2019 Data Science Salaries and the Supply/Demand Gap

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In August 2018 LinkedIn reported that there was a shortage of 151,717 people with data science skills in the United States.  A January 2019 report from Indeed showed a 29% increase in demand for data scientists year over year and a 344% increase since 2013.  They also reported that searches by job seekers skilled in data science grew at only a 14% pace, clearly suggesting a gap between the number of data scientists being sought by companies and available candidates, a supply gap that is driving data science salaries.

For a number of years bachelor level candidates with intensive boot camp training were viable data scientist candidates.  We are starting to see companies balk at candidates without a more comprehensive statistical foundation and applied programming skills. Just knowing Python and regression isn’t going to be enough.

As colleges and universities scurry to add data science programs, usually a one year Master’s degree or online program, let’s look at a degree that has been in place since 2007 and its impact on its graduates’ data science salaries.  North Carolina State University was ahead of the curve in creating a Master of Science in Analytics that includes training in machine learning, text analytics, design of experiments, digital analytics, optimization, social network analysis, fraud detection and deep learning.  They require advanced programming training in Hadoop, Spark, Hive, Pig, Python, R, SQL and Tableau. Harvard Business Review grouped them as one of the best sources of talent in data science alongside Stanford, MIT, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon.  As recruiters for 30 years in data science and analytics we can confirm that the NC State program consistently graduates candidates, not only well trained statistically and computer savvy, but excellent communicators and savvy business analysts.

NC State self reports that 95% of their 2019 graduates in the Masters in Analytics program were employed at graduation, and the average base salary of the Class of 2019 was $98,500.  Here is a table they present on their website:

data science salaries



Paul Chatlos, Executive Recruiter in the field of Data Science and Analytics, compares NC State’s self reporting on data science salaries with his experience placing candidates across industries and across the country.

Mean Salary

NC State says their mean salary for graduates with zero years of experience is $92,400 and a maximum of $114,500.  These number are both high to Paul as well as the average salary number.  Paul finds candidates with zero years of experience will get offers in the $70 to $80,000 range.  In the past two years Paul has placed candidates with three or more years of experience at data science salaries of $110,000 to $120,000 range.

Base Salary Calculation

NC State explains their base salary as, “Annual base salary figures do not include signing bonuses, relocation allowances or other forms of one-time compensation guaranteed upon signing.”  What they don’t mention is an annual bonus that is not a one-time form of compensation.  Paul feels if they are including bonus in the figures in the table then he would find the table much more accurate with his experience.

Sign-on Bonus

NC State says their median for sign-on bonuses is $10,000 with a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $25,000.  Paul says he rarely sees sign-on bonuses for his candidates, unless they require relocation assistance or are walking away from an annual bonus at their current company.  It would be a rare case for a candidate right out of a Master’s program to receive a sign-on bonus particularly if they aren’t currently employed and aren’t a homeowner.

Median Number of Interviews

In the more detailed report on their website NC State says their graduates average 12 job interviews and 2 offers.  While 12 interviews in graduate school is possible as companies come to campus to meet these strong performers, only garnering 2 offers from 12 interviews doesn’t seem to scale correctly given the demand for data science and analytics professionals.  Candidates in the non-graduate program job market usually have 3 to 4 companies pursuing them at any given time.

More Than One Job Offer

NC State says 96% of their graduates see more than one job offer, which does make sense in this market.  Candidates we work with outside of entry-level Masters graduates will have 2 to 3 offers during any data science job search.  Obviously, with that type of competition, competitive offers are essential.

Forrester Research analyst, Brandon Purcell said, “They’ve (data scientists) always been in high demand, but until recently, only large enterprises and digital natives were willing to make the significant investment.  Now, almost everyone is.” 

Ready to take advantage of this booming market for data scientists?  Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Data Science and Analytics Executive Recruiter, Paul Chatlos at pchatlos@smithhanley.com to talk further.


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