I have a PhD in plant physiology and worked several years in the area of molecular biology. I am interested now in changing careers and getting into the field of bioinformatics to work on freelance base. How is perspective freelance bioinformatics? What should I do to get started?
I would suggest that you take a look at this earlier question and the answers to it: Bioinformatics Consulting Thoughts
Other than the obvious, namely to learn as much bioinformatics as fast as you can, you should very early on think about the following:
- Who would be your potential customers? Would it be labs at universities who do not have a bioinformatician employed, or would you aim at industry? Which contacts do you have that could help you get the first customers?
- Which types of data would you need to deal with? Which kinds of data do your potential customers currently have problems analyzing themselves?
- Do you imagine to do more or less run-of-the-mill bioinformatics analyses, or would you aim for more customized services?
- Where do you expect to do the work? Would it take place at the customer's site or would you do the work remotely? If you plan to work at their site, how would you have a portable infrastructure that enables you to work efficiently? If you plan to work remotely, how will you handle data security?
These are just a few things that one should think through before starting. I am sure the above list is incomplete.
Lars' first point is key, especially the first and last questions. It will be important to identify specifically how you could help those groups/individuals in terms of projects and project length. You may identify a need that can be fulfilled in a week, then what do you do?
You also should contact people who are or have done this type of freelancing. I'd suggest you contact Jim Lerner and pose some questions to him. He's done freelancing and consulting in the USA and Europe for many years. He someone I've known for 12 years.