Any idea on how to transition from bench scientist (chem or bio) into a data scientist position? After a 3 year post-doc I’ve started looking at the job market and see a lot more data scientist than “bench”-scientist positions being advertised. Usually with decent companies like Amazon and Google.
These positions usually say they are looking for people who can analyze data (probably no problem to spin that since that’s the backbone of acquiring a PhD), but the requirement for expertise in coding. Do you think they are rigidly looking for computer science degrees or would being self-taught or using one of these “free” online code schools be sufficient?I think they're looking for someone who has a fair bit of experience in coding (or at least the Amazon/Google positions). I suspect that being self-taught but having a lot of experience (i.e. folks in academia who do coding as part of their academic work) would be welcome. I don't know much about various coding languages, but it seems that R (?) is one of the ones that people talk about.
I don't know about the free online code schools, although I do want to point out this Bloomberg News article noting that some of these coding schools charge a lot of money for not-very-successful results.
Readers, you probably have much more experience with this than I - what's your opinion?
UPDATE: Someone we'll call MK writes in with a detailed story about how they went about a similar path to the desired one above:
To introduce myself: I did a physical chemistry PhD (some kind of spectroscopist) and then did something weird: I took a postdoc in [something data/public health/medically-oriented] at a government lab. I stayed in my post-doc for 1.5 years, found a job, and now work as a "biomedical analyst" (not my real title, but very close) in the government.Thanks to MK for their contribution.
(Incidentally, one of the things that I have always said is that "STEM is really about TE." I think coding schools are an interesting example of actual T shortage - in other words, people have decided that there is enough demand to set up new, private coding schools to teach skills that employers will pay for. As of yet, I am unaware of anyone setting up "chemistry schools." (Of course, how much of this new commercial activity is actually about extracting federal student loan dollars is another question.) )