect the data and thereafter using the collected data to find solutions. The real skill that you obtain when you venture into the field of applied statistics is getting to know how to use electronic software, mental algorithms and even statistical instruction to analyze and understand the data that you have collected.

Sounds relatively simple that when you sign up to study applied statistics at a university level, the course merely enables you to adequately collect, interpret, and analyze data while simultaneously drawing conclusions on the data that you have found. Now let's take this a step further and look at one real-life example of how accurately people who study applied statistics can use data to draw conclusions.

Have you ever wondered how come your suggested friends' list on Instagram always consists of names of people who actually are your friends or people whom you do really know? Well, this list of friends that constantly pops up on your Instagram and so accurately shows who you probably know was also generated by statistics. There is much more to being an applied statistician than meets the eye. 

Getting introduced to the field of applied statistics
Knowing what you will do as an applied statistician is essential. Source: Unsplash | Aaron Burden

So while collecting and analyzing data may seem like an easy part of the job of an applied statistician, this is where we mention that applied statisticians are well-versed with the various programming languages. Unless you study the diverse programming languages like Python, JavaScript and HTML, the programming language can seem like unfamiliar jargon to you.

Qualified applied statisticians are able to use these programming languages as well as other technological advances to formulate conclusions based on a tedious amount of data. Thereafter the job of a data statistician involves explaining the trends and patterns found in data to stakeholders in such a way so that stakeholders also understand the interpretation of the data. Remember stakeholders may not necessarily understand complex statistician speak so you may have to simply your findings so well that they can easily be understood.

Is Applied Statistics Hard?

Even people who are interested in pursuing a career in the applied statistics field often hesitate when it comes to applying to a university that offers the course. The reason is that there is an assumption that the applied statistics field is relatively difficult.

Well, if you are determined to be a data scientist in the near future, you have to study applied statistics as a subject. So how will you know if you will succeed in your years of study and there beyond?

Think of your mindset. If you apply to become an applied statistician or data scientist, you cannot go in assuming that all the course material will be far too difficult for you to grasp. Having this type of pessimistic mindset will naturally lead to everything seeming overly difficult. Be optimistic about your years of study and it will automatically feel like a less pressurized field of study.

If you have the right frame of mind to study, it can be easier. However, for applied statistics to be an interesting field of study, you must be passionate about the content that you will be learning about.

At university, learning areas will include:

  • Data science
  • Extreme Value theory
  • Computational and methodological statistics
  • Biostatistics

For undergraduate students wishing to further their studies and delve into studying for an undergraduate degree in applied statistics, it's best for the undergraduate to have some experience of studying mathematics at AN AP Mathematical level. Qualified mathematics teachers often also choose to branch out into the field of applied statistics much later in their lives.

You may not have pursued mathematics at university but studying statistics is also beneficial for computer science enthusiasts and programming lovers. If you had taken a keen interest in computer programming from a young age, you are bound to do well and thrive in the field.

Other people who would particularly thrive in the applied statistics field are those who particularly enjoy research. Marketing researchers and the like may find that their transition into the applied statistics field or data science field would be rather beneficial.

You must remember that when you want to study applied statistics, you are required to have a strong mathematical foundation so you certainly will find the subject easier if you are great at maths.

If you are still feeling slightly unsure of your abilities to do well at studying statistics, you could benefit from getting a statistics tutor in your area who can help. With over 102 statistics tutors in the Pretoria area alone, you can surely get the added assistance and confidence that you need to do exceptionally well in the applied statistics and data science field.

To study applied statistics get a statistics tutor
If you wish to study applied statistics, remember to seek help from someone who can help you build your mathematical foundation first. A qualified data scientist will be a good tutor. Source: Superprof

Can Applied Statistics Lead to a Degree in Advanced Data Science?

Some people acquire their degree in applied statistics solely because the underlying reason is to gain an advanced degree in data science. To become a data scientist, you must have acquired a bachelors degree in Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Physical Sciences or Statistics. However, studies show that mainly people who completed their Statistics or Mathematics bachelors degree go on to study an advance course in data science. After years of studying for your undergraduate and postgraduate degree, you could pursue a Masters degree in Data Science. Data Scientists are people who are highly educated and many people who choose to complete their master's degree in Data Science also have a Masters degree in another field of study already.

Majority of data scientists know coding languages well before they even enrol in the masters in data science programmes. One of the main programming languages used by data scientists is Python. Python is known to be a very versatile coding language allowing data scientists to do almost anything including importing SQL tables into the code.

If you have no prior knowledge of Python, universities are offering short online courses such as data science with Python that you can complete to better understand the coding software.

Why is Becoming a Data Scientist Important?

If you are asking questions like whether the applied statistics course is difficult or not or if you can study applied statistics and branch out into the data science field then surely you are considering being part of the many data scientists working in South Africa. We have to add that the data science field is a very lucrative field.

A few years back it seemed as if data science was a dying field, however, over the years data scientists have stepped up to the plate and started using artificial intelligence (AI) and computer programming to drastically advance the career of data science.  Data Scientists earn quite a high salary and that salary excludes all the other bonuses that they usually earn too. Data Science is one of the three highest paid jobs in America and South Africa too is starting to pay data scientists higher salaries as well.

Data science is gaining popularity
Being a data scientist and advancing in the data science field has many benefits. Source: Unsplash

Aside from the pay that does sound appealing, there is a wide variety of job openings in the data science field. If you don't get a job as a data scientist once you qualify, you can always branch into other fields such as software engineering, data engineering and possibly even try out something that you think is entirely different like becoming a product manager.

Lastly, data science is a career choice that is here to stay. With its ever-increasing rise in popularity in South Africa, it will become far more desirable career path to follow.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.