Federal Statistical Agency Employees Tell Why You Should Want Their Jobs

We asked federal statistical agency leaders and employees why students and young professionals should work at their agencies. They responded enthusiastically with the following inside looks at their jobs and the agencies they work for.

Samson Adeshiyan
Director, Office of Statistical Methodology and Research, US Energy Administration

Do you want to learn how to develop and publish nationwide survey statistics and independent analyses that help policymakers, businesses, and consumers make informed decisions? If so, a career at a federal statistical agency might be right for you.

Here, you’ll learn about sample design and statistical modeling, questionnaire design, interviewing, data collection, data editing, data publishing, and much more. You will also work alongside some of the best statisticians and scientists in a nurturing, creative environment.

Within the federal statistical system are agencies such as the US Energy Information Administration, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and US Census Bureau. In addition to producing their standard official statistics and analyses, federal agencies are often asked to produce current data during crises. Recently, the US Energy Information Administration provided data analyses about the Colonial Pipeline shutdown to policymakers.

Statisticians who work for the federal government receive a competitive salary, as well as excellent health and retirement benefits. Additional benefits include telework, subsidized public transportation, and a variety of educational opportunities.

If you think you have what it takes to collect and analyze the data that drives US markets, consider working for a federal statistical agency.

Vipin Arora
Deputy Director, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

Meaningful and interesting work. A sense of purpose. Commitment to public service. Opportunities to grow and innovate. The federal statistical system thrives on finding and developing leaders who are driven by such values.

Would you like to help gather and publish information on the research and development and innovation that will propel our nation’s economy in the future? We do that at the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. How about helping to project what energy markets will look like in the future? The Energy Information Administration is the place for you. Are you more interested in informing policymakers and the public about key trends in transportation? You should consider the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

These are just a few examples of the critical and fascinating topics we work on every day across the federal statistical system—the world’s best statistical and analytical team. Whatever your interests might be, there is a federal statistical agency, unit, or program that needs your unique skills and talents.

Emily D. Buehler
Statistician, Bureau of Justice Statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the primary federal statistical agency of the US Department of Justice. Our mission is to collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information about crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government in the United States.

As a statistician at BJS, I manage data collections related to government expenditures and employment in the criminal justice system, sexual victimization in correctional facilities, and law enforcement training academies. I enjoy being able to learn new things and tackle different challenges across a variety of substantive areas, while overseeing the entire lifecycle of a data collection—from planning and design through publication.

When deciding what to do after earning my doctorate, it was important to me that my career be purpose-driven. Contributing accurate and reliable statistics to inform policy discussions and public understanding of criminal justice topics is rewarding. While there are many potential jobs that use statistical knowledge and skills to make a difference, I believe working at the federal level is a unique opportunity to provide trustworthy information that supports efforts to make real the principles of an equitable system of justice for all Americans.

Chris Chapman
Associate Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is a great place to build a career if you are interested in education research or data collection and reporting methodology.

The US education system is highly decentralized, making it challenging to find comparable data across states and localities. This creates tremendous limitations on the ability of policymakers, researchers, and the public to understand education in the country as a whole and how it compares internationally.

NCES specializes in providing these much-needed data. Working at NCES puts you right in the middle of addressing this need on day one of working here. NCES has few employees compared to the scope of projects we undertake. In terms of career development, this means you start at NCES with a significant amount of responsibility and ability to influence study design, analyses and data presentation, and quality control activities.

While not heavily staffed, we have significant levels of funding. Common with most federal statistical agencies, you will find that our studies tend to be much better resourced—and obtain more notice—than is typically possible in studies you might be able to undertake if you work in academia or with private research firms.

Yang Cheng
Senior Research Mathematical Statistician, Research and Development Division, National Agricultural Statistics Service

By working at the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), you make a difference. The information NASS provides is essential to US agriculture, contributes to a stable economic climate, and reduces risk. You will work with smart, motivated colleagues in a diverse team of professionals from many geographic areas and academic backgrounds. Nearly 70 percent of NASS employees are statisticians from a wide range of various fields.

NASS offers academic and professional development opportunities to give you the tools you need for the job and to help you advance your career. These include college courses, graduate-level degree programs, cross-training programs, workshops, leadership development, seminars, online courses, and opportunities to collaborate with academia.

We conduct more than 400 weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual surveys each year and the Census of Agriculture, a complete count of US farms and ranches, every five years. We have ongoing research on survey design, sampling, complex modeling, and other cutting-edge statistical issues.

You should consider working for NASS if you are interested in statistics, public service, and national agriculture. NASS offers excellent career opportunities in a dynamic and rewarding work environment. If you are interested in advanced modeling and objective data, enjoy solving problems, and/or want to learn and grow throughout your career, consider joining the NASS team.

Samuel Foster
Director, Office of Statistical Analysis and Support, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Social Security Administration

Would you like to perform research and statistical analyses that affect more than 65 million Retirement Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients? Would you like to study the relationship between these payments and the American economy?

Our researchers conduct policy-relevant research and evaluation, including in-depth analyses of Social Security solvency proposals. Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES) researchers work on longer-term research papers, as well as quick turnaround analysis on critical issues for the agency and other stakeholders. You can engage in this meaningful work by seeking employment with the Social Security Administration.

Our statisticians and researchers work together with data experts to provide statistical data on OASDI and SSI program benefits, payments, covered workers, and other indicators. In their analyses, ORES statisticians and researchers identify trends and relationships within data. They have access to and use rich data sources, including administrative record data linked to survey data, for Social Security research and policy analysis. They also conduct tests on the data validity and account for high survey nonresponse rates or sampling error. They develop microsimulation models that estimate the distributional effects of proposed changes in Social Security programs. Our statisticians also recommend how to improve the design of future surveys—ensuring the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of statistical data—and participate in several interagency statistical programs and projects.

Patricia Hu
Director, Bureau of Transportation Statistics

In an era in which data is valued as an economic asset and decisions need to be informed by evidence, there is no better time to join the federal statistical system.

At the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), we inform all decisions about transportation by leveraging data from diverse sources—public or private, structured or unstructured—building evidence, and exploring experimental statistics. All these decisions affect how we travel safely from A to B and how our Amazon packages are delivered to our front doors.

Let me give you two examples of BTS’s recent work. First, at the onset of the pandemic, BTS transformed from developing monthly statistics to developing rapid indicators on a daily and weekly basis on how COVID-19 impacts transportation. Fifteen months later, we see the pandemic continues to impact travel behavior. Second, the administration’s equity goal has inspired BTS’s effort to create data and methods to help build an equitable transportation future.

So why work for a federal statistical agency? Being a member of the federal statistical system gives one a true sense of purpose, knowing that what we do is for the well-being of all Americans.

Steve Klement
Chief, Quality Program Staff, US Census Bureau

Jonah Wong
Methodology Staff Recruitment and Retention, US Census Bureau

The federal government needs help making data-driven decisions for allocations in infrastructure, public health, and other programs for the public good. The 125 agencies that comprise the federal government’s statistical system compile the information used to determine where and what type of roads, hospitals, schools, or other infrastructure should be built and maintained.

Your expertise in performing data science—expanding collection methods, performing analysis, and providing statistics in new ways—will help the mission of the statistical agencies in becoming more comprehensive and efficient at producing the knowledge the country needs.

The largest agency in the statistical system, the US Census Bureau provides data on the country’s people and places, researches best methods for collection and estimation, and provides our democracy’s important count of representation in the most scientifically accurate manner. We also provide data collection and analysis support to many of the smaller statistical agencies.

The Census Bureau provides a safe working environment with great benefits such as career development opportunities, liberal leave policies, teleworking, 401K equivalent, and one of the few remaining defined retirement pensions. Our employee’s work affects national policy while balancing personal career and life goals.

Juan David Munoz
Economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has been an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience for me. As a recent undergraduate from Florida State University, the starting salary, schedule salary increments, benefits, and opportunity to live and work in our nation’s capital made up by far the most compelling offer I got. I have had the opportunity to work alongside individuals from the US Census Bureau, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and others to produce the Supplemental Poverty Measurement, a statistic that drives policy nationwide and affects many Americans.

The intrinsic knowledge that my work is benefiting the nation is hard to match. To know I am contributing to my country fills me and my family with pride. Furthermore, at BLS, I feel I am cared for, respected, and treated as a human being. I get a flexible working schedule, all benefits, three weeks of vacation a year, and health and dental insurance. When I suffered a family loss and had to leave the country for five weeks, BLS was extremely supportive and accommodating.

I feel nothing but loyalty and gratitude for the BLS and invite anyone who has the relevant skills to apply. It is a great experience and a good steppingstone for any other job in data analytics.

Jennifer D. Parker
Director, Division of Research and Methodology, National Center for Health Statistics

If you are looking for a career with opportunities to make a difference, apply your talents using an assortment of approaches, and continually learn new skills, consider a job in federal statistics.

At the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), statisticians and data scientists have the opportunity to contribute to the information that informs and guides decisions affecting the health of all Americans. Through its large population and provider health surveys and the National Vital Statistics System (i.e., death and birth data), NCHS monitors the nation’s health and identifies emerging trends. Statisticians contribute to the collection and dissemination of key health statistics at every step.

There is a role at NCHS for statisticians and data scientists with a variety of expertise and interests to develop and apply new and innovative methods. On the forefront are new data sources, linked and blended data, and model-based approaches that will increase the scope and relevance of the health and health care information produced. There are opportunities to learn and apply new scientific and technological skills, as well as the scientific communication and leadership skills that can increase your impact.

I have been at NCHS for more than 25 years and continue to find everything we do exciting and interesting. More importantly, I have been proud to be part of an agency committed to providing data used to improve people’s health.

Laura R. Rasmussen
Chief, Statistical Services Branch, Statistics of Income, Internal Revenue Service

Want to make an impact on the lives of every resident and citizen of the United States? The Statistics of Income Division produces tax data related to individuals, estates, businesses, nonprofit organizations, trusts, and foreign investments. Teams of statisticians, economists, and information technology specialists work together to sample returns after they are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), correct errors and perfect the data, and weight the data to create quality population statistics. These data, available from no other source, are used by policy makers in Congress and the Department of the Treasury to evaluate tax policy and change tax laws.

Federal agencies, research organizations, and the media rely on our data to examine the effects of legislation on the people, business, and economy. State and local governments, as well as businesses, employ the data for making critical planning decisions. And think tanks and academia use our data to support their economic and social policy research.

Join us so you can be part of where it starts and help produce data that affects everyone around you.

Alana Rhone
Economist, Economic Research Service

If you enjoy being part of work that matters or believe in service to mankind, working at a federal statistical agency is right for you! Federal statistical agency employees are motivated by the fact our work has a positive impact on the lives of others.

The Economic Research Service (ERS) provides context for and informs decisions that affect the agricultural economy, food and nutrition, food safety, global markets and trade, resources and environment, and rural economy. This, in turn, benefits everyone with efficient stewardship of our agricultural resources.

Federal statistical agency employees also enjoy unparalleled career opportunities. ERS has provided me with several opportunities for my career growth. My career at ERS began as an 1890s Scholar intern while I was earning my bachelor’s degree. Before I left my last summer internship at ERS, I contributed to a publication that would later make me a published author. There are not many jobs that offer the opportunity to publish your research and analysis in reports, award-winning magazines, and professional journals, as well as participate in oral briefings and congressionally mandated studies delivered directly to executive and legislative branch policymakers and program administrators. That is a win-win for me! I am proud to be part of a federal statistical agency.

Marlyn Rodriguez
Economist, Bureau of Economic Analysis

The federal government offers a great package. There is the knowledge going in that your work is in service of the American people. Working as a statistician in the federal government will surround you with the experts behind the most widely used statistics in the country, ranging from economic indicators to the important metrics that ensure we are keeping the country safe.

The benefits package is excellent, as well, and I have found it to be competitive with the private sector, especially when you take into consideration work-life balance and job security. But what keeps me going is the intrinsic reward—I know what I work on matters, and it’s hard to put a number on that.

For example, I work on GDP, which is one of the most closely watched of all economic statistics. It provides policymakers and the American people with a pulse of the economy. Every month, we produce this number and I know what I work on lands directly on the president’s desk. It is that important.