My Business as a Statistical Consultant

I’ve always been interested in numbers and statistics. After a circuitous route, I wound up getting a PhD in psychometrics, but mostly I studied statistics. Then I worked as a statistician, first at a nonprofit company that researched things like drug abuse and HIV, then at a startup company that worked with electroencephalographic data and then at a large medical center. When that last job ended, I decided to go out on my own.

Why I decided to become a statistical consultant

First, I’ve always enjoyed working with a wide variety of clients in different fields. I like learning about many subjects, and, as a statistical consultant, I get to learn about what each of my clients is studying – from epilepsy to predicting which teachers stay in the profession to the how students learn foreign languages.

Second, I like setting my own hours. As a statistical consultant, I sometimes work on weekends – and other times not during the week. I am an early riser, and, as a consultant, I can work from 5 AM to 9 AM and then noon to 3 PM and it doesn’t bother anyone.

Third, it’s a lot like what I was doing anyway; solving statistical problems for intelligent people who know their subject area but did not know how to analyze their data.

What I do as a statistical consultant

I help graduate students and researchers, mostly in the social sciences, psychology, medicine and education. They could be writing a dissertation, applying for a grant, writing research papers or anything at all. Sometimes they come to me with a lot of ideas and data, sometimes they come looking for help formulating ideas. Some of them know quite a lot of statistics, some know almost none. Some of them do the analysis themselves and I help them interpret the data; others send me the data and have me analyze it.

Advice about consulting

If you want to be a consultant, you should talk with a lawyer and an accountant about how to set things up. This costs some money, but it can save you a lot of headaches.

You should also realize that the work flow isn’t steady and that you have to pay for office space, supplies, health insurance and everything else yourself.

I like consulting. But it’s not for everyone.

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