Best Job in America: Data Scientist!

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A recent Glassdoor report ranks the 50 best jobs in America by job satisfaction, salary and number of openings on their website. Three of the top five jobs are in the data analytics field: #1 is Data Scientist, #3 is Data Engineer and #5 is Analytics Manager. Why are these positions in such demand, how are these positions defined and how do you make yourself marketable in one of these roles?


The online world has created seemingly limitless amounts of data to be captured, cleaned and analyzed. Technology is struggling to keep up along with academic institutions adjusting degrees and training to prepare candidates for this data onslaught. These jobs have a short supply of candidates and not-yet-up-to-speed technological capacity fighting with overwhelming demand.

#1 Data Scientist

Over 4000 openings on Glassdoor with this title, a $110K median base salary and a 4.4/5.0 level of job satisfaction. Job satisfaction partly comes from knowing your skills are in incredible demand within and outside of your organization. It’s nice to be wanted!

Specific Data Scientist skills:
1. Education: 88% have a master’s degree and 46% have PhDs typically in Statistics or Math but could also me in a quantitative IT program, Operations Research or very technical social science area. Must know classical statistics, Bayesian statistics, linear algebra for machine learning applications….depth and breadth to your math knowledge.
2. Software: In depth knowledge of R and secondarily SAS.
3. Coding: Python, Python, Python
4. More Coding: Writing and executing complex queries in SQL is preferred but NoSQL and Hadoop are starting to overtake it.
5. Platform: Knowing the Hadoop platform is a huge selling point, as is experience with Spark, Hive or Pig. This implies an ability to work with unstructured data.
6. Intellectual curiosity. Openness to learning new things. Ability to utilize those new things in solving problems in unique ways. This specialty is still evolving and keeping up and innovating should be a passion.

#3 Data Engineer

Over 2500 openings on Glassdoor, $106K median base salary and a 4.3/5.0 level of job satisfaction. This is an interesting title. To some companies it means an IT person, to others this employee sits in the Data Science group as an integral part of the analytical process. The job is make sure the data is flowing smoothly between where it is collected, the source, extracting and processing it and turning it into output that can be statistically analyzed. This person might be a software engineer with database design skills but they also might come from the analytical side with strong R or SAS coding abilities.

#5 Analytics Manager

Almost 2000 openings with a median base salary of $112K and a job satisfaction of 4.1/5.0. This is the “old” job title before everyone became enamored of Data Scientist. Often these titles are interchangeable. Occasionally an Analytics Manager title can be different if it is focused on the management of staff (they all could still be data scientists and data engineers), or interaction with external or internal clients for “marketing” or explaining the analytical services. Interpersonal skills and consulting polish could define this position differently from a classic data scientist opening.

For more information on how to break into this exciting and booming career choice, contact Smith Hanley Associates Executive Recruiter, Paul Chatlos, at pchatlos@smithhanley.com or 203-319-4300.

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