Salary Changes for Quant Workers: What Can You Expect?

May 4, 2013
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One of the most interesting parts of my job (or at least the part that my candidates find most interesting) is staying informed about the market value of quantitative workers. Everyone wants to know what kind of increase they can expect from a job change, and with my unique vantage point, I can give you a better idea of what’s ‘normal’ in terms of compensation increase when you make a change.

One of the most interesting parts of my job (or at least the part that my candidates find most interesting) is staying informed about the market value of quantitative workers. Everyone wants to know what kind of increase they can expect from a job change, and with my unique vantage point, I can give you a better idea of what’s ‘normal’ in terms of compensation increase when you make a change.

When evaluating salary change data over the past 18 months of nearly 200 candidates, I have seen both extremes and everything in between with base salary increases. As far as what predictive analytics professionals can expect, the average base salary increase is 14.1%. More junior candidates see slightly higher average increases of 14.3%, with senior candidates at the VP level seeing increases of 12.6%. 
 
             workforce analytics
 
We also took a look at salary increase from an educational perspective and found that candidates with a doctorate degree see an average increase of almost 16% in salary, while those with a Bachelor’s can expect something closer to the overall average of 14%.

          quant worker

Of course these data are ever changing, and depending on the current state of the economy, these increases will rise and fall respectively. Candidates expecting a 15 or 20% bump in base pay with each move they make, however, will be disappointed with the reality of more conservative increases, especially on the senior end. And while the average pay increase for candidates is 13.7%, most people actually see changes closer to 6-10%, as seen in this graph:

        analytics

Although some candidates do receive pay increases of 20% and higher, it’s important to keep in mind that these are usually candidates with uncommon circumstances. Oftentimes these people are underpaid to begin with and making up for lost ground. However, if you are hoping to increase your salary by more than 15% in your next position, there are some ways to help make this happen. Being flexible with geographic locations certainly increases your negotiating position. You could potentially generate multiple offers and consequently reap a higher salary. In addition, more remote locations have a more difficult time attracting strong candidates and may pay more than a larger metro area. Candidates might also consider roles with heavy travel and longer hours to better weigh options with higher salary. Consulting companies are one of the leading industries hiring quantitative workers and can present competitive compensation packages. Moving into a potentially risky business too, while not as safe of a bet, can be rewarded accordingly.
 
Initial salary offers sometimes come with a bit of wiggle room, but the art of negotiation is delicate and if you choose to engage you should proceed with caution. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be working closely with the person with whom you’re negotiating, and you want to be mindful of your future professional relationships. Be tactful and appreciative, and if working through a recruiter, strongly consider having them take the reins. Recruiters are well versed in negotiation and can best represent you to your employer while getting the best offer possible.
 
Salary increases haven’t been as significant as one might expect with all the talk of Big Data in the media, but I am curious to see what these numbers will look like next year as the data craze continues and more companies look to expand their analytics practices. That being said, it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything and there is a myriad of other factors in your compensation package to consider when switching jobs including bonus, stock options, sign-ons and relocation assistance, health benefits, 401k, and much more. Most importantly, you need to ask yourself what a new job means for your long term career. This very well may have the biggest impact on your lifetime earning potential.
 
Stay tuned for more salary analysis in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on salary increases and whether my findings have been in keeping with your experience.