Pharmaceutical Statistician

Statisticians and statistical programmers in the pharmaceutical industry are key players in all areas of drug research and development, from the initial identification of a chemical right through to the manufacturing and commercialisation of pharmaceutical products.

What does a pharmaceutical statistician do?


Pharmaceutical statisticians design scientifically sound experiments or trials to ensure that these will efficiently generate data. Statisticians are playing leading roles in the development of areas such as pharmacology, biological and process modelling, health economics, personalised healthcare, real world evidence and cost-effectiveness modelling.

Take a look at our profile of pharmaceutical statistician Emma Simmons to learn more.

What qualifications do I need?

Typically, employers will insist on an MSc or PhD in statistics or containing a significant statistical component.

Employers will be looking for someone with the capability to work both individually and within teams, to communicate statistical concepts and influence colleagues with other expertise and to think strategically to make a wider contribution beyond a purely statistical input.

How do I find a job as a pharmaceutical statistician?

Many positions in the pharmaceutical industry are advertised on the Statistics in the Pharmaceutical Industry website. Most of the pharmaceutical companies and CROs have career sections on their websites.

Contract Research Organisations (CROs) provide research and development services to pharmaceutical companies. Statisticians working in CROs tend to have exposure to more therapeutic areas and styles of summarising data but are less involved in major decisions.

What are the career prospects of a pharmaceutical statistician?

Progression is dependent upon the capabilities and impact demonstrated by the individual. Some career path options:

  • Line management responsibility including developing more junior staff.
  • Technical expert role, developing new approaches/thinking in key areas.
  • Responsibility for a critically important business programme.

Some statisticians have also found that a background in statistics is an ideal background to develop their career in other areas, e.g. project management or regulatory affairs. An advantage of the large size of pharmaceutical companies is the increased opportunity to make this type of career development.