I'v been doing software development work for almost a decade. I really love doing research work but I am always doing programming work in companies. I could join a PhD program 15 years ago after my MS. degree in US. But I did not continue at that time for reasons (want more money, find a job for green card, etc.).
Recently I decided to follow my true heart on sciences, instead of being a "seasoned company guy" all the way to my retirement. The machine learning/deep learning/big-data are thriving in these a few years. I cannot sit here just watching this big revolution in computer science.
Money is always an issue but will not be a big issue for me. I have accumulated quite a bit of money in the past 10 years hard working. I can be mortgage free in a few years even in this most expensive city (Vancouver, Canada). My wife has a good job too. She “granted” me 2 years to do a starter’s non-profitable work on my own. Hear is the plan: Doing part-time work to earn half salary to support the living cost and the remaining mortgage. The rest of my band-wise will be dedicated to my research work. The question is, how to start?
Option 1: be an independent researcher and developer. Spend the next year to do online study including all the necessary math/statistics skills. Become an expert on certain field. And starting to publish papers, contribute to open sources or have some software inventions/products.
Option 2: apply a PhD program and spend the next 5+ years with professors to build up the foundation to become a truly powerful researcher. I am 42 now. Do I have that much time to spend?
Option 3 is to dedicate the first year to invent and develop a software product (iPhone App, Cloud service, etc.) and try to make money on it. And use the earning as the funding to support myself on the research work. In the mean while, try to get some investment and government funding.
None of the above will be an easy way. It is not a common career path, especially for a forty years old guy with a job/salary, wife and a kid...etc.. This will be a venture. I will spend years being dedicated /obsessed ( hopefully not half-crazy) in a house at the foothill of Canada north mountain, learning/reading/drawing/typing.....
Which way to go...?