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9/9/2020
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Cynthia Harvey
Cynthia Harvey
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Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs

Data science jobs aren't as plentiful as they used to be. Here's a snapshot of where average salaries and postings stand today.



A year ago, data science was undeniably among the hottest tech careers. Even as recently as this past April, analytics salaries were holding steady. However, as in so many other areas, the pandemic changed everything.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, tech jobs seemed largely unaffected by the crisis. But that shifted throughout the late spring and summer. A July report from job site Indeed.com warned that technology job postings were not only below their 2019 levels, they were actually much lower than overall job postings. "On July 24, the overall job postings trend was 21% below its 2019 level," the site said. "But tech jobs were hit harder, settling at 36% below last year’s level for weeks and showing no signs of bouncing back."

And according to Indeed, data science job listings have fallen even more sharply than tech jobs in general. In fact, as of July they were 43% below their 2019 levels.

Why the sudden drop off in data science jobs?

Even before the pandemic began, analysts said that employers were shifting away from the "data scientist" title toward more specific descriptors. For example, a data science position focused on security might be called "cybersecurity analyst," rather than "data scientist." Or a data science position focused on using machine learning to create new products might be called an "AI product manager."

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

But this specialization trend doesn't tell the whole story. The overall number of data science jobs with any title has also fallen.

A report in the MIT Sloan Management Review explained that data science models were completely inadequate at predicting what was happening in 2020. Because no one has experienced a year quite like 2020 in recent memory, no one had data that could help predict what would happen. As a result, the report said, organizations pushed pause on their advanced analytics efforts and turned their attention to basic reporting that could at least tell them what was going on. The report authors wrote:

"Every analytics manager we spoke with described the same basic reaction as the pandemic began to disrupt their operations: Regardless of whether the pandemic caused the demand for their company’s products and services to plummet (as it did for, say, apparel) or to spike dramatically (for instance, toilet paper), there was an almost instantaneous shift away from more advanced analytics focused on prediction and optimization to descriptive analytics such as reports and data visualization."

Does that mean data science jobs are going away for good?

Probably not. Most people who study career trends for a living seem to believe that data science jobs will eventually rebound and become even more essential than ever. While it might be slightly more difficult than it was in the past to find a data science job during the next few months or even a year, salaries still seem to be rising, which is a good sign for those in the field.

The following slides take a closer look at 10 different job titles associated with data science. In addition to offering a description of each, they also include average salary data and the number of job postings on Indeed.com for each job title at the time of writing. It's worth noting that the salary numbers come from three different sources that use three different methodologies, which accounts for the differences among them. The Indeed salary averages come from job postings, the Glassdoor numbers come from site users who self-report, and the Robert Half figures come from surveys and other sources.

 



1. Data Scientist

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $125,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $129,000
  • Glassdoor.com: $113,309
  • Indeed.com: $121,662

Indeed.com Job Postings

3,793

Data scientists work with very large data sets to uncover insights of value to their organizations. Their responsibilities include building models, cleaning and integrating data, selecting algorithms, performing analysis, and creating reports. In the past, most data scientist job openings required at least a master's degree if not a doctorate, but today more entry-level data science jobs are open to candidates with only a bachelor's degree in data science, statistics, math, computer science, or a similar field. Most require proficiency with a programming language like R or Python, and many employers are looking for candidates with experience with specific database and analytics tools.



2. Data Analyst

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $100,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $103,250
  • Glassdoor.com: $62,453
  • Indeed.com: $75,034

Indeed.com Job Postings

4,479

Data analysts have similar skills and duties as data scientists, but they are not expected to be as proficient at programming, complex analytics, and advanced math. Often they are very skilled at using a particular tool or group of tools, as well as at working with databases, data warehouses, and business intelligence tools. Sometimes data analysts are assigned to a specific business function, such as marketing, sales, risk analysis, or even cybersecurity. Most data analyst job postings require a bachelor's degree; the amount of experience required varies by position.



3. Analytics Manager

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • Glassdoor.com: $97,077
  • Indeed.com: $120,280

Indeed.com Job Postings

429

Analytics managers need to have both technical competence and the ability to lead a team of people. While job applicants are expected to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field (and advanced degrees are often preferred), a candidate's amount of experience is much more important than his or her degree for this role. For comparison, while many data scientist job openings require an advanced degree but only a year or two of experience, analytics manager jobs often require five or ten or more years of experience. Candidates also need good communication and collaboration skills.



4. Big Data Engineer

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $163,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $166,500
  • Glassdoor.com: $102,864
  • Indeed.com: N/A

Indeed.com Job Postings

262

Big data engineers implement and maintain data warehouses, data lakes, and other big data environments. They often work closely with both data architects and data scientists. Many big data engineers have advanced degrees in computer science or programming, but more importantly, they have a high degree of expertise with technologies like Hadoop, Spark, Hive, NoSQL databases, relational databases, and programming languages. Most job postings with this title are looking for fairly experienced candidates, often with several years' experience with specific tools like Hadoop or a particular cloud computing service.



5. Machine Learning Engineer

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • Glassdoor.com: $114,121
  • Indeed.com: $143,505

Indeed.com Job Postings

758

Machine learning engineers need a combination of the skills required to be a data scientist or a big data engineer, with a particular focus on machine learning technologies like TensorFlow or Spark. They are expected to know enough about data science to understand the type of machine learning systems that will meet the needs of the business, as well as enough about programming to develop and maintain those systems. Employers generally require that candidates either have at a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and several years of experience, or an advanced degree with somewhat less experience.



6. Data Architect

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $141,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $145,500
  • Glassdoor.com: $108,278
  • Indeed.com: N/A

Indeed.com Job Postings

1,150

Data architects are the people who design the systems that data scientists, data analysts, and database administrators use, and that big data engineers build and maintain. They need to have extensive understanding of databases, modeling, and the tools that data scientists use, as well as experience with various cloud computing services. Data architect jobs postings generally require at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field, as well as significant experience with data management, often five years or more.



7. Business Intelligence Analyst

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $110,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $115,750
  • Glassdoor.com: $76,402
  • ·Indeed.com: $95,642

Indeed.com Job Postings

512

Business intelligence analysts operate their organizations' BI software and spend a significant portion of their time creating reports. Some of them work closely with data science teams, while others work more closely with a specific business function, such as finance, marketing, sales operations, etc. Naturally, BI analysts need to be very skilled at using whichever BI software or services their organization uses, and they may also be involved in selecting BI technology to purchase. In addition, they need to have a good understanding of their industry and the kind of metrics that will be important to their organization's success. Most BI analyst job postings require at least a bachelor's degree in a STEM or business field, as well as at least a couple of years of experience working with data and reporting tools.



8. Business Intelligence Developer

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • Glassdoor.com: $81,514
  • Indeed.com: $102,163

Indeed.com Job Postings

277

Similar to a big data engineer, a business intelligence developer is responsible for designing, deploying, and maintaining BI systems and software. Essentially, they manage the technology that business intelligence analysts use to do their jobs. They also sometimes work closely with data scientists, data architects, and others involved in data management. Most business intelligence developer job postings require a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, or a similar field, and they also generally require at least a couple years of experience with business intelligence tools. Many BI developers also know at least one of the programming languages commonly used for data science, such as Python or R.



9. Statistician

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): N/A
  • Glassdoor.com: $76,884
  • Indeed.com: $98,986

Indeed.com Job Postings

1,510

Job descriptions for statisticians can vary widely. At some organizations, statisticians perform complex analytical mathematics; at others, they assist analysts and data scientists with research, and at some, statisticians mainly do data cleansing and verification tasks. As a result, statistician salaries and job requirements vary quite a bit as well. In general, statisticians need at least a bachelor's degree in statistics, math, or economics, and some of the higher-level positions require advanced degrees.



10. Database Administrator

Average Annual Salary

  • 2020 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $100,250
  • 2021 Robert Half Technology Report (50th percentile): $100,750
  • Glassdoor.com: $78,779
  • Indeed.com: $98,253

Indeed.com Job Postings

2,297

Database administrators oversee the day-to-day operation and maintenance of their employers' databases. They troubleshoot issues and tune the database for optimum performance, and some are required to be on call outside of normal business hours. Accordingly, they need extensive experience with databases, and some job postings require experience with a particular type of database software. In addition, most jobs require a bachelor's degree in computer science or another STEM field, and knowledge of SQL.

Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio

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