Why Data Science 'Rock Stars' Earn Big Salaries

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 2016-10-04 Email

When they demonstrate their tech wizardry with mission-critical solutions, data science professionals place themselves in the driver's seat for lofty compensation packages, according to a recent survey from O'Reilly Media. The accompanying "2016 Data Science Salary Survey" indicates that today's data scientists in the United States are typically members of the six-figure salary club, as many consider themselves quite formidable at the negotiating table. In their roles, they conduct data analysis to respond to research questions and provide needed input to key decision-makers. And these professionals continue to hone their skills in high-demand programming languages (such as SQL, R and Python) and big data platforms (including Spark, Hive and MongoDB)—all of which makes them more valuable to their organization. "When tools become industry standards," according to the report, "employers begin to expect them, [so] it's in your interest to keep up with new technology. If you apply for a job at a company that is clearly interested in hiring someone who knows a certain tool, and this tool is used by people who earn high salaries, then you have leverage knowing that it will be hard for them to find an alternative hire without paying a premium. This information isn't just for the employees, either. Business leaders choosing technologies need to consider not just the software costs, but labor expenses as well." More than 980 global data scientists, engineers, programmers, researchers and other data professionals took part in the research.

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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