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September 3, 2014

Big Data Salaries, Job Offers on the Rise

George Leopold

As demand for predictive analytics professionals grows, median base salaries and retention bonuses continue to rise as more companies in more industries jump on the big data bandwagon.

According to a salary survey of predictive analytics professionals released Sept. 3 by Burtch Works, the executive recruiting consultant, median base salaries over the last 12 months ranged from $95,000 for data analysts to $145,000 for managers.

Seventy-one percent of data workers surveyed said they were eligible for bonuses while 91 percent of managers were in line for bonuses. The median bonus for workers was $11,000 and $27,400 for managers, according to the survey of 1,586 data professionals working for more than 750 different companies.

Linda Burtch, the consulting firm’s managing director, was quick to distinguish predictive analytics professionals from, say, data scientists as big data definitions evolve. Predictive analysts are defined as working with large volumes of data, gleaning insights through the development of models and prescribing actions aimed at generating profits and reducing corporate risk.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 8.12.08 PM

(Source: Burtch Works)

Those surveyed work with data analytics tools like SAS, R, SPSS and SQL along with emerging tools like Python, Hive and Hadoop. Moreover, these data analysts are increasingly working with “digital streams of [unstructured] data,” Burtch emphasized during a conference call.

Given the growing demand for qualified predictive analysts, “base salaries have increased at every level,” Burtch added. For example, base salaries for entry-level workers increased a healthy 14 percent over the previous year. The survey also found that 139 respondents changed jobs over the past year and received a pay raise. The bump in salary for what the survey labeled as “Level 1 professionals” jumped 18 percent over the previous year.

As salaries rise, so too does demand for predictive analytics skills. Burtch said her consulting firm receives two to three queries a day from corporate clients looking to hire.

At the top of the pay scale, analysts with PhDs can attract median annual salaries as high as $227,000, the survey found.

The U.S. west coast continues to offer the highest median salaries for data analysts, $80,000 a year, followed by the east coast at $75,000, the survey found. The salary survey also shot down the notion that foreign-born workers are “tamping down” entry level salaries for data analysts, Burtch claimed.

She advised employers to distinguish predictive analytics professionals from engineers or data scientists, adding that “salary bands need to be aligned with the market” for data analysts. As competition for new analysts grows, training programs and “boot camps” should be leveraged.

The recruiter said qualified candidates generally attract multiple offers and can find new jobs in as little as four weeks. When all else fails, Burtch said, try “old-fashioned courting” of candidates. She added that more companies are again offering relocation benefits as a way to attract top data analysts.

Burtch advised predictive analysts to look beyond salary since high-paying startups can end up laying-off employees six months later. She also stressed the ability to evolve as disruptive new technologies wipe out entire business segments. “Look for opportunities to learn,” develop news skills and “don’t get pigeonholed,” she added.

Demand for predictive analysts is expected to grow in parallel with the volume and “velocity” of unstructured, streaming data. “A quantitative career” is no longer like “drinking from a fire hose,” Burtch stressed. “You’re drinking from a waterfall.”

Download the predictive analytics salary survey here.

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