Data Scientist: America’s Highest-Paying Entry-Level Job

Everybody seems to love data scientists at the moment. Companies want to hire them in droves; students are pouring into schools to learn how to analyze even the largest and messiest datasets.

According to new data from Glassdoor, “data scientist” is the highest-paying entry-level job in the U.S. this year, with a median base salary of $95,000. Of course, companies willing to pay an entry-level worker that amount of money usually throw in some additional benefits and perks, as well, such as stock and flexible schedules.

In Glassdoor’s reckoning, in fact, data scientist far surpassed two other super-in-demand jobs, software engineer ($90,000 median base salary) and product manager ($89,000 median base salary), for the top slot. (In fact, if you’re looking for an entry-level tech job that pays quite a lot, you have your choice of positions, based on the overall list.)

“Not only is this role high paying, but it has also reigned as the Best Job in America for four straight years, touting strong job satisfaction and numerous job openings as well,” Glassdoor wrote in the blog posting accompanying the data. “As more companies across various industries continue to invest in technology and collect mass amounts of data at scale, data scientists play an increasingly vital role in organizing and analyzing data to produce valuable insights that can inform key business decisions.”

This seems like the right moment to bring up TechRepublic’s story from the other week, which suggested the market for data scientists is actually crumbling a bit, based on pay for the position shrinking 1.2 percent year-over-year. In fact, that publication cited Glassdoor’s own data in drawing that conclusion.

As further evidence, TechRepublic cited a blog posting by Vicky Boykis, senior manager for data science and engineering at CapTech Ventures, who suggested data science faces an oversupply of talent at the moment.  

Our analysis of Dice job postings showed that job postings for data scientists rose steadily between 2016 and 2018, with a huge spike early last year. After that, the rate collapsed back to 2017 levels, and has risen slowly ever since. In other words, demand continues for data scientists, but a rising number of graduates might mean fiercer competition for entry-level slots; if you want job security (and tons of money), specialize in a particular industry or analytics-related skillsets.