Data Science Salaries and What to Expect in 2022

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While the demand for data science professionals and a corresponding improvement in data science salaries has been strong for some time, pent-up demand from the pandemic pause in 2020, meant 2021 hiring was a banner year. Here at Smith Hanley Associates we saw increased openings for data scientists, data analysts, data engineers, BI professionals and credit risk analysts. Although COVID hasn’t completely gone away, we expect this growth trend to continue for data science in 2022 as well as impact from the following interesting developments.

Remote Work

Many more employers are open to having their employees working from home on a permanent basis. This flexibility allows employers to attract more candidates to open positions. Various studies, including this analysis, show employees can be as productive if not more productive when working remotely.

Hybrid Work

Some employers are also choosing to phase in a hybrid work arrangement where employees work in the office one or more days per week and then work from home the remainder of the week. This work model hasn’t been as popular with job searching candidates, but may be the work schedule of the future.

Vaccination Requirements

Many employers have been specific about requiring their employees to be vaccinated, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. A number of Smith Hanley clients have chosen not to make an offer in 2021 if a candidate would not show proof of vaccination. Firms see vaccination as a bottom line decision because a healthy employee is more productive than a sick one. Click here for a recent list of employers requiring vaccinations.

Ongoing Requirements for Data Science in 2022

Smith Hanley Executive Recruiter Nancy Darian says, “We are in an environment in which many quant professionals are open to new job opportunities. In turn, employers will be looking for candidates who check all the boxes – strong technical and communication skills, cultural fit, business sense and willingness to be flexible in terms of work arrangement.” Here are some of the specifics to work successfully in data science in 2022.

  • Solid Education Credentials – Most often a graduate degree in statistics, computer science, applied mathematics or economics. Some universities offer degrees in business analytics, which can be perceived as not technical enough by some employers but perfectly acceptable to others.
  • Superior Communication and Collaboration Skills – Hiring managers want to put quant professionals out into the business to understand line manager’s challenges. The data scientist must then translate that challenge into a solution that can be implemented.
  • Strong Predictive Modelers – You must know how to build models from scratch in Python or R.
  • Data Visualization Expertise – Being able to communicate marketing campaign effectiveness, manufacturing defects, product performance or KPIs in a compelling dashboard is becoming essential for quantitative professionals in data science in 2022.


Surprisingly, given the level of demand, data science salaries didn’t increase from 2020 to 2021. The focus by employers and employees on remote or hybrid work arrangements and the resulting perception of improved work/life balance and commuting cost savings deemphasized the need for raises. Data science salariesin 2022 should start to increase partly due to the settling in of work arrangements and the acceleration of inflation.

In December 2019 Glassdoor.com reported that from the 6606 data science salaries submitted anonymously by data scientists the average base pay was $120K. In November 2021, with 18,354 data science salaries reporting, the average was $117K. An actual decrease in an incredibly hot hiring market.

ZipRecruiter.com also reported a national average data scientist salary of $119K – consistent with Glassdoor. ZipRecruiter went on to say that data science salaries in 2021 went from $92,500 in the 25th percentile to $138,500 in the 75th percentile, a swing of $46K. Smith Hanley Data Science Recruiter Paul Chatlos saw similar salaries to what he reported in 2020, “A data scientist with one year of good, in depth experience can expect a salary of $100K. To get to $120K a data scientist has to have at least two years of experience with some advanced technique exposure like machine learning. At salaries of $140K or better, skills still have to be hands-on even if they are managing a staff.”

ZipRecruiter said New York State has the highest average data scientist salary at $130,980, but of the 10 top cities for average pay for a data scientist, California, specifically Northern California, had 7 of them. Alaska, through a very small sample size, had two cities and Alexandria, VA snuck in at #6 at $134,727 average salary. Chief Data Scientists can expect pay over $200K with an average pay in 2021 of $214,722.

Inflation is the new game in town. It will be interesting to see what it does for data science salaries in 2022.

Want to talk more about your salary or situation? Contact the Data Science and Analytic Executive Recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates, Nancy Darian at ndarian@smithhanley.com and Paul Chatlos at pchatlos@smithhanley.com.


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