What is the job market for bioinformaticians like in Canada? Current and future trends? Also, what type of bioinformatics-related skills will be of high demand?
Hi vlau, wow, difficult question… but i’m glad you asked 🙂
>> What is the job market for bioinformaticians like in Canada?
This somewhat depends on where you are, however a good place to start is by checking out https://bioinformatics.ca/jobs This will give you at least an idea of what kind of bioinformatics jobs are available and where. My own experience when hiring for bioinformatics positions has been the following: it’s hard. It’s hard to find experienced bioinformaticians, not just locally, but period. That is, maybe half of the CVs submitted came from abroad.
>> Current and future trends?
Due to rapidly evolving technology paired with the plummeting cost of generating sequence data, we now have a situation where the bioinformatics community is sitting on hoards of data. Furthermore, this data is being generated faster than it can be analyzed. Now, there are a few reasons for this, but essentially it boils down to the fact that there aren’t enough bioinformaticians to tackle it all. And so, I would say that the demand for bioinformaticians is currently very high. And because this data isn’t going anywhere soon, i’d say that the future holds much of the same. You can have a look at this article which talks about the global demand for bioinformaticians http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/features/2014/06/explosion-bioinformatics-careers
>> Also, what type of bioinformatics-related skills will be of high demand?
Since this is a relatively new field, where specific bioinformatics training/degrees have only been around for a short time, bioinformaticians have often come from one of two fields, namely biology and computer science. And so, many bioinformaticians can be classified as computer scientists that have learned the biology or biologists that have learned to write code. And so, a highly valued skill is the ability to “speak both languages”, that is, fluent in code as well as the science. But if you’re looking for specifics, i’d say experience with the following would suit you very well:
- UNIX, UNIX, UNIX
- Python and R programming languages (with C and Perl to a lesser degree)
- Experience with bioinformatics tools — e.g. samtools, various aligners, IGV, etc.
- Machine Learning
Have I left something out? Probably. But you can get a good idea of this on your own by looking at job postings and seeing what employers are looking for. Many of these skills are also transferrable to other disciplines… e.g. If you are a machine learning expert, someone form Amazon might just hunt you down and tackle you on your front porch. Final note, I would advise you to speak with your supervisor/PI for more advice.
Hope this was helpful.