If you’d like to work or use statistics after you finish school, your chances are better if you continue studying. There are opportunities for doing statistics for people who leave school at 16, but they are limited. If you choose that route, you might think of studying for the professional qualifications of the Royal Statistical Society, starting with the Ordinary Certificate which is a level between GCSE and A level.
In the UK, most AS/A2 levels have statistics and probability modules as part of the Mathematics and Further Maths course (2010/2011). Physics will also expose you to some level of statistics. It is a good idea to research the schools or colleges you are applying to find out more about their courses. There is also a statistics strand in the Free Standing Mathematics Unit in England.
Typical AS/A2 level Maths would look like:
- You study three modules: two are core modules building on the algebra, trigonometry and geometry you studied at GCSE and the third module is a choice from statistics, mechanics or decision maths. Choose statistics if you do not plan to take Further Maths AS/A2 level.
- The statistics module may look at methods of evaluating data, probability and describing relationships between types of data.
- The mechanics module is the maths used within physics and deals with how and why objects move.
- The decision maths module is about using algorithms to make decisions to solve problems like traffic flow and reducing queue times.
- Entry requirements are normally 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths. Some colleges will require a grade B or above in GCSE Maths.
UCAS has an online course search facility to help you see what kind of courses you can do and where (for UK students).
In some countries like Nigeria, a National Diploma in Statistics is also available as well as specialised courses such as Forensic Science with Statistics.
If you are staying on at school until you are 18 but not continuing in education to university, you can still find jobs using statistics in many fields. You could start as, say, a statistical assistant and work up through your organisation with on-the-job training. Many large organisations such as the Office for National Statistics or local government can offer jobs as statistical assistants and give training so that progress can be made.
Most professional statisticians, however, are university graduates. You will generally need to have a A2 level or equivalent in mathematics if you want to become a statistician. You might also be able to take an AS/A2 level in Statistics.
It is also possible to become a statistician through specialising in a numerate subject, such as economics, but you will still need to have good mathematical ability.
Even if you do not decide to pursue the statistician route, a Maths AS/A2 level is a very useful qualification. You can study various degrees such as economics, accountancy and sciences to psychology at university as well as architecture or engineering.