Compensation of Data Scientists: Insights from the Past Year

July 24, 2015
219 Views

ImageWe are pleased to present our update to the first-of-its-kind 2014 report, The Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists. This year, we compiled information on 371 data scientists for whom we know compensation as well as in-depth demographic information and job characteristics. This information was collected by our recruiting staff during the 12 months ending March 2015.

ImageWe are pleased to present our update to the first-of-its-kind 2014 report, The Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists. This year, we compiled information on 371 data scientists for whom we know compensation as well as in-depth demographic information and job characteristics. This information was collected by our recruiting staff during the 12 months ending March 2015.

This report shows salary distributions for data scientists – both individual contributors and managers – as well as how these have changed since the last study was published in April 2014. Finally, it shows how these vary with job characteristics, such as level, industry, and location, and with other demographic traits, such as education. This post contains some of the highlights and most interesting findings.

Seventy-one percent of the sample consists of individual contributors. Their median base salary is $120,000, and 71% are eligible for a bonus. The median bonus received is $15,650. The other 29% of the sample are managers. Their median base salary is $170,000, and 82% are eligible for a bonus. The median bonus received is $36,000.

From the 2014 study to the 2015 study, data scientists who are individual contributors saw an increase in median base salary that ranged from 14% for those at level 1, with 0-3 years’ experience, to 0% for those at level 3, with 9+ years’ experience. For those who are managers, the increases ranged from less than 1% for those at level 1, with 1-3 direct reports, to 8% for those at level 3, with 10 or more reports.

Compensation varies most significantly with job type and level: whether one is an individual contributor or manager, and with scope of responsibility. The median base salary of individual contributors varies from $91,000 for those at level 1 to $150,000 for those at level 3. The median base salary of managers varies from $140,500 for those at level 1 to $250,000 for those at level 3. The proportion of individual contributors eligible for a bonus varies from 69% for those at level 1 to 75% for those at level 3. Between 79% and 87% of managers at all levels are eligible for bonuses.

The median years of experience of data scientists declined significantly from the last study, from 9 years to 6 years. This is indicative of the influx of new people into the data science field. With data science being declared the “sexiest job of the 21st century”, and the increasing prevalence of MOOCs and boot camps in addition to the new programs at more traditional universities, students are flocking to this booming profession. Only time will tell if these fledgling programs are successful at producing industry-ready data scientists.

Data scientists realize a median base salary increase of 16% when changing jobs, which is crucial information for organizations looking to hire and retain data scientists. Since these professionals can realize such a high increase in pay if they choose to change organizations, it is important for companies to make sure their salary bands are competitive to avoid attrition, and to offer compelling compensation packages when recruiting.

A significant shift since the 2014 study is the decline in the proportion of data scientists employed by startups. Startups accounted for 14.3% of the employers in our 2015 sample, a sharp drop from last year’s 29.4%. In an increasing number of industries, data science capabilities are becoming mandatory in order to stay competitive. Even more traditional legacy corporations are hiring data scientists, and many are launching entire data science departments. This influx of opportunities at more traditional firms is being welcomed by data science job seekers. Many data scientists are turning to more stable options after witnessing or experiencing first-hand the uncertainty of the startup world.

This post is an excerpt from our newly released data science salary study, to download the full report with more detailed compensation data, demographic information, and how data science salaries compare to predictive analytics salaries, click here.

Follow Burtch Works on Twitter or LinkedIn to get the best quantitative career news and blog updates delivered right to your news feed, and check out our YouTube channel for access to all our latest salary information and webinars!