In theory, data scientist jobs at a hedge fund are some of the best-paid in the financial industry. Urban myth has it that newly qualified PhDs can land jobs at top funds that pay $500,000 soon after graduating, and seven-figure positions soon after after that. But the reality may prove rather more modest.
Speaking a conference in New York earlier this year, Richard Pook, an executive search consultant at Dore Partnership, said the only data scientists who can demand really big pay are those who can bridge the gap between the analytics team and the C-suite. Everyone else gets a lot less.
If the extent of your data science qualifications are a Master’s degree and a technical skillset, Pook said you won’t get much more than $150,000 to $200,000 in salary as a data scientist in a hedge fund. After examining the salaries given to data scientists hired on H-1B visas by top hedge funds this year, we can confirm that this is broadly correct. (According to data analyzed by Dice, an “average” data scientist with 3-6 years experience can expect to draw down $108,000 in pay, before you consider stock, bonus payouts, and other forms of compensation.)
The chart below shows a selection of salary points for recently hired data professionals on H-1B Visas at Citadel, Renaissance Technologies, Balyasny, Two Sigma and Point72. They’re pretty far from $500,000; the average salary is a relatively modest $145,000 and the lowest salaries are low (more like $58,000 for entry-level support professionals).
Clearly, these are just salaries, without other perks or benefits mixed in. And clearly, too, hedge funds are known for paying big bonuses on top of everything else. However, if your salary is $150,000, you’re unlikely to earn $1 million in annual compensation any time soon. Data science jobs in hedge funds are certainly well-paid, but the money and the mythology don’t necessarily match up.
A modified version of this article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.