6 months ago by
I’ll just get this out of the way at the start: there are lots of questions like this on the forum (especially lately for some reason). Pretty much all of the advice there will be relevant, so have a look around the site (there is a search bar).
“Should I” is a question only you can really answer.
If the question is, are there jobs in bioinformatics, or, will I be employable? Then yes, absolutely. It would not be a ‘waste’ of you time to follow it as a career. If you have some practical biological education, then hold on to that firmly too, as bioinformaticians with true biological insight are still a rare (and much more sought after) breed.
Unlike the first answer here, I dont particularly place much value on MSc’s. You can get on to PhD courses directly without needing one, and its perfectly valid to ‘learn on the job’. Particularly if you want to be what I call a “Type II” bioinformatican - i.e. analysing data rather than writing tools specifically.
The only thing in your post that would give me pause I think is that you state you want to go in to academia. This is, of course, totally possible, however, academia is increasingly difficult to make a path in to. In the UK, less than 1% of PhD graduates ever go on to hold a professorship, for instance. The reason I mention this specifically is that I believe bioinformatics has an even harder time of it than most. Bioinformaticians still often struggle against being seen as a ‘service’ rather than a legitimate discipline in their own right. This can (does and has) make pushing your way in to academia as a bioinformatician that bit more difficult. It’s improving over time for sure, but there are still a breed of academics that think bioinformaticians should be ‘seen but not heard’.
It’s not all doom and gloom however. Academia has always been notoriously difficult to navigate. I would seriously recommend giving some consideration to joining biotech startups. They’re growing exponentially, and are very thirsty for informaticians. You’d get to do all the same work in all likelihood (and be paid more to boot!).
Some practical advice for an interview scenario might include:
- Ensure you’re as comfortable with programming and the Unix commandline as you can reasonably be.
- Familiarise yourself with publications in the type of data you’re interested, and particularly get to know at least the names of some of the big software suites in that area.
DISCLAIMER: My opinions are based heavily on my experience in the UK system. It’s possible that elsewhere (e.g. Italy) MSc courses are more highly valued for example. So, take what I’ve said just at face value!
modified 6 months ago
6 months ago by
jrj.healey ♦ 12k