Benefits and Opportunities Associated with the ASA’s Accredited Professional Statistician Program
Tom Short is a professor in the department of mathematics and computer science at John Carroll University. He is a Fellow of the ASA and Council of Chapters representative to the ASA Board of Directors.
The ASA has been offering voluntary professional accreditation for a year and a half now, and there are well over 150 members who have completed the application process and may proudly use the PStat® designation. As the number of Accredited Professional Statisticians has grown, so have the benefits provided by the ASA to accredited members. Recently added benefits include free access to LearnStat on Demand and discounts on JSM Continuing Education courses and registration and short courses at the Conference on Statistical Practice.
The ASA’s accreditation program offers peer-reviewed acknowledgment of a member’s advanced statistical training and knowledge, application of statistical expertise, continuing professional development, assurance of ethical practice, and effective communication. In addition to evidence of competence in these areas, a cover letter that makes the case for the applicant is required. Two letters of support from persons with first-hand experience working with the applicant also are required.
In answering questions from members considering applying for accreditation, and in reading testimonials posted on the Accredited Professional Statistician (PStat) LinkedIn group, I find that accreditation seems most appealing to statisticians who do not have traditional terminal advanced degrees in statistics. Members with terminal degrees in related quantitative disciplines and master’s-level statisticians with extensive applied experience are attracted to peer-reviewed accreditation as a pathway to opportunities for consulting and collaboration that have traditionally been restricted to PhD statisticians.
Amid concerns about the need for more statisticians in this age of big data, I think the ASA should consider adding a graduate level of accreditation. Our partner societies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia offer such a designation, in line with the background expected of a recent master’s-level graduate. Offering such a designation through the ASA would provide additional opportunities for employment, advancement, education, and professional development to master’s-level statisticians and might attract new members from related quantitative disciplines.
I remain curious to find out where the ASA accreditation program will level off as a percentage of total membership. Reports leading up to the program coming online set the bar at over 40%, but I think 10% is more in line with the experience of our partner societies.