I am a software developer looking for a new set of challenges. I am therefore seriously considering undertaking study towards a Masters of Science in Bioinformatics (I have a bachelor degree in Comp Sci).
My background in industry (and what I love doing) is working with large databases / datawarehouses, data visualization and performance optimizations, which on the surface of it looks like a good fit for bioinformatics. I do enjoy working in a commercial setting.
I have done extensive reading on the field and find it fascinating. In a perfect world this would be the only consideration. However, I am a little concerned about the economics of such a move.
From talking with people associated with the degree, it looks like salaries in Bioinformatics are about half as much as one would make as an experienced software developer in industry. This would amount to a halving of my wage and all the lifestyle changes that entails.
The people I have spoken to have quoted $50k - $60k for entry level (Masters) positions. To go much higher seems to require a phd or post-doc research. Does this sound accurate?
It appears to me that the wage disparity is partly due to the youth of this industry and the academic / research institutions in which it sits. Is there a trend to more work being available in a commercial setting? Are such wages higher? Or do you feel this industry is likely to remain in the domain of academic research for the foreseeable future?
It seems that almost all the software used in bioinformatics is open source. I agree that this is excellent for research, but does this come at the exclusion of commercial software?
At some point in the future (5 - 10 years), I would like to be able to build a software product or services company servicing the bio-tech industry. At this point does that seem like a pipe dream?