Freelance analysis / accounting / quantitative / finance careers
September 21, 2016 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Hi Metafilter friends! I'm a mid-career professional seeking some advice about how to transition to a robust freelance career that relies on quantitative analysis or accounting skills. (Feel free to head straight to the comment section and start brainstorming, or read on for more.)

I'm a mid-career professional. I just had a child and want to have another. I'm in a management position, but I am considering alternatives to a salaried 9-5 lifestyle, either a small pivot from what I'm doing now, or a larger career switch. (This question is about the latter.) I'd probably work up to this over the next year or two. I live in a major metro area now (and could either go to school or get a day job to learn those skills), but I would like to eventually be able to live somewhere more rural and work remotely.

I'm hoping to find a career:
  1. That relies on my strengths in quantitative analysis, synthesis, and/or argumentation. Below, I give an example of what I'd be good at now. If I develop more skills, I'd like to move toward work that deals more with numbers or dollars.
  2. Where work is always needed and the marketing overhead is as low as possible (which I know may not be that low). In another thread, someone mentioned that they were doing an electrical apprenticeship as job insurance, knowing that electricians are always needed. I'd like to find something that indisputably needs done (tax or payroll accounting?) or that is generic enough that demand is plentiful (statistics?). Some consultants excel at creating a market for a product they've invented. I have a high standard of quality but am not a great self-promoter. And given the increasing risk of ageism, I'd like to avoid having to be the "cool new thing." I'd like to be "quite good at doing this thing that needs done."
  3. That can be done mostly on my own schedule, e.g. during naps, during the half-day at preschool, after bedtime.
  4. That can scale up and down relatively easily. I'd like to be able to cut back over summer vacations, for instance. And I'd love it if there were a clear path to ramping up and finding clients.
  5. That is lucrative. (Aren't we all wanting that?)
My favorite thing right now is taking a mess of data and telling people what it means. Here is a project I'd excel at now (from a hypothetical non-profit client): "Using this annually-updated dataset of pollution sources, identify where our state has made progress in cleaning up pollution and where efforts have stalled or reversed over the past two decades. Summarize this in a 32-page report (with charts and graphs illustrating the most essential points). Write a cover letter for our funders about why our pollution-reduction work is essential. Create a one-page set of talking points for our lobbyist to use based on this data."

I'd be interested in pivoting toward even more quantitative or financial projects with a larger possible clientele. I'm inclined in this direction -- e.g., I evaluate personal finance decisions via complicated spreadsheets -- but I'm not sure what freelance roles exist and would need to develop the professional skills.

-- Are there career pathways that would build on my quantitative inclinations but better fit some of my criteria above? What are fields where I could be a freelance numbers person with a fairly steady stream of work?
-- Are there particular options that could be ramped up quickly? (E.g., if I learned a certain statistics package, would I never run out of elance / upwork projects?) I could pay some school costs, but not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ideally, I'd love to stay in my current (very flexible) job and take online classes and then start freelancing in the evenings, but if it made sense to take an entry-level job in another field now (in my late 30s), I could maybe consider that.
-- Are there particular options that would be more lucrative or particularly stable over the long run? I would not mind a more significant ramp up if a particular pathway offered more stability and financial return.

Thank you for any and all advice!
posted by Dollar Dollar Bill Sock to Work & Money (1 answer total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I suggest local government in regions with a lot of primary industry like agriculture, forestry or mining.
posted by esto-again at 2:32 AM on September 23, 2016

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