Data Scientist Career and Salary Outlook

| ComputerScience.org Staff

Data Scientist Career and Salary Outlook
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Data science sits at the intersection of many computer science disciplines. By pulling, analyzing, and organizing figures, data scientists interpret large datasets to make information more understandable for decision-makers.

Glassdoor named data scientists the third on its list of 50 best jobs in America in 2022. This accolade is based on job satisfaction, openings, and a median starting salary of $120,000.

Are you considering data science as a potential career path? Explore data scientists' responsibilities, salary figures, and employment projections to determine if the profession fits your goals.

What Does a Data Scientist Do?

Data scientists store, organize, and interpret data to help others make informed decisions.

Usually, these professionals work with business decision-makers to improve operations, finances, and other key aspects of their businesses. They also work with data engineers and data analysts to construct data networks, storage, and model solutions.

Data scientists rely on a deep understanding of computer systems and artificial intelligence in their work. Then, they use models, graphs, and data sets to communicate their findings to stakeholders.

Security is a primary concern for data scientists, who must ensure the security and confidentiality of stored data. A lack of full transparency of a business's target problems can make it challenging for these professionals to assist with data-driven solutions.

How Much Can You Earn as a Data Scientist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median data scientist salary for 2021 was $108,660. However, salaries vary significantly in the data science career path based on experience, education, and specialization.

For instance, a data scientist with certifications and training in several tools, like Apache Spark or Python, might earn more than one without the same credentials.

Similarly, some industries pay higher salaries. The BLS lists computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing as the top-paying data scientist career sector. Data compiled by Fortune indicates that data scientists earn higher salaries than in previous years, regardless of industry and other factors.

Median Annual Salary of Data Scientists, 2021


$108,660

Source: BLS

Data Scientist Salary by Experience

The average data scientist salary increases with experience level, according to Payscale data from July 2022. With less than one year of experience, these professionals earn an average of $85,730. After 20 years or more, their salary increases to an average of $134,980.

This shift in salary potential typically occurs because data scientists become more knowledgeable with experience. Employers may have more interest in highly skilled data scientists and offer them higher pay.

Data Scientist Salary by Education

The tables below list the average salaries for data science professionals based on their education level and degree type.

Statistics, informatics, and mathematics degrees provide foundational information for students unsure about pursuing data science or other related fields. In contrast, a computer science degree provides a more direct pathway.

Although Payscale doesn't report salaries for data science degree-holders, a bachelor's or master's data science degree are additional options. Master's degree graduates could see higher average starting salaries than bachelor's degree-holders due to their advanced skills.

However, a bachelor's degree in computer science offers a similar average wage to a non-computer science master's degree because of its relevant content for data scientists.


Discover which education path is right for you:

Data Scientist Salary by Location

How much does a data scientist make in different locations? BLS data shows that Washington, California, and Delaware are the highest-paying states for data science. Additionally, Payscale lists three California cities — Mountain View, San Francisco, and Santa Clara — as the top-paying cities.

The demand for data scientists can vary significantly nationally. The areas with the highest salaries tend to have strong technology industries that seek skilled professionals. For instance, California's tech sector is the largest in the country, with close to two million jobs.

A data science career salary may also relate to an area's cost of living. California currently has the third-highest cost of living index. Washington, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey also have a higher-than-average cost of living index.

Top-Paying Cities for Data Scientists
State Average Annual Wage Percent Above the National Average

Mountain View, California

$136,450

40%

San Francisco, California

$126,120

29%

Santa Clara, California

$126,110

29%

Source: Payscale, July 2022
Top-Paying States for Data Scientists
State Number of Data Scientists Employed Annual Mean Wage

Washington

2,460

$133,900

California

17,750

$133,110

Delaware

370

$127,810

New York

10,050

$122,540

New Jersey

2,840

$120,240

Source: BLS

Career Outlook for Data Scientists

Data scientists might worry that emerging artificial intelligence technologies could reduce the need for their expertise. However, the complexities of modern business require human solutions.

The BLS projects data scientist employment to increase by 31.4% from 2020-2030. In addition, LinkedIn's 2020 Emerging Jobs Report states that data scientists are replacing statisticians in some industries to prepare for a more advanced future in tech.

Employment Outlook for Data Scientists, 2020-2030


31.4% increase

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Data Scientists

Location can be key in launching or continuing a career in data science. Some states have vast employment opportunities, while projections show that openings in other states may grow in the coming years.

Generally, areas with tech-focused metropolitan areas, like California and New York, employ the largest number of data scientists. Still, states with fast-growing tech sectors, like Utah and Tennessee, are projected to increase their annual openings faster than other states by 2023.

Blending salary potential, cost of living, and employment outlooks may offer the best approach to finding your ideal location.

For example, Arizona's cost of living index is close to the national average at 103.2. It also has one of the strongest projected employment growth rates and pays a median annual wage of $96,990, based on BLS May 2021 data.

Top-Employing States for Data Scientists
Top-Employing States Number of Data Scientists Employed Annual Mean Wage

California

17,750

$133,110

New York

10,050

$122,540

Texas

5,850

$114,360

North Carolina

5,050

$113,980

Illinois

4,670

$104,010

Source: BLS
States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Data Scientists
State Percent Projected Change, 2021-2023 Average Annual Openings

Utah

14.3%

60

Tennessee

13.8%

40

Washington

12.5%

390

Arizona

12.1%

200

New York

11.4%

470

Source: Projections Central

Career Opportunities for Data Scientists

As data scientists gain experience, they can pursue mid-level or senior-level roles. A senior-level data scientist typically has exceptional skills in coding, data applications, and communication.

A data science career can also lead to managerial positions as project managers or department heads. Systems managers and information researchers are possible titles for data scientists taking the next step in their careers. These advanced positions usually come with more responsibilities and higher salaries.

Pursuing industry-recognized certifications, such as certified analytics professional or senior data scientist, can help data scientists advance their careers. However, some employers prioritize years of experience and skill level as the basis for advancement.

Data Scientist Salary and Outlook Questions


How much does a data scientist make?

According to the BLS, the data science average salary for 2021 was $108,660. However, this figure can vary significantly with education, experience, and location. In addition, data scientists who earn certifications may also receive higher pay.

Are data scientists in high demand?

Yes. According to the 2022 DevSkiller Top IT Skills Report, the number of data science-related tasks recruiters required increased by 295% in 2021. A Fortune article also notes that data science professionals are in such high demand that some graduates have had to turn down multiple job offers.

Is data scientist a good career?

Data science offers numerous advancement opportunities and strong salary potential. Glassdoor lists this career as number three on its 50 Best Jobs in America list for 2022 based on median salary, job openings, and job satisfaction.

What is the job outlook for a data scientist career?

The BLS reports a projected 31.4% increase in data scientist jobs from 2020-2030. This rate far outpaces the average rate for all occupations in this period of 7.7%.


Featured Image: gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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