Statistics gives meaning to numbers and include the ways in which information is collected, processed and interpreted. The statistician plans, collects, processes and analyses data to make decisions.

The work of the statistician can fall into two broad categories:

Academic (research) statistics: exceptional mathematical ability is needed for the training of students, the conducting of statistical research in a chosen specialised field and the developing or refining of theories.

Applied (practical) statistics: planning and conducting of experiments or projects to collect and analyse information in fields such as engineering, chemistry, medicine, finance, astronomy, life insurance, psychology and agriculture.

Typical responsibilities of the job include designing data acquisition trials, assessing results and analysing trends and applying statistical methodology to complex data.  They also need to act in a consultancy capacity, design and implement data-gathering / management computer systems and software and supervise junior statistical staff.  Other tasks are using statistics to make forecasts and to provide projected figures, presenting information in a variety of formats, conveying complex information to people who may not be specialists, liaising with colleagues and attending meetings.

Important skills are good IT skills, numerical skills, analytical skills, written and verbal communication skills, self-confidence and good inter-personal skills.

Personal Requirements

  • have very good mathematical aptitude and a preference for working with figures
  • be able to reason logically
  • have a well-developed aptitude for planning and analysing problems, so as to be able to solve or take on problems outside their field of experience
  • be able to express ideas and views in simple and clear language
  • be able to cooperate well with others
  • be proficient in working with computers

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: Prospective statisticians can follow a BSc degree in Statistics or Mathematical Statistics. Normally this would be combined with Computer Science. Students must compile their courses according to university regulations. Another option for aspiring statisticians is a degree course leading to a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom). Such a choice will usually have a strong economics orientation.

Post-graduate study: high level teaching and research require a post-graduate qualification in Statistics


  • colleges, universities of technology and universities
  • business organisations
  • industries
  • research institutions
  • government departments
  • municipalities
  • market research firms
  • the Central Statistical Service
  • Eskom
  • financial institutions
  • international organisations e.g. World Bank

Further Information

South African Statistical Association
P O Box 27321
Pretoria, 0132
Tel: (012) 997-0653

Central Statistical Service
Private Bag X44
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 310-8911

Programmes by Study Institutions


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