Career change 101 (finance / accounting / statistics edition)
September 29, 2016 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I am wanting to shift careers toward finance, accounting, statistics, or something else quantitative. Ideally, I'd like to find a role that can be done as a freelancer. I'm a bit uncertain how to even start.

Last week, I wrote out a long question describing what I thought I was looking for, which got just one answer. Since then, I've been trying to figure out how to learn more about these fields and begin to figure out a path for myself. So far, I've begun to read university webpages (e.g. "what our grads are doing") and industry material (e.g., webpages like "what do accountants do?").

Do you have other suggestions?

If you made a career change, how did you chart out your direction?

Thank you for any advice you can offer.
posted by Dollar Dollar Bill Sock to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Book-keeping and accountancy come to mind.

Book-keeping is doing the books for small businesses and non-profits so they can go to the accountant. Many many small businesses employ book-keepers to come in regularly and 'do the books'. Our non-profit had one come in each fortnight to do the accounts and work the accounting software.

You don't say what country you are in or what your local conditions are like. So it is hard to give definitive answers. However, in my neck of the woods, book-keeping is below degree level, more like an advanced certificate, so it's not hard to learn, especially if you like numbers.
posted by Thella at 8:09 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could try searching for job descriptions based on key words such as "statistics" and "accounting." (You may have to try a few different keywords and combinations). Read the descriptions, see if any jump out at you. Then ask yourself what stands between you and being qualified for that job. If the answer is nothing, then apply! If you identify some additional skills you need to build, go for it.

Also do some searches on LinkedIn and see if there's anyone in your network who is in an industry or doing something similar to what you'd like to do. Try to get an introduction and arrange coffee or drinks to talk to them about what their day-to-day looks like, what the general outlook of the field is like, etc.
posted by bunderful at 8:43 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You don't say what country you are in or what your local conditions are like

I currently live in a major metro area in the US (think: NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Portland), but my goal is to develop freelancing skills I could use to work remotely from a smaller town area.

I appreciate the thoughts shared so far. Thanks!
posted by Dollar Dollar Bill Sock at 4:34 AM on September 30, 2016

I saw your last question but didn't reply, even though I work in a data analysis field, because I fear you want something that may not exist. A 100% flexible, lucrative, at-home job is pretty hard to find; otherwise we would all be doing it. The example of the kind of project you'd like to work on is one that my research center might well take on, but we have a reputation and academic credentials to leverage for the trust of our clients. You didn't mention possessing a relevant PhD, which would be our requirement for hiring someone to work in a contractor-type position. You may find organizations that will, but without demonstrated proof of your work in their specific field, it will be quite difficult. And if you're striking out on your own, you'd be competing for clients with groups like mine. You could charge less because of your low overhead, but you'd need to find a way to seem credible.

It's difficult for freelancers in almost any field to be able to control their workflow to both give them summers off AND steady work at other times. Jobs start, end, or drag out in unexpected ways; clients who like your work may go elsewhere if you're not available when they want you. If you have the social and professional connections to build a client base to start with, that will make it viable; otherwise you're walking a very hard road.
posted by metasarah at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Becoming an actuary sounds like it might be a great fit for you. You don't need to get a degree - you just need to be able to pass a few exams to demonstrate ability. You can become either an SOA or CAS actuary - look at the website for more details. I was a career changer into this field, and it was about 6 months between making the decision to do this and actually landing a job, which I think is hard to do in most other fields. You will need to have good (but not amazing) math skills (which it sounds like you do). MeMail me if you want more details. Becoming a freelancer would be hard, but certainly after you've put a few years in it's very common to work from home permanently, work part time, work remotely etc. I know people at my large Fortune 100 company with arrangements to work from home two days a week, work part time three days a week, work from home altogether, work from San Diego or Miami instead of the cold Northeast etc.
posted by peacheater at 10:06 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for your thoughts. It's helpful both to know what is unlikely to work as well as what might work. Much appreciated.
posted by Dollar Dollar Bill Sock at 1:01 AM on October 5, 2016

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