Job Prospects

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#1
Lately I've been feeling down and defeated. For those that don't know, I live in California. Our government sector is all screwed up, and frankly, it's just not easy to get a job here. I really don't feel like working my way up from lower job classes (see, "office technician," ugh), the higher class ones are impossible to get in without a ton of experience or education that I don't have. The middle ones just don't even have positions or exams available for me to try and get into. To the private sector I look.

This is where I feel let down. It seems like most of us in the TS community are in academia, and frankly, that's where I want to be. Unfortunately, I'm pretty much in graduate purgatory until I can finance some more education. While I know I have plenty of skills that can benefit industry, I just don't feel like I have the background to present it, especially when most of the jobs are looking for "3 to 5 years experience ..." often with specific technical knowledge of the field I don't have, or being proficient in something specific that I am not. When unemployment is high, they don't need to waste their time on training new staff when there are experts out there I'm competing against.

I guess my question is, maybe I'm just not looking in the right place. What sort of jobs should a statistician look for? I know there's jobs out there. I just feel like I've got blinders on.
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#2
I'd get together a highlights webpage that wows an lower intelligence audience with what you can do with their data. R (and your other skills) is a great place to start. If they can see how they gotta have the services of that guy they'll be after you. Figure out how to make what you do sexy because what you're capable of is pretty awesome you just gotta make the average joe see that too.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#3
That's good advice. I'm thinking of putting together a portfolio of some stuff I do, but I should think about it in the context of what you said instead of merely in terms of, say, a programmer's portfolio of projects he's completed. The idea is to be able to dazzle them with what I've got. The problem is, I also need to put it into context of what they want. I'm pretty inexperienced in that regard. I can sell this stuff if I'm in the interview. The problem is getting that far and having stuff marketed toward their work. You have given me stuff to think about though!
 

spunky

Can't make spagetti
#4
i'm not sure as far as how this may or may not appeal to you, but have you considered becoming an R freelance programmer? when i started graduate school i had a generous grant of approximately $0.00 so i put my skills out there on webpages specifically targeted to that and well... money started rollin' in... and the more time i was willing to put into programming the more money started rollin' in to the point that i seriously considered that if i never got a grant or a fellowship (or even a real job for that matter) i could still continue to finance my education through my R programming skills.... and... well... let's face it: i am probably one the least experienced people here using R, but i guess i have a good eye for experiment design and i love when people ask you random questions of topics you actually have to go research before tackling...

and i know i'm very bad for taking advantage of people's ignorance but someone was advertising a job that paid USD$200 and it was 6 lines of code involving a canonical correlation and a multiple regression... sorry peeps, graduate students gotta eat sometimes :)
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#5
spunky said:
and i know i'm very bad for taking advantage of people's ignorance but someone was advertising a job that paid USD$200 and it was 6 lines of code involving a canonical correlation and a multiple regression... sorry peeps, graduate students gotta eat sometimes
One of the best lines I've heard in a while.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#6
I love that line, too!

That's not a bad idea, Spunky. I was thinking of getting some tutoring experience at my community college next semester, and then doing some private stuff alone or with an organization after that to fill in some hours (can pay pretty well per hour). I might have to go ahead and add a tutor section to my website and try that freelance programming stuff. I'll have to contact some old professors from my university. There could be some networking to gain from that, as they might be able to make use of a student with my talents. I used to be a personal trainer, so I'm familiar with the "freelancing" thing. Never thought that an R programmer could pay the bills, though. Worth looking into nonetheless! I'll still want to development my skills with SAS and GIS, too. I want to stay well rounded!
 
#7
Hey, I just graduated with an MS in statistics last May and was able to land a job. Here's some things to keep in mind when looking.

Those requirements aren't set in stone. Looking now, I notice that many postings I saw in May are still unfilled. The qualifications these companies are looking for are ridiculously specific sometimes. If you are close on the requirements, apply anyway. Companies are still willing to pay for training in some cases, especially when the skill is easy to pick up (e.g., SQL). Write a strong, very personalized cover letter. If no recruiter name is given in the posting, call the company and ask who to address the letter to. Make sure in your resume you have a Skills section where an employer can quickly look and see what you are able to do (stats techniques, software experience, etc.). And, of course, recommendations -- get those if you don't have them.

Also, learn SAS. Not in depth, but learn enough so that you can do basic things -- importing/exporting data, univariate and bivariate stats, data manipulation, regression, etc. I was in the same boat as you. I came out of academia having spent years learning R (and one semester on SAS). Almost without exception, every private-sector posting wants SAS experience. Corporations are terrified of open-source. And there is a centralized process regarding certification in SAS, so this makes it easier for them to see who knows what. Pick up a book (The Little SAS Book is a good one to start with -- it covers mostly the programming aspect, not so much the heavy stats methods). Get your hands on SAS somehow and just play around with data.

And, though I don't have experience with one-on-one tutoring or contract work, I would run with that in the mean time as others have suggested.

Don't be discouraged, though. There are a good number of stats positions out there, I think. Are you limiting yourself to particular industries?
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#8
Not particularly. The only industries I can see that want statisticians are Health and Finance, the latter with accounting background, and the former sometimes with IT background. I'll be satisfied anywhere that will help me grow as a statistician. Hell, at this point I'd settle for a programming job lol
 
#9
I just did a quick search for Sacramento:

http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?BID=1&method=mExternal.showJob&RID=100530

This doesn't require anything high-level, it seems, but it didn't take long to find that.

I interviewed with an insurance company -- lots of actuaries, but it wasn't required and they were willing to take on people who considered pursuing certification.

There are also jobs in marketing and advertising. Also, look in the direction of polling organizations (NORC, Gallup, etc.). What tool are you using to search for jobs?
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#10
I use indeed.com. I recently decided to consider marketing and advertising. I seriously don't know if I'm qualified for that work, though. I hate BSing my abilities, but I do want to look marketable. I haven't considered polling organizations. I'll have to look into that.
 
#11
Yeah, branch out as much as possible. I'm in marketing, and there was no prior marketing knowledge required, really.

And try careerbuilder.com and just random google searches as well. There are lots of cross-posted jobs but there are many that are unique to certain job sites.
 

alf

New Member
#12
i'm not sure as far as how this may or may not appeal to you, but have you considered becoming an R freelance programmer? when i started graduate school i had a generous grant of approximately $0.00 so i put my skills out there on webpages specifically targeted to that and well... money started rollin' in... and the more time i was willing to put into programming the more money started rollin' in to the point that i seriously considered that if i never got a grant or a fellowship (or even a real job for that matter) i could still continue to finance my education through my R programming skills.... and... well... let's face it: i am probably one the least experienced people here using R, but i guess i have a good eye for experiment design and i love when people ask you random questions of topics you actually have to go research before tackling...

and i know i'm very bad for taking advantage of people's ignorance but someone was advertising a job that paid USD$200 and it was 6 lines of code involving a canonical correlation and a multiple regression... sorry peeps, graduate students gotta eat sometimes :)
Can you say a little more about your buissness? How much work can you get in a week, who are your customers and how do you advertise? And how much do you normally charge pr houre?

I thought the market for low level mathematical/statistival programming was very slim.
 
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#13
Is this what is typical....only finance and healthcare jobs? If one is going into industry why not just chose bio stats from the start?
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#14
In the private sector, it probably depends on where you live. A lot of what I see that I'm qualified for is in the area of finance and healthcare. There are also a lot of IT jobs, but I don't have the required background in data warehousing and data mining they desire. The government definitely is looking for statisticians, but for me, California has had a hiring freeze for almost two years now and a lot of qualified people are looking to get in. There's also the fact a lot of the positions require a theoretical background in the field of interest. I notice a lot of that being in the life sciences (e.g., environmental scientist) or engineering.

Personally, I have a background in economics and like the study of demography and the social sciences generally, but biostatistics or epidemiology could be good, too. Not easy to find work in demography nor do I have the requisite background in survey analysis and qualitative studies that they often do. I may just try and get a second degree in sociology or psychology to support that training until I get into a grad program.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#15
Yeah. A lot of sociological work is qualitative survey gathering and analysis. I wouldn't mind working in marketing or polling just for the experience.
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#16
Is this what is typical....only finance and healthcare jobs? If one is going into industry why not just chose bio stats from the start?
While not completely true some people see getting a degree in biostats as sort of cornering yourself into biostats positions whereas with a degree in stats if you take a few extra courses you can still be competitive for the biostats positions but have other options as well (which is nice if you're not exactly sure what you want to do).
 
#17
I have seen/heard that quite a bit from boards and PhD's. I also heard that a degree from a good bio-stats program would be OK to get standard statistical jobs....is that valid?