«

»

May 11 2014

Planning a late career shift to Analytics / Big data? Better be prepared!

I feel lucky to be part of the data revolution happening around us. Because of the attention and the focus on Analytics / Big Data, there are quite a few people considering a late career switch.

career_change_v3

I get quite a few queries asking my advice on this matter regularly. Here are a few samples (after removing names):

I am an equity analyst (finance background) and have 10+ years experience. I don’t have any background in IT. I have a background in chemical technology (BE) and MBA finance.

After all these years and entirely different background; how easy/difficult is to pursue fresh career in these areas – Analytics and Big data. Will there be opportunities for such diverse background on immediate and Long term basis.

Here is another one:

I have 6+ years of experience in IT consulting, none of them is related to Analytics. But I want to move into analytics. Is there a way to do that? Please advise. 

Yet another one:

I came across this site as a part of my quest to change my career track. I have 10 years of experience , out of which last 5 years is in institutional relationship management cum acquisition in banking sector. Prior to that I have 1.5 years sales experience in FMCG sales. I have done MBA(mktg) and B.E. Please guide me,
1. Would my existing profile be adaptable to career in business analytics?
2. How easy (or difficult) it would be to get job in business analytics?
3. Which course and from which institute would relatively assure me of a job immediately in analytics?
Thanks

Hence, I thought of expressing my thoughts for the benefit of a bigger audience. Also, through discussion with other people in this domain, I am hoping to pull in broader views on the subject.

Please note that rest of this article assumes that you are looking for a hands on core analytics role (where you analyze the data yourself) and not a supporting role (e.g. Pre-Sales for Analytics products, Business development for a consultancy)

A few facts you should consider:

  1. The rosy picture (recruiters running behind you) you thought, would be at least 3 – 5 years away. The first few years would be very arduous. More so, if you don’t need to be an Individual Contributor in your current role.
  2. Analytics / Big data is a knowledge intensive domain. You can do well only if you gain knowledge and work hard regularly.
  3. A lot of good companies believe in hiring smart people straight out of college and training them internally. These Organization would not think about hiring you.
  4. In an ideal world, there should be no bias against people with experience. They should be judged only on the knowledge and skills they possess and their willingness to learn / work. Sadly, this is not true. A career shift (especially late in career) is often looked suspiciously, until you have received outstanding recognition in your previous roles.

Would your work experience be considered?

The answer depends on the domain of your experience:

  1. Non technical experience will not count in your analytics jobs – the only benefit you might get is that the interviewer can expect you to be more mature with your thought process / decision.
  2. Technical experience (programming / SQL / server) gets counted, but will only be considered as equivalent of 1 – 2 years experience.
  3. Consulting / research would count more. May not be counted 100%, but healthy fraction would be considered.

How soon can you get a job?

Well, bake in any where between 3 months to a couple of years depending on your learning agility, problem solving skills, communication and presentation skills. If you are outstanding on these attributes, you should get a job as soon as you get some technical skills under your belt. An average person typically takes 6 – 12 months after gaining necessary technical skills. If you take any thing more than 12 months, you should try and re-assess what is going wrong.

P.S. This would vary from geography to geography. The above answer is applicable in markets where there is big un-fulfilled need of analysts.

OK, you have thought enough. You are absolutely sure that your life would not be complete without a shot at analytics. What next?

In case you are absolutely sure, here are the next steps:

Once you have followed these blogs / communities for a while (say at least a month after your course at Coursera), you can look out for certification courses to begin your journey.

My final advice:

If you are not in deep love with data and can not spend hours slicing and dicing data in front of a computer, analytics may not be your cup of tea.

Take this up only if you tick all the boxes below:

  • You are absolutely crazy about this industry. You can’t help but analyze any numbers you come across – I play with numbers on the number plate of any vehicle which passes me.
  • You have undergone a few courses on Coursera / eDX and have excelled at them. You have submitted all the assignments and have scored extremely well.
  • You have the perseverance and motivation to undergo 2 – 3 years of arduous work learning about a new knowledge intensive domain.
  • You are willing to spend a lot of time as Individual Contributor

Lastly, if you have family support in this move / decision, it will make the move less painful (or more enjoyable depending on the way you look at).

P.S. The aim of this article is not to dissuade people wanting to join Analytics Industry. I know a lot of people, who made this switch in middle of their career and they have not been more happier in their career ever before! Their passion for analytics and numbers comes across even if you spend 5 minutes talking to them.

If you like what you just read & want to continue your analytics learning, subscribe to our emailsfollow us on twitter or like our facebook page.

48 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. samir

    Nice job !!

  2. Tuhin Chattopadhyay

    Excellent article. A course on analytics from IIM/ ISB/ abroad could also enhance the probability of success.

    1. Datta

      Hey Tuhin,

      You pointed out an interesting thing, please have a look into this article if you missed it. :)

      http://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/2013/07/advanced-analytics-certifications/

  3. Dheeraj Chowdhary

    Hi Kunal,

    Very informative article but you missed mentioning some good courses on Coursera / eDX. Request to kindly mention the same in the article.

    Thanks,

    1. Kunal Jain

      Dheeraj,

      Have added them. Thanks for pointing this out.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  4. Mehdi

    Tnx for this useful article.

    I’m master student and really enthusiastic about this field of study. Could you please write some about new trends in data mining and machine learning and Ph.D opportunities in this fields?

    1. Kunal Jain

      Mehdi,

      Thanks for the idea. I will pen down my thoughts at some point in near future.

      In the meanwhile, if you have specific queries, feel free to ask.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  5. Kriti Gupta

    Hi Kunal,

    Nice stuff!
    Analytics Vidhya is providing Summer Training on Business Analytics.
    Is there any training on web anaytics also?
    what are the career opportunities for a web analyst in India? Do Software Companies also recruit Digital Marketer,Web Analyst?

    Thanks.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Kriti,

      Thanks.

      Currently we are not offering web analytics course. You can check out the one by Market Motive. I personally think it is a great course.

      There are quite a few openings available in web analytics. You can visit our Jobs page for getting a flavor of it. Not sure which companies are you referring to as Software companies. Kindly elaborate so that I can be more helpful.

      REgards,
      Kunal

  6. Kriti Gupta

    Kunal,

    Thanks.

    Software Companies like IBM,Infosys,Cognizant etc. Do these companies also recruit web analyst or keep an eye open for digital marketers or web savvy?

    Web analysts are not in high demand this time but i think in the coming years everything would be digital.

    I visited your job page but all the recruiters demand experience. What if we need to start our career as a fresher?

    1. Kunal Jain

      Kriti,

      These software companies you mentioned are not the bulk recruiters for web analytics. However, cloud based startups, eCommerce companies and startups always look out for good web analyst / marketing people. You can also look for openings with Digital media agencies.

      The reason we have only experienced postings as of now is because that is the focus segment for us as of now. In coming months, we will add fresher jobs as well.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  7. Fred R

    Don’t forget kaggle competitions. If you can participate in a few and have a couple of top 25% finishes under your belt you will have a great chance of attracting offers.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Fred,

      Good point! Kaggle competitions are a good way to knock the door when no one is hearing. However, you can only do so after you have earned Business Analytics skills. The article was addressed to people planning to start their journey.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  8. haarika

    I am 31, completed MBA. There are so many breaks in my education and career because of personal problems (in fact i have worked as a faculty for MBAs only for 4 months, thats my total career). I am good at analytic s, bad at marketing. So I have learned statistical analysis thoroughly. Recently I have also learned R language also. If I start applying for entry level jobs in R/ Data analysis, would any companies consider me seriously? Please advice.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Haarika,

      You should get consideration, as long as you are serious about the job.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  9. ashok

    Dear admin.

    I’ve completed my M.Sc in Statistics with 84 % loyola college chennai. I would like to do one year course in Aanlytics to advance my career in Abroad .

    Could you please tell me the possibilities to do analytics related course that would fetch me job in abroad ?

    tahnk you
    ashok

    1. Kunal Jain

      If you are looking for a career abroad, best way is to do certification from abroad as well.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  10. Sharan

    Hi Kunal,

    @Coursera there is not much courses for Analytics, or i am looking at wrong side.

    Pls suggest.

    Regards,
    Sharan.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Sharan,

      Coursera has wealth of different relevant courses. Start by searching for the Data Science specialization.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  11. Mike

    Kunal, thanks for the interesting article. I had to laugh when I read your mentions of Coursera/edX courses. That (plus some other things) is exactly what I have been doing on the side for the last year to gain deeper technical and mathematical expertise of Data Analytics.

    Incidentally, I highly recommend The Analytics Edge. It works mostly with the R language but is very hands on and covers a lot of different scenarios, including a Kaggle competition specifically for the course. The course just finished but the archived version remains open and available on edX.

    Question: Maybe I am being slow today, but what do you mean by “Individual Contributor”?

    By the way, other good learning sources along the lines of Coursera, edX, etc. are Udacity, which includes an Intro to Data Science course, as well as Stanford Uni’s OpenEdx ( https://class.stanford.edu ) which has two archived but excellent Statistics courses.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Mike,

      Thanks for the comment and suggestions on the additional sources. I have seen the course on Udacity. Interestingly, they are focusing on delivering the experience on Python (as opposed to R, which is used in most of these courses). Will check out the courses with Stanford.

      I guess that is the beauty of MOOC platforms. They can cater to different audience at the same time. Even I have spent a considerable time on these platforms over the last year.

      With regards to “Individual Contributor”, I was referring to a person working on a few projects hands-on (vs. guiding / mentoring or leading team members). Some of the people, I have interacted with are Senior in their current roles / hierarchy. They have not worked on projects hands on for some months (if not years). Getting back to hands on role might not be easy for them.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  12. Tom Plunkett

    While this article shares some good advice on how to pick up skills and how some people might view career changes, I disagree with several of the conclusions.

    “1.The rosy picture (recruiters running behind you) you thought, would be at least 3 – 5 years away. The first few years would be very arduous. More so, if you don’t need to be an Individual Contributor in your current role.”

    Not necessarily. A lot depends on what aspects you focus on. There are easy paths and harder paths. This is sort of recognized above when the author admits that his advice doesn’t apply to analytics jobs related to business development, consulting, etc.

    “3.A lot of good companies believe in hiring smart people straight out of college and training them internally. These Organization would not think about hiring you.”

    Most organizations build teams. Teams will have people with different skill sets and different backgrounds.

    “4.In an ideal world, there should be no bias against people with experience. They should be judged only on the knowledge and skills they possess and their willingness to learn / work. Sadly, this is not true. A career shift (especially late in career) is often looked suspiciously, until you have received outstanding recognition in your previous roles.”

    The key is to understand how your previous job is just like your next job, no matter how different they are. Be prepared to explain how they are similar in interviews. Furthermore, be prepared to find work experience in the field you want however you can (volunteering for a non-profit, public speaking at industry events, write articles and books on the topic, etc.). Become the expert you want to become regardless of whether someone is offering you a lot of pay for it (money can always come later).

    “You are willing to spend a lot of time as Individual Contributor.”

    It has been my experience that people who have prior work experience in a different field are much more likely to be promoted above the individual contributor level than people who have only been analysts. Breadth of experience counts more, and people will value the general management skills.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Thanks for bringing out these points, Tom. This article is aimed towards the entire population considering the career shift. There is no such thing in this article, which can be treated as a “rule”. All of these are guidelines basis my interaction with people seeking out change.
      1. As I said, none of this is a rule. Smarter / More adaptive people will come up the learning curve faster. You mentioned rightly, that there could be easier paths available by focusing on common aspects with your current role. However, if you are truly seeking a change in work profile, these are the time lines people should keep in mind.

      3. I think building teams and recruiting strategy in Organizations are 2 different teams. These Organizations I talked about, recruit people in Junior roles and then put them along with people experienced in the company. They also hire back a lot of people, who go out and gain experience in other domain / Organizations. But these Organizations don’t believe in lateral hiring. Having siad that, this is a preference. With shortage of talent, it might be a matter of time, before they need to hire laterally.

      4. Completely agree. In interviews you should focus on the parallels, but that does not change the inherent bias I was talking about.

      On Individual Contributor, I think that a person needs to spend that time, before he could be promoted up the ladder. Until and unless you spend time slicing, dicing and wrangling data, you will not appreciate the effort and skills required to be a data scientist. Once a person has spent that time, they typically move up the ladder faster due to breadth of experience.

      Thanks for making the discussion more meaningful. Really appreciated!

      Regards,
      Kunal

  13. Chaitra

    Hello Kunal,

    Thanks for the interesting article. I have Experience of about 13+ years and have in-depth knowledge on software testing and managerial skills. Have also worked as mainframe developer. Now unemployed for 2 years and have not received any calls from any company for my experience (10+ yrs) but found some on Big data. Will my change to new technology help me in getting a job? Will my earlier experience help me? I am planning to switch over to Big data technology… so planning to join some course related to Big data. Will this help me? Please advice.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Chaitra,

      Big data is definitely hot field right now, but people require experience in most of the postings. Your past experience might help, but not to a great extent.

      In order to do Big data course, you should first understand the fundamentals of Analytics.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  14. Parindsheel singh

    Hi Kunal
    You are doing a fabulous job of spreading knowledge on data analytics.
    I was wondering if you can start special section on cv writing for career shifting people.
    Because i strongly feel that there is not much guidance on cv writing for career shifting people.
    It would be really great if i can get some guidance on this topic
    regards

    1. Kunal Jain

      Parindsheel.

      I already have a lot of initiatives on my plate right now. At this stage, my time is better utilized for guiding people on career rather than CV writing.

      Having said that, we are getting more active in the job alerts and this content becomes a logical extension. Hence, it is only a matter of time, before we start this.

      Thanks,
      Kunal

  15. Kuntal

    Hi Kunal,
    I am working in Data Warehousing industry as an SAP Business Objects and Oracle PL-SQL developer for last 6 years. I want to shift in hard core Data Analytics and I am more keen on the research or developers role rather than managerial role. What do you think about this switch? Will my whole of the experience get counted.
    And which of the course you would suggest out of your top 4 selection as ISB,IIM-C,IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi ?

    1. Kunal Jain

      Kuntal,

      ISB is the best course. Your entire work ex will not be counted as it is not relevant. If I was hiring, I would have considered you as 1 – 1.5 years of work ex.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  16. Sanjib Patra

    Hi Kunal.

    I am working in Data warehousing platform primarily as an ETL analyst for last 8 years. I do experience on the tools and databases like Informatica, Oracle, Teradata, Business Object .I planning to move to the data analytic space . I do currently reside in CT,USA . I have come across various certification courses from different universities here, but got confused, which one to choose. Need your suggestion on that . Can you please help me here .

    Thanks
    Sanjib

    1. Kunal Jain

      Sanjib,

      You can check out details of various courses on kdnuggets.com

      I am not an expert at courses being run in the US, but if you provide me with details of 1 or 2 courses, I can provide my views after looking at the content.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  17. Vikas

    Hi Kunal, I am having 15+ years of experience in Software Development, with most of the projects in Banking Domain.
    Recently I have shifted into Consulting, and fortunately am working on Big Data Project, as a Banking SME.
    Looking at the opportunities lies in Data Analytics, I would like to gain more knowledge in this space, and keep myself equipped for the future opportunities.
    Having gone thru various courses offered by the premium institutes, I shortlisted following three:

    1. IIM Lucknow
    2. IIM Kolkatta
    3. Great Lakes Institute.

    If fees is not a constraint as such,
    Which one would you suggest from reputation / knowledge / practical hands on perspective ?

    Your earliest response is much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Vikas

    1. Kunal Jain

      Between the three, I would go for Great Lakes. Remaining two have higher focus on theoratical concepts and have limited classroom interactions.

      If fee is not a constraint, why not keep ISB in the mix?

      Kunal

  18. Ashok

    Hello,

    My daughter is looking for a career in analytics. She has done +2 in physics, chem, maths and biology. Now joined for B.Sc. Maths, Statistics & Computer science combination, is it a right decision, which course she join after B. Sc. Please suggest. Thanks

    1. Kunal Jain

      Ashok,

      They are definitely the right subjects. Which institute is she doing B.Sc. from? I would say that you should ask her to spend some time dedicatedly on the learning ecosystem of Coursera / eDX / Udacity. That will give her a lot of exposure outside of the theoratical knowledge.

      She can pick up masters / specialization basis her interest later.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  19. Ashok

    Kunal,

    Thanks for that. She is doing B.Sc. from Christ University Bangalore. Is M. Sc. in Maths or Statistics more useful for Analytics jobs.

    1. Kunal Jain

      What are you comparing them against?

  20. Sagar

    Hi Kunal,

    I have 6 yrs of work ex in market research/corporate strategy roles, and am conisdering getting into the analytics world. My experience has been in the automotive sector. However, I am more interested in knowing how to use analytics for functions such as marketing, market entry planning etc., rather than becoming a data scientist. In that regard, I would look to be in a brand manager, marketing manager role in a data incentive industry such as FMCG retail, car sales, etc. Would you suggest that I take 1 yr course by any of the following institutes:

    1> Great Lakes
    2> ISB
    3> IIMs

    Thanks in advance,
    Sagar

    1. Kunal Jain

      Sagar,

      My recommendation would be in following order – ISB, Great Lakes and then IIMs

      Regards,
      Kunal

  21. Shiva

    Hi Kunal,

    I am M. Sc. Chemistry and working as Scientist in a R&D with 4.5 years of exp.
    I am very much interested in Business Analytics but having 0 exp. and knowledge in the same.
    I am good in Mathematics as Maths and Physics were my principle subjects in B.Sc.
    Now, if I want to switch to BA then what would be the correct route for me? And which courses and expertise I have to do.
    I am 28. If I start applying for entry level jobs in R/ Data analysis or BA would any companies consider me seriously? Please advise me the stepwise approach for the same and all possible concerns and angles regarding the same. Also what would be the entry level salary if so.
    Please advise.

    Best Regards,
    Shiva.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Shiva,

      Best route would be to do a few certifications along with the practices mentioned in the article. You should be able to good entry into BA post initial certification.

      Entry salary varies between 5L – 12L depending on your skills and role.

      Kunal

  22. Jay

    Hi Kunal,

    Had a good read at your article above and also the comments following. Very helpful indeed.

    I could use some expert advice myself. I’m a BE graduate from Bangalore in 2009. I didnt take a job in IT following that. I did set up an Advertising firm a year and a half after that, it didnt turn out very well. (Lack of experience and guidance in the field).
    However after that i set up a business in my home town, a franchise of a very well known 2 wheeler company. I’ve been running this business successfully for the past 2.5 years. I have now passed on the business to my sibling and wish to get into the corporate world. (Most will think i’m out of my head but i have my reasons.)

    Anyways I’ve done a little research on Big Data Analytics and it’s something i wish to pursue further. Firstly given my background, is this the step in right direction for me? Also i expect to move to States in a few years, after having built up the platform here(education and work ex) .
    I’m good with numbers and have a creative edge. How would you guide me on this.

    Kindly Advise.

    1. Kunal Jain

      Jay,

      That sounds like a lot of experience and plan. Given that you have already passed on your business to your sibling, I would suggest that you take up an intense short duration course. There are several courses on Udemy, which can be of help.

      Once you have gained some experience, you might find it easy to move to the US

      Regards,
      Kunal

  23. Arun

    Hi Kunal,

    No one would be more appropriate than you to address my concern.

    I’m a Physics M.Sc. from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, India, and graduated on 2008.
    Since 2008, I have been working in Scientific research field. In the mean time I have obtained my Doctorate degree in Nanotechnology last year, and presently I’m 29 + years old.
    I’m so far experienced with Matlab, Fotran, and beginners’ level Java programming.

    it’s the end of last year when I finished a paper (already published in reputed international journal) using Matlab, I re-realized my intrinsic inclination towards math and stats, and my happy hours in front of computers, though that paper is not related to analytics.

    also In recent time, I have been realising the importance of working areas like Business analytics. And having a reasonably good background on Statistics and mathematics, and by realising the huge potential of this field for future job market, I consider myself giving a try to switch my career direction towards analytics.

    But so far I’m not experienced with analytics. but i know i love data, i love solving puzzles related to data, and most of the time i can crack them.

    Do you think that if I obtain few relevant certificates (I’ll follow your suggestion), then I’ll be considered as a suitable candidate for analytics jobs?

    I’m ready to work hard and learn whatever is possible, I’ll like to invest at least another 6-7 months to learn in parallel to my present job ( research fellow, dept of physics), and then i’ll apply for job.

    DO YOU think already 30 years + (by the time i’ll apply) is a kind of disadvantage for me?

    Will my phd get a positive consideration, though it’s not analytics based, rather it’s experimental nanotech.

    Please advise,

    Thanks in advance,

    Best regards,
    Arun

    1. Kunal Jain

      Arun,

      Here is some good news! You are very well placed to build a career in analytics.

      A lot of companies are looking out for people with Ph.Ds in various fields, because of the ability to research and build new algorithms. If I was in your place, I would quickly learn subject knowledge on analytics and machine learning, apply to jobs specifically meant for these kind of jobs and give my career a flying start.

      I think it is a matter of couple of years before you are at par with any experienced person in the domain – as long as you are determined to pick up a steep learning curve.

      Regards,
      Kunal

      1. Arun

        Thanks a lot Kunal, I do really appreciate your comment.

  24. Arindam

    Hi kunal,

    I am economics graduate and mba marketing. After that i have. Around 3 yrs experience in banking in mortage based credit. After which i have around 3 yrs of experiene in cognizant in business operations where i need to do lot of data analysis using excel and sql. I have also completed my base sas global certification recently. Also have knowledge of statistical concepts.
    Is it possible for me to move internally to analytics vertical/look for analytics job outside?

  25. Mridu

    Hi Kunal,

    I am planning to shift my career to Analytics with focus on Big Data and Social Media Analaytics. I did my Bsc in Life Sciences and then MBA marketing. Did not study Maths/ Stats after 12th. Currently working for 3 years in Account(Client) Management role. Can you please suggest how can i shift my career to Analytics and please name some reputed institutes which would provide me online certified courses.

    Regards
    Mridu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>