Data Scientist, Engineer Salaries Rise Significantly, Driven by Demand

Experienced technologists know that one of the best ways to quickly boost compensation is to jump jobs, especially if your skills are in demand. But how much of a salary bump can you expect? If you’re a data scientist or data engineer, quite a large one.

new study by executive recruiter Burtch Works suggests that, for data scientists and data engineers, some 51 percent of those who changed jobs between the second and fourth quarters of the year received a base salary increase of at least 20 percent. 

“Digging deeper, 16 percent of the sample got a base salary increase of over 30 percent and some early career professionals realized nearly a 50 percent increase in their base salaries when changing jobs,” the study added. “The average salary increase for data scientists and data engineers this year was 20 percent.”

There’s an enormous crunch for tech talent at the moment, driven by a notably low tech unemployment rate and intense hunger for technologists at thousands of organizations across the country. Hiring managers and recruiters are having a particularly hard time finding highly specialized technologists such as data scientists and cybersecurity experts. As more companies embrace data science as a tool for gaining crucial market insights, the need for data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists may only increase.

Among data engineers and data scientists, this demand, coupled with the rise of remote work, makes it a particularly good time to explore a better offer from another organization. “Now companies are competing for talent with firms across the country (as well as globally), with the West Coast and Asian tech firms driving up compensation with remote teams that can work from anywhere,” added the Burtch Works report. “Enticing candidates with compensation is now like ‘pulling up with a Brinks truck full of cash’ as one client put so well. Without the limitations of location, data scientists and data engineers can realize even more competing offers than ever before, driving the salary bidding war.”

However, not just anyone can land a data scientist job—you need to demonstrate that you have the right mix of skills and experience to help run an effective data-science program. Recruiters and hiring managers tell Dice that it’s crucial to load up your résumé and application materials with your relevant experience. During the interview process, candidates will not only be tested on their technical skills, but also their “soft skills” such as empathy and communication—remember that data scientists often need to effectively work with teams and explain their results to stakeholders across the organization.