Applied Data Science

Data Scientist Salaries — High Pay in an Exciting, In-Demand Field

Data Scientist Salaries — High Pay in an Exciting, In-Demand Field

In addition to driving innovation across nearly all industries, data science is a field that pays high salaries to the skilled professionals who understand how to discover valuable insights hidden amid vast amounts of raw information.

Despite recent disruptions in all employment sectors caused by the COVID-19 crisis, a leading-edge study of the data science employment landscape reports, “We are still seeing fierce competition for top tier talent, with many in-demand candidates receiving multiple offers quickly.”

The following information on data science salaries comes from a survey of more than 500 data science professionals conducted by executive recruiting and staffing firm Burtch Works, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus additional sources. Read on for a deep dive into data science salaries, salary growth, data science salaries by region and by industry, data science salaries with a master’s or Ph.D., and more.

Data Scientist Salaries Overview

Simply stated, data scientists earn high salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median salaries of $122,840, with the top 10% earning more than $189,780.

The 2020 Burtch Works salary survey reports base median salaries from $92,000 to $250,000 depending on years of experience and, for data science managers, level of responsibility. It is important to note that salary figures here represent gross annual wages and do not reflect additional compensation and financial incentives such as relocation assistance, sign-on bonuses, annual bonuses, stock options, or other long-term incentive plan compensation.

Data Scientist Salaries by Experience

As in many professions, salaries get higher depending on your level of experience. The Burtch Works study breaks down the following six different categories of data scientists and data science managers based on years of experience and level of managerial responsibility, respectively:

Data Scientist | Level 1 (0-3 years of experience)

Data Scientist | Level 2 (4-8 years of experience)

Data Scientist | Level 3 (9+ years of experience)

Data Science Manager | Level 1 (supervises 1-3 people)

Data Science Manager | Level 2 (supervises 4-9 people)

Data Science Manager | Level 3 (supervises 10+ people)

Respondents to the survey from the above categories reported the following median base salary ranges:

Data Scientist | Level 1 ($85,000–$110,000)

Data Scientist | Level 2 ($120,000–$140,000)

Data Scientist | Level 3 ($148,000–$185,000)

Data Science Manager | Level 1 ($132,000–$164,000)

Data Science Manager | Level 2 ($180,000–$210,000)

Data Science Manager | Level 3 ($210,000–$275,000)

According to the study, “Data science continues to be a young discipline with median years of experience (equaling) 6 years.”

Data Scientist Salaries by Industry

Because data science’s capacity to discover valuable insights and help solve business challenges touches nearly every sector, there is a strong demand for qualified data scientists across a broad spectrum of industries. Key sectors with an ongoing need for data scientists include:

Technology | Financial Services | Health Care | Cybersecurity | Government/Military | Academia | Media | Retail | Manufacturing | Energy

The many additional areas now impacted by data science include: marketing, aerospace, travel, transportation, energy, food, sales and service, business intelligence, agriculture, automotive, mining, field service, utilities, telecom, construction, and more.

Here is a closer look at the Burtch Works survey’s breakdown of the percentage of data scientists working in various industries:

Technology (plus Telecom/Gaming) — 26%

Corporate (plus Energy/Manufacturing) — 21%

Financial Services — 13%

Consulting — 13%

Retail & CPG — 7%

Health Care/Pharma — 11%

Advertising/Marketing — 6%

Academic/Government — 3%

Data Science Salaries by Industry Technology All Others
Data Scientist | Level 1 $80,000–$107,000 $80,000–$110,000
Data Scientist | Level 2 $120,000–$140,000 $110,000–$145,000
Data Scientist | Level 3 $155,000–$185,000 $149,500–$200,000
Data Science Manager | Level 1 $133,500–$168,750 $130,000–$150,000
Data Science Manager | Level 2 $176,000–$212,500 $162,500–$200,000
Data Science Manager | Level 3 $240,000–$280,500 $236,500–$250,000

Source: Burtch Works Study (2018)

Data Scientist Salaries by Region

Data scientists working on the West Coast reported the highest median base salaries in the Burtch Works survey, with those in the Northeast earning more than their high-tech counterparts in the nation’s midsection.

Data Science Salaries by Region West Coast Middle U.S. Northeast
Data Scientist | Level 1 $83,750–$111,250 $85,000–$105,000 $90,000–$115,000
Data Scientist | Level 2 $120,000–$150,000 $115,250–$139,000 $120,000–$140,000
Data Scientist | Level 3 $155,000–$200,000 $145,000–$182,500 $145,000–$180,000
Data Science Manager | Level 1 (sample size too small) $130,000–$154,313 $140,000–$171,500
Data Science Manager | Level 2 $192,750–$221,250 $175,000–$210,000 $175,000–$200,000
Data Science Manager | Level 3 $215,500–$292,500 $210,000–$275,000 $238,750–$271,250

Data Scientist Salaries by State

You can also find interesting data about the data science employment landscape at employment sites such as ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, Indeed, and others. (Note: Salary-by-state data typically does not account for years of experience.)

Springboard.com lists California as having the highest average salary for data scientists at $142,338. ZipRecruiter’s review of data scientist salaries by state places New York ($130,980) and Massachusetts ($129,742) in the top spots.

Data Scientist Salaries at Top Companies

This category is a bit of a moving target, but tech training company Galvanize offers the following list of “10 top-paying companies for data scientists in 2020.”

      1. Snap, Inc. — $238,000
      2. Airbnb — $223,000
      3. Netflix — $222,000
      4. Pinterest — $212,000
      5. Lyft — $209,000
      6. Etsy — $207,000
      7. Uber — $206,000
      8. Facebook — $198,000
      9. Twitter — $198,000
      10. Dropbox — $183,000

Data Scientist Salaries by Education

Level of education is another critical factor when it comes to salaries in data science, a field where the vast majority of practitioners hold advanced degrees. The Burtch Works survey puts this figure at 94% — with 50% having earned at least a master’s degree and 44% holding a Ph.D.

(Additionally, the report notes that 25% of data scientists hold a degree in statistics or mathematics, 22% have a computer science degree, 16% hold a degree in the natural sciences, and 24% hold an engineering degree.)

Here is a look at survey results with the level of education factored in:

Data Science Salaries | Education Salary Range with Master’s Salary Range with Ph.D.
Data Scientist | Level 1 $85,000–$105,000 $90,000–$115,000
Data Scientist | Level 2 $115,000–$140,000 $125,000–$145,000
Data Scientist | Level 3 $144,250–$180,000 $160,000–$198,750
Data Science Manager | Level 1 $133,000–$169,500 $132,500–$160,000
Data Science Manager | Level 2 $169,500–$200,250 $184,000–$216,500
Data Science Manager | Level 3 $200,000–$265,000 $231,250–$296,250

Source: Burtch Works Study (2020)

How to Boost Your Salary in Data Science

Data scientists are in demand, but competition is strong for the best, highest-paying jobs. Therefore, one of the first steps when exploring the data science job market is to do some in-depth salary research on websites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and others to help get a clear idea of your market value.

Statistics about data science salaries by region, by industry, and education level all offer insight into possibilities for earning higher pay. But it is also helpful to keep in mind that part of the role for many data scientists is that of the storyteller — presenting data-driven insights that help solve business challenges in a way that is understandable to decision-makers.

So look for ways to effectively tell your own story to prospective employers in the interview process. Rather than just listing off skills and experience, look for ways to talk about what inspires you about data science or share an anecdote about your journey as a data scientist.

Next Steps

As mentioned above, it’s no secret that the vast majority of data scientists hold an advanced degree. If you are considering earning your master’s degree to pursue or advance a career in data science, or if you are seeking a data science master’s program to complement an advanced degree in another discipline, you may want to take a close look at the innovative, online master’s degree program offered by the University of San Diego.

Providing optimal flexibility for busy working professionals, USD’s Master of Science in Applied Data Science is taught by experienced data science practitioners and tailored to the needs of industries and employers.

Students gain comprehensive technical knowledge and skills, while developing a deep understanding of how to apply both hard and soft skills in real-world applications in a top-quality degree program designed to position graduates for career success — and high salaries — in this vitally important and fast-growing field.

[RELATED] University of San Diego Launches Online Master’s Degree in Applied Data Science

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