| ||Ask HN: Is freelance statistics/machine-learning consulting viable?|
9 points by HN-regular on Aug 14, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments |
|I'd love to hear from anyone who's making a living as a freelance statistics/machine-learning consultant, as I'm thinking of going this way myself and wondering whether it makes sense. I prefer to do Bayesian data analysis, but I'll turn to whatever tool seems to fit the job at hand. I have a lot of experience in scientific programming, not so much with industrial-scale software development (though I've read Code Complete and try to follow its main principles to the extent that they make sense for my relatively simple programs.) I have a comfortable job in academia (not tenured) but for a variety of reasons I see hard times just over the horizon for the field of research I specialize in, and I'm looking around for what's going to come next. I'm finding it surprisingly easy to interview for statistics/machine-learning type jobs at technology startups and I was thinking, these guys really want my skills, so why hitch my wagon to just one company when I could sell my services directly? One thing I love about my current job is the autonomy and independence, and it would be great to preserve that. And I don't really want to start a startup at this stage, because I don't want to have to do all the other work associated with that. A consultancy seems like a nice balance, at least for now. I know it will involve marketing, networking and collections, but that seems manageable.|
So I am looking for evidence that this is a feasible approach. Are companies interested in bringing in outside consultants to help solve statistics or machine-learning problems? It's a complete guess, but the main problem I forsee is that ideal solutions usually come from a fairly close examination of the patterns in the target data, and if that data is sensitive there might be barriers to sharing it with outsiders. I'm also curious about terms of the consulting gigs: how do you decide on the price and the criteria by which you'll be judged to have successfully completed the project? Also, it would be interesting to know the extent to which customers accept remote collaboration, as I don't live in a major metropolitan area, and kind of like it that way, though I would be happy to travel in order to set up the deals.
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