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August 20, 2020

Data Science Salaries Are Flat, But Analytics Teams Weather Pandemic

George Leopold

For all the clamor about the shortage of data scientists, an analysis of median salaries for data crunchers shows only a slight increase in salaries over the previous year.

The latest Burtch Works study of salaries for data scientists and predictive analytics professionals found a mere 1 percent increase in media pay over the previous year. Median entry level salaries settled at $80,000, with increases based on job level rising to $135,000. Managerial salaries ranged as high as $250,000.

Overall, salaries for data scientists and analysts was flat when compared to last year. “Salaries remained fairly steady, either showing no change or increasing slightly,” Burtch Works reported on Thursday (Aug. 20.).

Salaries for experienced data scientists ranged from a median base of $95,000 for entry level positions to $165,000 for mid-career professionals. Overall, data scientists tend to earn more than predictive analytics specialists, owing to a high prevalence of PhDs among data scientists.

“Highly specialized skill sets required to analyze unstructured and/or streaming data, and smaller talent pool… can all drive up salaries,” Burtch Works said.

The survey of more than 2,200 data scientists and predictive analysts found that recent graduates continue to “flock” to big data positions. “The increased visibility of both careers in recent years has led to a surge of interest from both students entering the market and career changers alike, which has caused both samples to skew further towards the early career levels,” the survey found.

Meanwhile, Burtch Works reported that the percentage of women pursuing data science careers jumped from 28 percent for those with up to three years of experience to 36 percent in 2020.

In terms of educational background, the survey revealed a “noticeable decline” in business degrees, including MBAs and business analytics, along with an increase in mathematics and statistics degrees. For data science, there was also an increase in engineering degrees.

“This may be due to candidates opting to strengthen their quantitative credentials for greater career opportunities over the more general MBA track,” Burtchworks said.

The pandemic also has shaped the data analytics profession. The survey found that 75 percent of organizations have shifted to “crisis-oriented analytics,” Burch Works said.

While 18.2 percent of organizations reported that “decisions are being forced so quickly that there is no opportunity to use proper analytics to address them, the fact that 45 percent of organizations are keeping analytics front and center could be part of the reason why layoffs and furloughs are still the exception for analytics teams.”

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