Industry Insights

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The Data Science Market: 2016 Compensation Insights

May 18, 2016
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Burtch Works is pleased to share the annual update to our highly regarded data science salary report series. Complete compensation and demographic data on 374 data scientists is detailed in this year’s report, The Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists April 2016; the full report can be downloaded from our website. This new set of data was collected by our recruiting staff during the 12 months ending March 2016.The report includes salary information for data scientists, including how salaries have changed since the last study was published in April 2015, for both individual contributors and managers. Salary data include the distribution of base salaries (quartiles and means), as well as the proportions eligible for bonus compensation along with median and mean bonuses received. Demographic characteristics are also reported, which include education, region, industry, gender, residency status, years of experience, and job category, along with how data scientist base salaries vary by these characteristics.


Sixty-nine percent of this sample consists of individual contributors, whose median base salaries range from $97,000 at level 1 (0-3 years of experience) to $152,000 at level 3 (9+ years of experience). Over 73% of all individual contributors are eligible for bonuses, and the median bonus they received range from $10,000 to $21,000, depending on level.Managers comprise the remaining 31% of this year’s sample. Median base salaries for managers range from $140,000 at level 1 (1-3 direct or matrix reports) to $240,000 at level 3 (10+ direct or matrix reports). At every level, more than 80% of managers are eligible to receive bonus compensation, with median bonuses received ranging from $15,000 to $80,000.When comparing salaries over time, individual contributors within data science saw base salary increases at level 1 (+7%) and level 3 (+1%), while salaries remained steady at level 2 (4-8 years of experience). For managers, salaries at level 1 remained steady while those at level 2 (4-9 direct or matrix reports) increased (+3%). At level 3, the median base salary decreased by 4% ($10,000).

Data Science compared to Predictive Analytics

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Data scientists continue to out-earn other predictive analytics professionals. Comparing this report’s data to our September 2015 report for the predictive analytics market (you can read the highlights from that report here), data scientists earn base salaries up to 39% higher than other predictive analytics professionals depending on job category. Data scientists see double-digit advantages at five out of six job categories.

Educational Background

Our data point to a shift in the educational background of data scientists. In this year’s sample, 59% of level 1 individual contributors’ highest degree is a Master’s, a significant increase from last year’s 48%. This increase in Master’s degree holders is counteracted by a decrease in Ph.D.’s: 28% of this year’s level 1 individual contributors vs. 43% in 2015. As alternatives to traditional academic routes (such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and bootcamps) become more commonplace, it appears that data scientists are opting for a faster route to the workplace.

Residency Status

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Another apparent result of this changing educational landscape is an increase in the number of U.S. citizens in the data science talent pool. Overall, 69% of this year’s sample is composed of citizens, compared to 64% last year. The most dramatic change was seen among level 1 individual contributors, where only 43% of this year’s professionals are foreign-born vs. 53% last year. In a field which is typically flush with many foreign-born professionals, attracted by STEM education and the OPT visa extension program, it appears that American-born students are noticeably rising in number within the data science market, perhaps looking for a route to a high-paying career.For more information you can read more about the current state of the data science hiring market, or download the full report with complete compensation and demographic data.