Industry Insights

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2021 Predictions for the Data Science and Analytics Hiring Market

February 4, 2021

This post is contributed by Linda Burtch, data science & analytics recruiting expert at Burtch Works

Want to learn more about these predictions and trends? Check out the 30-minute webinar recording at the end of this post.

Last year was undoubtedly a bit crazy, but each year I like to put together a list of my predictions for the data science and analytics hiring market, even if I’m a little late to the Predictions party for 2021! Some are for the near future, and others may take a bit more time to be fully realized, but taking the time to reflect on where we’re headed sharing my insights with you is an annual tradition I greatly enjoy.Of course, who could have foreseen in January 2020, when my last list of predictions came out, just how drastically things were going to change, and how quickly we would all have to adjust. Now, with the vaccine rollout beginning to pick up steam, I think we’re all relieved that there appears to be a light just visible at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.I always like to say that things are constantly evolving, and that we can all benefit from being adaptable, and I think many would agree with me that never has that sentiment been more accurate than it is now. Last year was a very difficult experience, but now I’d like to take a moment to look forward, and envision how the quantitative market will continue to take shape as we move further towards recovery.

Here are my new predictions for 2021 and beyond:

1. The interview process will be forever simplified

Obviously one of the widespread changes over the past year has been the dramatic shift to working from home, and along with this, a greater reliance on video calls for interviews while in-person meetings are not viable. Back in August, we pointed out that this shift has offered much greater flexibility and sped up the hiring process considerably in many cases.Why return to old ways once the pandemic is over? I could see many companies eliminating in-person meetings up until the very end stages. This can allow offers to go out in 6-8 weeks, down from 12-14 weeks pre-pandemic, which is also necessitated by the fact that with competition once again becoming so fierce, moving swiftly is more important than ever.

2. Retail and restaurant industry jobs will come roaring back

While some retailers have managed to weather the storm (or even flourished) depending on what products they sell and their ecommerce strategy, many brick and mortar retailers are struggling, and the restaurant industry has been hit especially hard. However, I think it’s very likely that once it’s safe to resume normal activities again, these jobs will come roaring back as everyone will be excited to get out and about again!

3. Yes, data science and analytics talent is really moving away from California

This trend had been picking up steam before the pandemic hit, but the widespread adoption of remote work has definitely sped up the process! With a well-documented high cost of living in places like San Francisco, many data scientists and analytics professionals are taking advantage of the ability to work from anywhere.

4. The downtown office will continue to prevail

There have been several notable examples of sprawling, suburban offices being abandoned for bustling downtown locations pre-pandemic, and we expect this to continue post-pandemic. It will be interesting to see what effect an increase in flexible office/WFH arrangements will have on this as well. With no hard requirement to be in the office every day, more office settings will turn into hoteling. You may no longer have that desk with your family pictures and snack collection!

5. Even your grandparents will know what WFH means!

In previous years we’ve had our ever-learning grandparent figures discussing AI and cryptocurrency, so what will the topic be this year? Work from home – of course! WFH has been the acronym on everyone’s minds, so expect this to be a topic on your extended family Zoom.

6. Healthtech and supply chain are hot!

These are two areas that have been thrust even further into the spotlight as a result of COVID-19, and where we’ve seen a lot of growth in terms of data science and analytics investment. Expect to see even more growth in 2021 as firms look to build on their momentum.

7. 2021 is going to be a better year for bonuses

In our recent survey results on 2020 bonuses, we found that 29% of data scientists and analytics professionals in our network were not getting a bonus for last year, and another 26% were still uncertain at that point in mid-December when we asked them. Will 2021 be any better? Tough to say for certain, but with the amount of hiring activity I’m seeing in recent weeks, I’m feeling optimistic that 2021 bonuses will bounce back.

8. Everyone will be biting their nails to get new data science & analytics salary data

As we all know, and what we’ve clearly observed by releasing our salary reports year after year: salaries are always a popular topic. But this year, with so many swirling questions about how data science and analytics salaries have been impacted by the pandemic - will the numbers from our salary study reflect downward pressure on analytics salaries given the pandemic’s impact on salary cuts, bonus reductions, and job losses? - I expect this year’s report to be even more highly-anticipated than ever before!

9. Increasing numbers of analytics graduates boost talent supply

As universities continue to graduate significant numbers of young analytics professionals, supply and demand is getting closer, at least at the junior end.

10. Shakeout on the horizon for MS in Analytics programs

With hundreds of newly-created Master’s in Analytics and other similar academic programs, not every program is going to be cut out for graduating top-tier talent. I’m predicting an upcoming thinning of the herd that will see the elimination of some of the underperforming academic programs.I hope you found my predictions interesting! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments on where you think 2021 will take us.

Want to learn more about these predictions and trends, plus how they will impact data science & analytics careers and hiring? Check out the webinar recording below!