I’m looking at changing careers from mechanical engineering to statistics. However, I’m having a hard time finding information on what a “real life statistician” actually does all day. The descriptions online are very general. I enjoyed the basic statistics courses I took in college and high school, but I find it hard to believe that a class like that is representative of day to day activities. I’d really appreciate some specifics if anyone has a few minutes to give me an overview of a typical day.
Good (and very open-ended) question. As you'll no doubt find if anyone else responds to your post, "statisticians" are many things. On TalkStats, there are many many formally trained statisticians and then there are many of us (like me) who dabble in it to make sense of their research, etc. You're going to get a diversity of responses. My answer to the question "what does a 'real life statistician' do all day?" is best answered by Nate Silver (Wikipedia link or NYTimes column on politics). It's good you're interested in coursework. That's a good start. Otherwise, to find our what statisticians do, just start identifying interesting data that you think should be modeled or phenomena that you think should be predicted and start your analyses. You'll soon find you're in the thick of it and realize you're a statistician.