Survey: The Hunt for Unicorn Data Scientists Boosts the Salaries of Predictive Analytics Professionals


Base Salaries for Individual Contributors


Base Salaries for Managers

Unicorn Data Scientists (upgraded from “sexy data scientists”) are hard to find and are paid more than $200,000 per year. A new survey finds that the rising data science tide lifts the compensation of all other data analytics professionals, even if they don’t know how to code.

The Burtch Works Study: Salaries for Predictive Analytics Professionals is based on interviews with 1,757 data analytics professionals conducted over the 12 months ending April 2015 by executive recruiting firm Burtch Works. It is a unique source of information in that it does not rely on self-reporting or data provided by human resources departments. It also provides insights into how the demand for data scientists impact the salaries of other data analytics professionals because it excludes data scientists, covered in a separate Burtch Works study, published earlier this year (I wrote about that study here).

Burtch Works defines predictive analytics professionals as those who can “apply sophisticated quantitative skills to data describing transactions, interactions, or other behaviors of people to derive insights and prescribe actions.” Data scientists are a subset of this group—they have the “computer science skills necessary to acquire and clean or transform unstructured or continuously streaming data, regardless of its format, size, or source.”

The additional computer science skills put data scientists on top in terms of compensation regardless of their levels of experience and managerial responsibilities but predictive analytics professionals are keeping up, seeing their salaries and bonuses rise. For example, the median base salary for the most experienced individual contributors rose from $115,250 last year to $125,000 this year and for managers managing teams of ten or more the median base salary rose from $225,000 to $235,000.

Predictive analytics professionals continue to benefit from the increasing demand and short supply for their quantitative analysis skills. The median base salary of individual contributors varies from $76,000 for those at level 1 (0 to 3 years of experience) to $125,000 for those at level 3 (9+ years of experience). The median bonus received varies from $8,100 to $18,100, depending on job level.

The median base salary of managers varies from $125,500 for those at level 1 (1 to 3 reports) to $235,000 for those at level 3 (10+ reports). The median bonus received by managers varies from $23,000 to $75,000 depending on job level.

More and more people are attracted by the demand for data analytics professionals and the potential to become a unicorn. Data recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics, according to, shows bachelor’s degrees in statistics grew 17% from 2013 to 2014. This marks 15 consecutive years the number of undergraduates in statistics has risen, increasing by more than 300% since the 1990s. In addition, from 2000 to 2014, master’s and doctorate degrees in statistics also grew significantly at 260% and 132%, respectively.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for statisticians will increase 27% between 2012 and 2022, outpacing the projected 11% rate for all other occupations. The number of graduates in statistics each year—approximately 2,000 bachelor’s degrees, 3,000 master’s degrees and 575 doctorate degrees—seems unlikely to match this demand,” says

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