Data scientists are analytical thinkers who perform data analysis to provide actionable insights to stakeholders. The job requires above-average intelligence, a unique combination of technical and soft skills, alongside proficiency in data analytics tools. Considering that, and the fact that the demand for these professionals has risen, the average data scientist salary is increasing every year.
The employment options for data scientists are vast, ranging from tech companies to government organizations. The amount a data scientist makes, along with their exact job title, really depends on the employer.
However, there are national averages that you can use as a benchmark. Whether you’re an aspiring data scientist or a recruiter who’s hiring, keep reading. In this article, we’ll share the average data scientist salary estimates sourced from different credible platforms.
Let’s get started.
How Much Money Can You Make in Data Science?
Data science professionals – irrespective of the cost of living – typically earn decent salaries compared to most career options.
In addition to the employer, the salary you’ll be offered depends on the cost of living and the years of experience that you bring to the table.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average for data scientists and mathematical science occupations in the US is $103,930 per year. But that figure could vary depending on a number of factors.
To help you get a better idea, let’s take a look at what the data on different recruitment websites/platforms says:
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for data scientists is $114,385 per year.
This estimate is based on 16,107 salary reports collected from all over the US from data scientists working in different companies (and having different experience levels).
The salary range starts from $81,000 and caps at $162,000.
Glassdoor also lets you view salary estimates based on factors such as the industry, company size, and years of experience.
As per the reports, the average salary for an entry-level data scientist (0-1 year of experience) is $115,557. Senior data scientists (15+ years of experience) earn $133,958 on average.
Furthermore, here’s what some of the leading tech companies are paying:
- Facebook – $132,493/year
- Microsoft – $131,210/year
- Amazon – $124,091/year
As of now, Glassdoor doesn’t have any information on the additional compensation for this role.
Keep in mind that these estimates fluctuate with new reports and general changes in the economy.
As per the reports collected on Indeed, the average base salary for data scientists is $120,379 per year in the US.
This figure is based on around 3,500 reports received on the platform.
Indeed also shows that some of the common benefits for this role include:
- Commuter assistance
- Stock options
- Gym membership
- Referral program
- Adoption assistance
- Parental leave
- Flexible schedule
Additionally, the platform also shares the highest paying cities for a specific role.
As of now, the highest paying cities are mostly in California, with San Francisco topping the list ($160,046/year), San Diego standing at number 4 ($129,747/year), and Los Angeles being the 5th highest paying city ($127,895/year). New York City stands at the second spot, where data scientists get paid $140,205/year on average.
Furthermore, the top 3 companies that pay the best include Selby Jennings ($202,455/year), Facebook ($176,972/year), and Airbnb ($176,719).
According to PayScale, the average data scientist salary is $96,501 per year.
Compared to other platforms, this figure is a bit low. The salary range starts from $67,000 and goes up to $135,000.
These figures are based on 8,189 salary reports.
Like other platforms, PayScale also lets you view salary figures based on where you’re based, experience level, employers, and a few other filters.
Reports suggest that an entry-level data scientist can earn around $85,304 (inclusive of all additional compensation). Data scientists with 20+ years of experience on average take home $135,896 in total compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you’re interested in becoming a data scientist, you should know how to pursue this career path (and whether it’s worth pursuing in the first place or not).
Below, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about this role:
Do I Need a Degree to Become a Data Scientist?
Generally speaking, you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a data scientist. However, most data scientist jobs prefer candidates who do have a bachelor’s or an advanced degree in a relevant field.
Preferred academic fields include data analytics/science, computer science, statistics, and mathematics. These requirements are the same as the data analyst role.
With that out of the way, an important thing to note here is that practical experience and technical knowledge matter more than academic achievements.
A degree can give you a competitive edge, but make sure that you’re skilled in the following areas:
- Stats and Probability – you should be proficient at running descriptive statistical analyses. Knowledge of distributions, skewness, and other key terms/areas is also a prerequisite.
- Big Data – data scientists are required to manage large datasets. Having some experience with relevant big data platforms like Hadoop, Apache Storm, and Flink.
- Data Visualization – finally, data scientists should be well-versed in the art of data visualization. With this skill, they can communicate the key business findings they come up with to the stakeholders.
In addition to the aforementioned technical skills, a data scientist should also know how to dabble with artificial intelligence and related technologies.
Soft Skills Requirements
Furthermore, the required soft skills include:
- Communication – to convey the insights to the key business stakeholders.
- Leadership – more experienced data scientists are expected to step up to solve any issues with how data is treated, onboarding new recruits, and leading the data science team.
- Team management – being able to constantly communicate back and forth and play well with others is a must.
If you take care of those skills, you’ll make leaps and bounds in your career.
Can Data Scientists Make 200K?
According to WSJ, data scientists with doctoral degrees can earn from $200,000 to $300,000 with only 2 years of experience.
As mentioned earlier, this really depends on the company you work for. In addition, having advanced academic credentials, data science certifications, and the unique set of skills you bring to the table also decide how much you’ll earn.
Generally, all major positions related to business intelligence (data engineers, scientists, and architects) pay relatively well, because of the unique combination of skills they require.
The “data scientist” job title emerged only about two decades ago when an increasing number of businesses started to realize the potential of extracting, managing, and analyzing big data.
Despite being a relatively new position, it can pay really well, depending on your years of experience, the company you work for, and the depth of your job description.
Who is the Highest Paid Data Scientist?
It’s difficult to pin down the highest-paid individual because not all professionals are comfortable sharing their salaries with the public.
However, it’s possible to find out the countries where these professionals earn the most.
According to a survey, data scientists in Denmark have the highest salaries (with an average median salary of $175,905). This data includes all experience levels, industries, and levels of skills.
Switzerland, Australia, and Belgium followed, with median salaries of $113,018, $103,459, and $101,791 respectively. US stood at the 5th position, with a median salary of $100,560.
The same survey suggests that the median salary in the US has decreased over the year (from $110,000 to almost $100,000). Considering those numbers, it’s safe to say that the BLS has the closest estimate of the average data scientist salary in the US.
If you’re about to take a leap of faith and move to a new place to work as a data scientist, you might want to consider how much it actually pays relative to where you’re currently residing. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of living and other variables when making a decision.
Wrapping it Up
A knack for mathematics, proficiency in statistical analysis, and experience with complicated business intelligence tools – coupled with general business astuteness – is what it takes to break into the data science career.
Considering how demanding their career path is, it makes sense that the average data scientist salary in the US (and most places in the world, as we saw earlier) is in six figures.
Depending on the geographical region you’re seeking employment in, and the experience you bring to the table – you could end up earning less than the national average. Don’t get discouraged, because as you progress through your career and find better roles, you might even start earning higher than what most of your peers do on average.