Career change from signal processing to statistics

#1
Hope some of you can offer some advice here. I have a Ph.D. in statistical signal processing (part of electrical engineering) and I've worked for almost 15 years in the defense industry on digital communication systems. I'm currently working from home for a small company and the work is sort of unstable--dependent on winning small contracts.

So I've had a lot of time to do some self study in Machine Learning, which I find fascinating. For example, I've taken many online courses and have been reading some books in detail, like Elements of Statistical Learning by Hastie, et. al. and Pattern Classification by Duda, et. al. Also, I've picked up R basics pretty well and I'm already good with Matlab, Python, and C++.

The problem I'm having is that no employers seem interested. I'm not sure why. Maybe the lack of real-world experience, no Hadoop, etc... So my question is: Is there anyway to get my foot in the door? Are there any companies that hire people part time to do data analysis, etc.? Finally, would going back to school and getting a Masters in statistics make sense at all? It's a huge investment and time commitment, but I'd love to do it if I knew it would be worth it.

Thanks in advance for any advice!