Data Scientist Salary Guide: What to Expect

Written by Coursera • Updated on

If you’re interested in a career as a data scientist, several factors should inform your salary expectations. Learn how your location, education, and experience can play a role in how much you can earn in this exciting career path.

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Are you considering a career as a data scientist? If so, it is a great career path with plenty of opportunities. As data becomes more and more important for businesses to use in making critical decisions, the demand for data scientists is likely to follow. 

What is a data scientist?

Data scientists perform many essential duties. Among those include identifying problems that could be solved by data analytics and determining the correct data sets and variables to analyze. They also analyze data to identify important insights and report to decision-makers who will use the information to steer the company in the right direction. 

Tip: To find out more about the data science field, consider taking Introduction to Data Science offered by IBM on Coursera.

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Being a data scientist can be very rewarding and profitable, but what exactly can you expect in terms of salary as a data scientist. As you consider whether or not this career path is right for you, hopefully, the information here will help guide you along the way.

Benefit from a strong employment growth rate

Between 2020 and 2030, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the employment rate for data scientists to grow by 22 percent by 2030 [1]. 

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How much do data scientists make?

The median mid-level data scientist salary is $130,000, according to a 2020 Burch Works study. The median entry-level salary is $95,500, and senior-level data scientists earn a median of $165,000 [2].

Because data scientists can bring a tremendous amount of value to the organizations they work for, this makes a lot of sense. However, even though the median salary for a mid-level data scientist is attractive, many factors can influence a data scientist’s salary. Here is a quick breakdown of some of those factors.

How location affects salary

Salaries for data scientists can vary significantly from region to region. According to Indeed, here is a list of data scientist salaries in various cities in the US [3]: 

  • New York City, NY - $146,430 

  • San Francisco, CA - $138,337 

  • Austin, TX - $126,683 

  • Irvine, CA - $126,251 

  • San Diego, CA - $119,662 

  • Chicago, IL - $118,863 

  • Houston, TX - $113,3937

  • Redmon, WA - $111,312 

  • Atlanta, GA - $105,436

How education affects salary

As with many careers, the more educated a person is, the higher the data scientist salary tends to be. To become a data scientist, you will at a minimum need a bachelor’s degree and coding skills. However, many data scientists obtain master’s degrees and PhDs. The higher your education level, the higher you generally expect your income level. 

Read more: Bachelor’s Degree Guide: Resources for Your Undergraduate Education

The more experienced you are as a data scientist, the more money you will likely make. As a general rule of thumb, data scientists can expect an additional $2,000 to $2,500 salary increase for every year of experience. Also, managers tend to make more than standard data scientists. The table below gives a breakdown of average data scientist salaries by experience [4].

Experience LevelExpected Salary
Data Scientist Level 1$85,000–$110,000 (0-3 years of experience)
Data Scientist Level 2$120,000–$140,000 (4-8 years of experience)
Data Scientist Level 3$148,000–$185,000 (9+ years of experience)
Data Scientist Manager Level 1$132,000–$164,000 (supervises 1-3 people)
Data Scientist Manager Level 2$180,000–$210,000 (supervises 4-9 people)
Data Scientist Manager Level 3$210,000–$275,000 (supervises 10+ people)

How your career path affects salary 

Your career path can significantly impact your earning capabilities as a data scientist. As a general rule of thumb, working for high-quality large companies will usually enable you to get a higher salary compared to working for a smaller company. For example, the top 5 highest-paying companies for data scientists in 2020 are Snap, Inc., Airbnb, Netflix, Pinterest, and Lyft, according to Galvanize. These companies pay data scientists an average salary of between $209,000 and $240,000 [5].

 However, it is not just the company you work for that can determine your salary as a data scientist. Moving up in terms of roles can also help you increase your earning power.

You can generally expect a salary bump every time you level up from a Level 1 data scientist to a Level 2 data scientist, and so on. Also, being a data scientist manager, which typically requires supervising others, tends to pay more.

Build new skills

The more skills you have as a data scientist, the more valuable you will usually be to a given organization and the higher the salaries you can typically expect. Earning a bachelor’s degree in data science or a related field such as computer science is a good start. However, it would help if you also focused on mastering as many of these skills as possible:

  • Machine learning

  • Programming

  • Risk analysis

  • Cloud tools

  • Software engineering skills

  • Statistical analysis

  • Data Mining, cleaning, and munging

  • Big data, platform usage

  • Data warehousing and structures

  • Communication

Although all the technical skills are important to master, do not forget about communication. Remember that managers tend to make more money in the data science field, and to be a good manager, you will need to be a good communicator.

Consider graduate school

As of 2020, 94 percent of data scientists hold a graduate degree [4]. So, if you want to be a competitive candidate in this field, then earning a master’s degree in data science could help you significantly. You might be able to get an entry-level job with a bachelor’s degree in data science or a related field or with a certification from a data science bootcamp. However, to progress in the data science field, you will most likely need a master’s degree.

Read more: The Master of Science (MS) Degree: A Guide

What are the next steps? 

To elevate your chances of becoming a highly paid data scientist, you should focus on advancing your education and gaining any practical experience possible. Gaining experience, getting the proper degrees, and mastering the skills of a data scientist are top priorities for most data scientists who progress in the field.

If you need help mastering the skills of a data scientist, consider one of the professional certificates offered on Coursera, like the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate.

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Article Sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook; Computer and Information Research Scientists, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm." Accessed March 21, 2022.

2. University of Wisconsin Data Science. "How Much is a Data Scientist Salary?, https://datasciencedegree.wisconsin.edu/data-science/data-scientist-salary/." Accessed March 21, 2022.

3. Indeed. "Data Scientist Salary in the US, https://www.indeed.com/career/data-scientist/salaries." Accessed March 21, 2022.

4. The Burtch Works Study, August 2020. Salaries of Data Scientists & Predictive Analytics Professionals, https://www.burtchworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Burtch-Works-Study_DS-PAP-2020.pdf." Accessed March 21, 2022.

5. Galvanize. "10 top-paying companies for data scientists in 2020, https://blog.galvanize.com/10-top-paying-companies-for-data-scientists-in-2020/." Accessed March 21, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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