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June 28, 2021

Hiring, Pay for Data Science and Analytics Pros Picks Up Steam

(Shahril KHMD/Shutterstock)

Demand for data science and analytics professionals increased over the first two quarters of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to a newly released analysis by Burtch Works. Salaries have also rebounded nicely following an initial drop due to the SARS2 pandemic, the group found.

The market for data science and analytics is “booming,” says Burtch Works in its most recent report. According to its survey, which was released June 25 and can be accessed here, 73% of data science and analytics teams planned to hire over the first six months of 2021. That was up significantly compared to January 2020, when 67% of the teams said they planned to hire.

More than half of the organizations surveyed by Burtch Works from March 2020 through the end of May 2020 had staffing impacts on their data science and analytics programs. That includes salary cuts, hiring freezes, furloughs, and layoffs, although salary cuts were the most popular.

By the end of 2020, many teams were starting to ramp up their hiring again, Burtch Works says, adding that, at a good number of organiations, hiring was never slowed down, as demand for their products never dropped, or actually increased, as a result of COVID-19.

“In many cases, teams also found themselves pulled into crisis-oriented analytics and being critical to navigating the crisis may have helped to insulate data science and analytics teams from more drastic staffing impacts,” Burtch Works says in its report.

Salaries were up across the board among analytics professionals (Source: Burtch Works 2021 survey)

There are positive signs in terms of salaries, too (at least positive from the point of view of workers; for business owners, the increases may be a negative). When it compared salaries during the “pandemic economic period” from May 2020 to January 2021 to salaries from “the recovery economic period” from February 2021 through April 2021, Burtch Works found leading indicators that “show we’re at the beginnings of a salary trend increase,” the company says.

“We found that when we examined salary means, as well as salary ranges (1st quartile to 3rd quartile) there was a noticeable upward trend among many job levels for both the data science and analytics samples,” Burtch Works says in its report. “While the data in these samples are from relatively early in the economic recovery, these leading indicators appear to show salary growth picking up in 2021, and, when combined with a growing economic boom, we are predicting that this will translate to salary increases in our 2022 report.”

The survey showed some salary increases for various levels of data analytics professionals (or those who work primarily with structured data) from the heart of the COVID period to the post-COVID (or recovery) period.

Burtch Works survey, which it conducted in partnership with the International Institute for Analytics (IIA), also showed more steady salary increases across the board for various levels of data science professionals (which Burtch Works defines as those who work primarily with unstructured or streaming data) from the heart of the COVID period to the post-COVID (or recovery) period.

In terms of specific retails driving growth, Burtch Works identified retail and the ecommerce boom occurring online as one driver. Healthcare also appears to be accelerating, the company says. In its 2017 report, two out of five data scientists it surveyed were employed by tech firms, a ratio that dropped to one out of five in 2021, it found.

PhDs are more prevalent in data science than data analytics, according to Burtch Works 2021 study (Source: Burtch Works)

“While many data scientists may have felt in previous years that the most advanced data science applications were only to be found in West Coast tech firms, there has been a proliferation of machine learning and deep learning in even more traditional industries, as well as an increase in innovative startups in a variety of industries,” Burtch Works says in its report.

The firm found a slight increase in the number of data scientists with PhDs in its sample. PhD-holding data scientists who have proved they can translate their research abilities into business applications “will often have the advantage in the hiring process,” it stated. Traditional MBAs are falling out of favor, it found, and are being replaced by “quantitative-focused programs like an MS in Business Analytics or MS in Data Science,” Burtch Works said.

In terms of geographic locations, salaries were higher on the West Coast for both analytics and data science professionals than other parts of the country. Mid-level analytics professionals earned a mean of about $117,000 per year, compared to $105,000 on the East Coast, the survey found. Meanwhile, mid-level data science professionals on the West Coast earned a mean of about $141,000, compared to about $134,000 on the East Coast, it found.

The hiring and salary trend bodes well for data science and analytic professionals, as well as the managers that business-owners are counting on to drive home the big data benefits.

“Overall, our data and conversations with both employers and professionals indicate that 2021 data science and analytics hiring is accelerating rapidly,” Burtch Works says. You can access the report at

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