Booming market for data scientists means starting salaries of $125,000+ this year

BY Dawn RzeznikiewiczFebruary 24, 2022, 2:22 p.m.

Students attend their graduation ceremony at South Carolina State University, as seen in December 2021, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (Photo by Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)

Now is a great time to get a data science degree thanks to a hot job market for these roles. Data scientists earned a median salary of $164,500 in 2020, according to a 2021 survey of engineering professionals by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). That’s an increase of almost 8% from the median salary of $152,500 in 2019.

Job opportunities are so plentiful that this year’s crop of graduates with master’s degrees are already receiving job offers from companies, months before graduation. “Most students are worried about getting a job, these students are like, ‘Which one should I choose?'” says Karen Panetta, dean of higher education at Tufts University School of Engineering and IEEE Fellow. “My 2022 graduates are getting offers at $125,000 and $135,000.”

Elsewhere, the strong demand for data science graduates is also translating into a steady stream of job openings and big payouts. The University of San Francisco, which reports an average starting salary of $120,000, reports that 90% of all data science graduates since 2012 received a full-time job offer within three months of graduation. graduation. At Northwestern University, Master of Science in Analytics students earned a median salary of $112,000 in 2021, not counting the 71% who reported an average signing bonus of $12,000.

The latest numbers point to a solid increase in starting salaries over the past few years. Syracuse University, the #10 program on The wealth ranking of the best master’s programs in data science, reported an average salary of $86,625 for its 2020 on-campus graduates, and the University of Virginia reported that the average salary in 2020 was $87,123.

Why companies pay dearly for data scientists

For a booming profession — data scientist is still a relatively new job title — companies are willing to pay top dollar for their data teams. This is partly due to how professionals are unlocking new ways to use companies’ huge datasets as well as a desire to use emerging technologies such as cloud computing, AI and machine learning. Automatique.

“When we think of data science, we think of it as using data to better serve customers or to anticipate the next need. But it’s really evolved way beyond that,” says Panetta. “It’s not just the ability to use math, there are so many components to data.”

Traditionally, companies have looked at data with a tunnel vision: parse the numbers, run statistical models and come up with simple forecasts, says Panetta. The problem was that the predictions were often wrong, and as a result, there was a need to hire data-savvy people with advanced skills, she adds. “Students want to enter the market and say, I have the depth to get into this and be an immediate technical contributor.”

The hottest jobs on the market

The big players still dominate when it comes to which companies employ these data science graduates. According to a Stitch survey of more than 11,000 data scientists, the companies with the largest teams of data scientists are Microsoft, Facebook and IBM, with LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple and GE topping the list. The top five employers of MDMS alumni at the University of San Francisco are Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Walmart Labs, and Google.

According to figures from Indeed, the average salary for data scientists is $109,802, but some of the big players mentioned above offer high salaries: from $161,071 at LinkedIn and $172,368 at Meta (Facebook) to $180,281. dollars at Apple.

The traditionally data-inundated industries of e-commerce, banking and cybersecurity are still among the top recruiters. But there are also a few newer industries in data science that are catching the attention of current and recent students.

Panetta tells Fortune that health and biomedical fields are emerging as some of the companies its students seek to join. “It’s more of an upward trend due to what’s happened recently with the pandemic.”

Even more than in other industries, data scientists will have to continue their training throughout their career to keep abreast of new technologies and the evolution of protocols. As Panetta shares, “It’s always going to evolve. And if [a data scientist] keeps pace and stays on top, they will be in even greater demand. »

Find out how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s ranking of top business analytics programs, data science programs and part-time, executive, full-time, and online MBA programs.

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