Switching career to data science from research in Mathematics



I would like to get some idea if my husband may have chances to change his career to data science.
My husband is 42 and has a PhD in Mathematics from a very good university in France. He has an academic job in our home country doing research, and prior to that has been doing research in a top university in Germany in Mathematics. His research field is not statistics but during the last two years he has been teaching Master level courses on Statistics and Statistical Analysis and now on Machin Learning. He has some exprience with matlab and R.
He is very much talented and intelligent (one can show this in his CV I think) and a very quick learner and able to understand the most complicated level mathematics.

We are moving to Calgary-Canada and are trying to find out if he will have any possibilities to work there in Data science field (which we find the most likely field for him). He speaks English and French. I thought maybe you can help me out by telling us if you think in the data science job market in Canada how much chance he will have to get a job. Actually he is kind of person who looks for a ‘good’ job, which kind of means a job in which he uses his capabilities.
If you think there are opportunities for him, in which sub-fields in data-science it could happen better?

I would greatly appreciate if you let me know what you think.

Best regards,


Hello Sarah,

I recently left my post doc in Physics and moved into Data Science. There are few things I can comment about your story:
1- The job market is just like any another market: supply and demand. And while things seem to be going good for the field of Data Science. Your husbands prospect might be better (on average) in a larger city.

2- Calgary in particular has a huge oil industry. And while the oil business is in rough time due to low oil prices, big companies are always in need of people with high analytical skills.

3- I think your husband should start applying for positions as soon as possible (through linkedin and r-users, for example).

4- Coming from academia, with great research experience. Your husband will be certainly more qualified in many aspects expected from a typical data scientist. He knows a lot about statistics and machine learning (in theory) than many people applying for these positions. However, the private sector is more interested in solving a problem in their industry. So your husband needs to brush up on his skills in programing (R is great! Matlab is very good) he might want to start doing some projects in both and putting them on his resume (people usually make a repository on GitHub or similar places and add a link to their resume). He should certainly expect to be given a “test problem” to solve for them.

5- It is not about how smart your are or how good your academic background, it is about matching what you have with the needs of that specific posting. The more you know about Data Science techniques (python for example is popular too) the more you will be able to apply for jobs.

6- With all do respect, your husband might have an issue with his age. 42 is certainly an out-lier in a field where most people join in their late twenties. So I imagine this “might” be a concern for some people especially if the role was a junior role where his boss might be as young as his students. So he might be better suited for more senior roles, which might require some knowledge in business.

These are my thoughts about this situation. I tried to cove for you what I see as strong points and less than perfect aspects in your husbands case. Best of luck.