A look at Data Scientist Jobs

Are Data Scientist Jobs Still Hot in 2017? A Look at this Top Tech Career


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In 2012, the Harvard Business Review declared that a data scientist was “the sexiest job of the 21st Century.” In 2014, LinkedIn announced that statistical analysis and data mining were the number one skill sets leading to job candidates getting hired.

However, the excitement surrounding this position was quickly bridled by the tempered tones of the cautious. In fact, Mashable quoted the managing director of New York University’s new Center for Data Science who warned that demand for data scientists had already peaked.

More than 6,700 data scientist job openings were posted in the U.S. in 2014.[1] The bold claims and high rates of growth have led many to wonder if the bubble of demand for data scientists will soon burst.

Join us as we explore the facts surrounding this exciting career and determine whether it is the booming path it once was.

The current (and future) landscape of data scientist jobs

There are many factors contributing to the overall landscape and outlook of a particular career path — from projected job growth to salary metrics and even the particular differences between a bachelor’s- or master’s-qualified candidate.

Are data scientist jobs still growing?

Those worried the demand for data scientists may have hit a lull after its strong surge starting in 2012 can calm their fears with this simple fact: Data scientist job openings have exploded!

The number of job openings in 2015 more than doubled the number in 2014, climbing even higher in 2016. And to take it a step further, the latest job opening data indicates that 2017 will see a 23 percent increase in data scientist positions.

As these numbers clearly display, the bubble certainly hasn’t burst for data scientist jobs—something many attribute to the rise of big data.

Looking beyond 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11 percent increase in job demand for computer and information research scientists (which includes data scientists) through 2024 — a rate of growth significantly higher than the national average of 7 percent.

Data Scientist Job Openings 2012 – 2016
Based on real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1,321 3,293 6,753 15,706 16,890 As of Feb 28: 3,478

Projected: 20,868

 What is the average salary for a data scientist?

The 2015 median annual salary for computer and information research scientists was $110,620, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $170,600 annually, according to the BLS[2]

Looking toward the future, Robert Half Technology predicted data scientist salaries will range from $116,000 to $163,500 by the end of 2017, increasing 6.4 percent over their 2016 numbers.

It is also true that all metrics indicate wage growth in this field is slowing even as demand continually increases. This could be due to a number of different factors. Among them is the fact that employers are seeing an increase in available candidates and/or feeling acute budget constraints.

Does a master’s degree make a difference for data scientists?

The decision to pursue a post-graduate degree in this field is subjective to the job candidate. However, before you decide which path might be best for you, consider the following fact: On average, data scientists who hold a master’s degree earn a 7.2 percent wage premium compared to their coworkers who have only a bachelor’s degree.

What does that look like in real earnings for a data scientist with a master’s degree?

If you consider two hypothetical data scientists who entered the field in 2012 — one with a bachelor’s degree and one with a master’s degree — the facts would pan out as follows: Five years into their respective careers (by the end of 2017), the candidate with a master’s degree will have earned nearly $50,000 more than the candidate with a bachelor’s degree.

If salary potential is among your most prominent concerns, the monetary difference between pursuing this path with a bachelor’s degree or charging ahead with a master’s in the field is definitely noteworthy.

Data Scientist Wage Premium for Master’s Degree
Based on analysis of Burning-Glass.com data scientist job openings with education requirements advertised since Jan. 1, 2012. Figures from 2017 are projected from data collected as of Feb. 28, 2017.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (projected)
GRAD $115,319 $124,808 $124,762 $134,156 $133,372 $132,151
BACHELOR $101,982 $111,760 $118,291 $128,336 $130,251 $124,959
GRAD PREMIUM 13.1% 11.7% 5.5% 4.5% 2.4% 5.8%

Are you ready to take the next step in your career?

If you’re looking to partake in the multitude of opportunities existing for data scientists, it may be time to head back to school to further your education—but that’s not always an easy decision for a busy, working adult.

For a fully online, flexible, self-paced degree program, check out the Master of Science in Information Systems (MIS) at Hodges University. In this program, you’ll have the opportunity to obtain the skills needed to manage technology from a senior-level management position while also juggling the demands of your busy day-to-day life.

Learn more by visiting Hodges University’s MIS information page.

[1]Burning-glass.com custom report covering data scientist job postings from January 1, 2014 to February 28, 2017.

[2]Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.