The field of data science has grown immensely over the last decade. Indeed reported an increase of 344% in Data Scientist job postings between 2013 and 2019. The skills that a data scientist possesses are needed by large corporations, the public sector, and can even benefit small business owners. With the low barrier to entry and the supply of work available, data science is a great way to start a freelance career.
In a data scientist freelance career, you have the ability to conduct your work entirely remotely, which makes it a great option for someone looking to become nomadic. Before becoming a nomadic data scientist, we offer three steps to help get you started.
Step 1: Level Up Your Technical Skills
Maybe you are already an experienced data scientist looking to become a nomad. Or you are an experienced professional that has been working in a different field and looking to make a change, both in your job and your workplace. Either way, you probably could benefit from an enhancement of your skills. Being the nomad that you are, the internet can provide a variety of options when it comes to learning and enhancing your data science skill set, no matter where you are physically located. Many higher education institutions now offer online Data Science Masters programs that can provide a well-rounded education to get started in this field. However, a more accessible path through this transition may be continuing education courses or bootcamps. There are a variety of options with this path too, whether it be a well-rounded bootcamp experience or a few classes to enhance specific skills, such as Data Visualization or SQL Fundamentals. Many continuing education providers, such as Dataquest, offer both.
Step 2: Set Yourself Up To Conduct Business as a Freelancer
When starting out on your own as a freelance data scientist, there are business factors to consider in addition to the technical skills. It’s advisable to create a business plan and make your personal brand known by establishing an online presence. Create a website showing a portfolio of previous work, client testimonials, and contact information, as well as an update your LinkedIn. Determine the rate you want to charge and services you want to offer. Create a contract or statement of work template that can be easily adjusted for signing new clients. If applicable, look into establishing an LLC, which can bring tax and liability incentives as a small business owner. Understand how much you will need to sustain you financially and include this goal in your business plan.
Step 3: Start Networking and Marketing Your Services
You have the technical skills. You understand your tax and liability implications. Now you need clients! Start looking for work, but try not to be picky in the beginning. If your grandmother’s bingo partner has a son that needs some segmentation and basic analytics done, don’t say no. Look in your existing network, ask friends and family, reach out to former colleagues, ask people at your coffee shop or coworking space or bar crawl or cathedral tour. Attend networking events. Connect with people online – there are so many great online communities for entrepreneurs and individuals trying to start as a freelancer. As you amass more experiences, you earn the right to be more picky with what work you say yes to. Avoid burning bridges because you never know who will have your dream project later down the road.
While this transition has been boiled down to three steps, don’t be mistaken about the level of effort and time that will have to be invested to make this change. With determination and the right resources for learning and building your business, you can launch your nomadic data scientist career in no time.