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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Benjamin, just one word: Statistics

If "The Graduate" were being shot today, the word wouldn't be "plastics", but "statistics".

"“I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians,” said Hal Varian, chief economist at Google. “And I’m not kidding.”

The rising stature of statisticians, who can earn $125,000 at top companies in their first year after getting a doctorate, is a byproduct of the recent explosion of digital data. In field after field, computing and the Web are creating new realms of data to explore — sensor signals, surveillance tapes, social network chatter, public records and more. And the digital data surge only promises to accelerate, rising fivefold by 2012, according to a projection by IDC, a research firm."

That's from this NYT piece.

There's a temporary boom in statistical development in any area in which there is new data. I got in at the introduction of in-store scanners (and research services built around that data) 30 years ago, and have made a nice living working on interesting projects. The boom declines to a lower level once standard analyses are introduced, but there is still room for long-term employment.