Study Reveals Why Data Scientist Keeps Ranking at the Top of Every Best Jobs List
Posted By Terri Williams on May 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm
Data scientist is at, or near, the top of just about every “best jobs” survey, report, or study released in the past few years. Harvard Business Review named it the sexiest job of the 21st century. And with a median base salary of $96,000, data scientist and some engineering specialties are in a very small group of high-paying jobs that don’t require a medical or law degree. However, you’ll likely need more than a bachelor’s degree, as you’ll find out later in this article.
To help demystify the world of data science, GoodCall turned to The Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists 2016, which contains comprehensive compensation, education, demographic and industry data on data scientists. And we also spoke with Adam Flugel, a Burtch Works data science recruiter, about the report.
Below are selected excerpts from the study:
DISTRIBUTION BY EDUCATION
92% of data scientists have an advanced degree:
|Highest level of education|
You might think that future data scientists major in “data science,” but the field is so new that most colleges don’t offer a specified degree in this area. So, what do data scientists study in college? Below is the distribution of data scientists by area of study:
COMPENSATION BY EDUCATION
There’s not much difference in compensation among individual contributors with a Master’s degree and those with a Ph.D.:
|Job level||Education||Median base salary|
|Individual Contributor, Level 1||Master’s degree||$96,000|
|Individual Contributor, Level 1||Ph.D.||$100,000|
|Individual Contributor, Level 2||Master’s degree||$125,000|
|Individual Contributor, Level 2||Ph.D.||$125,000|
|Individual Contributor, Level 3||Master’s degree||$150,000|
|Individual Contributor, Level 3||Ph.D.||$155,000|
Note: the sample size for bachelor’s degree was too small to report
However, among data science managers, there are discernible differences between having a Master’s degree and a Ph.D.:
|Job Level||Education||Median Base Salary|
|Manager, Level 1||Master’s Degree||$130,000|
|Manager, Level 1||Ph.D.||$148,250|
|Manager, Level 2||Master’s Degree||$186,000|
|Manager, Level 2||Ph.D.||$190,000|
|Manager, Level 3||Master’s Degree||$230,000|
|Manager, Level 3||Ph.D.||$250,000|
DISTRIBUTION BY INDUSTRY
Data scientists work in a lot of sectors, but it turns out you won’t find many working for the government:
|4%||Retail & CPG|
DISTRIBUTION BY GENDER AND REGION
Most data scientists are male, and live on the West or East Coast:
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DATA SCIENCE
How salaries could increase
While data scientists earn lucrative wages, it’s possible that salaries could be pushed even higher. Adam Flugel, a Burtch Works data science recruiter, tells GoodCall that (1) business acumen, (2) communication, and (3) specific vertical experience could increase a data scientist’s wages. “Companies are still struggling to find all of these traits in a data scientist, so they’d pay for it if they found it.”
Why data scientists are in such high demand
According to Flugel, “Data is so cheap to store en masse now, and so many devices, apps, and systems are producing data constantly, there’s more data now than ever before that could be potentially mined for insights.” And he adds that companies are also trying to keep up with the Joneses, and have a fear of missing out. If other companies have data scientists, they believe they need them as well.
Whether this trend will continue
“With more – not less – data to analyze, especially with the whole Internet of Things rolling around the bend,” Flugel says the demand for data scientists isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
And considering the level of education and skills required to succeed as a data scientist, he doesn’t envision salaries plummeting in the near future. However, as the supply of talent increases, Flugel says he does expect salaries to level off.