Anthony Fejes has been hanging out in the bioinformatics sub-reddit and noticed the same question coming up there over and over again: How do I become a bioinformatician?
At his blog, he offers some advice to aspiring bioinformaticians. First, though, Fejes says there isn't one path to becoming a bioinformatician, though they certainly have to have a grasp of basic programming, cell biology, and math or statistics.
But after that, there are many types of bioinformaticians who fit into different niches and rely on different tools, he says. The trick is "learning where your strengths and weaknesses lay, and using them to your advantage," he says.
For instance, Fejes writes that after getting his master's degree, he felt that the main gaps in his training lay in big data and databases, so that's what he focused on for his PhD.
"Bioinformatics is just a special case of toolbox building, in that you need the tools of at least two disciplines in your toolbox," he says. "What you chose to put into your toolbox is entirely up to you, but (to stretch the toolbox analogy just a little too far), take a few minutes to ask if you'd like to be a plumber or a carpenter before you start collecting your tools."