Career change: Accounting/Finance to Data Science or SWE

New snt321
Jun 2 22 Comments

Hoping to get some feedback from the insightful community here.

I’m currently a mid to upper level Corporate Accounting/Finance guy (15+ years exp, CPA, progress towards CFA) at a growing Bay Area startup with a potential path to CFO. Currently $150k-$160k TC

I’m good at what I do and could see myself continuing down the path to CFO... but the thing is, I’m becoming more and more dissatisfied with the career path. Very long hours, lots of stress, sacrificing nights, weekends and vacation time, and startups look at Accounting/Finance almost as a necessary evil. So the job satisfaction is low.

Also, I’m passionate about working in tech, and the # of jobs for upper level accounting / Finance in tech is obviously massively lower than the # of jobs for SWE or DS in tech.

I’ve always loved coding since I was young, and have done it as a hobby on and off for years. Taken many online courses, done some Data Science and Machine Learning bootcamps, and a part of me always yearns for a career change to either Data Science or SWE. But I’ve never made the full commit to the career change because I know that many times when you think the grass is greener you just come to learn it is brown everywhere. I’m also closing in on 40 and with the preference for young college grads in SWE and DS, I’m not sure how that would pan out.

Time has come for me to decide and fully commit.

What option sounds best here:

29 VOTES SELECT ONLY ONE ANSWER
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TOP 22 Comments
  • Nvidia / Finance
    chinchin

    Nvidia Finance

    PRE
    NVIDIA
    chinchinmore
    I am in the same shoe as you. Probably apply the skills you learn and see if you can leverage the skill to work on more BI projects with BI / Data science team within the same company under your current role (moving data into sql server and create dashboard reporting, etc.). Sometimes there is a lot more data from finance side that could be further used for better data interpretation.
    Jun 2 2
    • Nvidia ML👍
      Hope we are not colleagues :)
      Jun 2
    • New snt321
      OP
      I hear you man and it’s a good step. working on BI and Data Viz is definitely part of the plan. But at a small startup that still locks you into the same role, not much opportunity to transfer like at big companies.
      Jun 2
  • Goldman Sachs secdb
    Do you have enough money to retire? If yes, then do what you love. If not, still do what you love. Life is too short to stay miserable 10 hours a day for rest of your life.

    Also, poll!
    Jun 2 1
    • New snt321
      OP
      Definitely not enough to retire yet (gotta love student loans). And good reminder on the poll! Editing now
      Jun 2
  • Nvidia ML👍
    I think my situation is similar . In 40’s and doing my masters in DS . Ping me and I can share my experience .
    Jun 2 3
    • New snt321
      OP
      That’s perfect, messaging now
      Jun 2
    • Nvidia / Finance
      fininja

      Nvidia Finance

      PRE
      NVIDIA
      fininjamore
      I would be interested in fining out more as well. I will msg as well.
      Jun 2
    • Nvidia ML👍
      Yes ping me and we can meet in big b cafe
      Jun 3
  • New tXAF78
    I was in same shoes as you. I am currently making $150k self employed and by the way i do not have CPA 10 yoe work 4-6 hours a day and the rest on school going to UW La Crosse pretty affordable. I have no background in CS at all and programming is huge hassle and i mean HUGE to me. But it is doable have been 4.0 student so far ( school takes on average 40-50 hrs on two classes) i got tired that accounting field is so undervalued and nobody wants to pay decent money. Im at the point of needing benefits and DS seems like a super interesting field, at least i have been really enjoying it as well as stats. So with my background my start will be low :( but its all about opportunity in life and enjoyment of what you do. So go for DS you will not regret
    Jun 17 2
    • Nvidia ic4cc
      Great job dude 👏👏👏
      Jun 17
    • Sentieo snt321
      OP
      Amazing, congrats my friend! I would love to talk to you more about it. Sending you a DM now
      Jun 18
  • PwC YlLC55
    Hey! I've studied accounting too and then I did a conversion MSc at Computer Science. Getting in tech in FANG might be difficult but with your skills you can definitely join the tech part of Big 4 and easily become a partner in tech there. I recently joined PwC as a software developer :)
    Jun 2 1
    • Twitter finetody
      TC at pwc as Software developer?
      Jun 2
  • Drive.ai MzMQ58
    +1 for transition to DS(also analytics). One of my friends is on the same boat and taking some time off to take courses at home and may do a boot camp as well. l'm helping him with coursework. Also happy to connect you two if you like.
    Jun 2 0
  • Credit Karma wjskc
    I would avoid data science.

    You really have two paths here: analytics or software engineering.

    If you really enjoy coding and willing to put in the effort, go with swe.

    With less effort, given your background, you can probably get analytics jobs right now. Your understanding of finance/accounting will be useful in that role + a desire to do coding.
    Jun 2 2
    • New snt321
      OP
      Appreciate the feedback but why are you opposed to Data Science? I’ve taken a good amount of statistics in college, completed a thesis, and it seems like a closer transition from Finance / Accounting than SWE would be and has very strong future growth potential, better pay, and higher job satisfaction.
      As for analytics, that would be a big step back on both pay and career growth compared to my current path towards CFO and the other 2 options which is why I didn’t mention it. Analytics jobs seem to be around $100k
      Jun 2
    • Credit Karma wjskc
      Analytics pays a lot more than 100k. Your current comp (150k) is what people with 2-4 years experience are making at mid-tier tech firms in analytics.

      Now some firms will conflate data science and analytics, if they do, sure apply for data scientist in analytics, just know you won’t be doing ML (given your background not even sure “ML” would be attractive).

      Data science is much more competitive for the same pay as software engineering, and is more credential heavy. Your finance/accounting degree will be a huge negative for data science, while for software engineering they are paying six figures for bootcamp grads.

      So basically: swe is hottest industry (highest ratio of pay to qualifications), but you don’t have much of a background. Analytics is lower ratio of pay to qualifications, but you have a substantial background. Data science has mid ratio of pay to qualifications, and you have no background for it.
      Jun 2
  • Twitter finetody
    When the next recession comes and tech starts laying off people (yes it does happen, see 2008), guess who is first to go? The cheap fresh college grads or the old timers costing the company a lot more money?
    Jun 2 1
    • New snt321
      OP
      Funny enough, when I was deciding my major back in 2003, I decided against CS because the dot com bust just happened and there were too many software engineers. Fast forward 5 years from that and the demand and pay for software engineers were higher than even the peak of the dot com era.
      Point being... recessions are temporary, Careers are long term.
      Also, I’m used to being a top achiever, and don’t expect to be making “a lot more money” than recent college grads since my current comp range is on the low end for SWE and Data Science
      Jun 2
  • New UHtz31
    how about leveraging your coding skills to automate processes (currently most likely manual) on the finance side in your current role. For time spent, that seems to have the highest ROI from all the options you stated.
    Jun 2 1
    • New snt321
      OP
      That is something I do from time to time but unfortunately that doesn’t lead to higher pay, less stress, more time off, or higher job satisfaction. Just cuts down the backlog of work which is nice but small potatoes in the big picture.
      Jun 2

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