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I am seeking input from industry professionals on whether I have the requisite experience and skills to be a candidate for a data analyst position in the life sciences industry.

My background in brief: I am an IT Director at a major pharmaceutical company who is exploring a career change into data analytics. I have 25+ years of varied IT experience including leading teams of database administrators, BI analysts/developers and master data management specialists. My hands-on skills are advanced Excel, basic SQL and R, along with strong analytical and communication/presentation abilities. I have a good understanding of statistics -- as a university adjunct professor I taught several courses, including one in data analytics to MBA candidates -- but no work experience in data analysis.

My motivation for exploring a change is simply that I enjoy data analysis and statistics. My financial situation will allow me to take a job at a data analyst level salary and progress from there, but first I wonder whether my background would qualify me for a position.

Does anyone have thoughts to share on this?

Thank you 

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Comment by Tom on August 15, 2014 at 11:24am

Great feedback; you zeroed right in on the core question rattling around in my head. Here I am, a middle-aged guy with skills that have served me well in technology-centered positions over the years, looking to do something that strong appeals to me. I am more than willing to put in the time to learn the tools and techniques, but in the end would I be seen in the market as a bargain, or over-qualified, ill-fitting candidate? 

Thanks again for your feedback and good luck to you!

Comment by carlo fanara on August 15, 2014 at 4:56am

Similar situation here: all-round physicist, 20+years in "data analysis", but not much of what one would call "analytics" these days (except of some small consultancy works); equipped with software development skills and real experiences in  C, Basic,SQL and dead/old elephants (like COBOL, FORTRAN); plus knowledge of scripting in Matlab or R (enough to complete some Coursera classes). Yes, held classes in Science and IT, but I think that what is mostly valuable is the experience (in managing projects, budgeting, coaching teams etc, the 'soft' skills).

In my view, technology evolves rapidly, and it makes little sense to try and catch up with the buzzwords of the moment. Am I employable in this domain? I think I am, at least for positions which do not require a sharp specialization in (say) PIG rather than HADOOP (and yes, I did apply for a few positions. The issue here, as often is the case, is that experience counts and crosses disciplines, but at a cost which increases with age and experience. Even if you are ready to lower your financial pretensions, you will be perceived as over-qualified most of the times and this is the major difficulty.

Good luck!


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