Salary Outlook for Master’s in Data Science Degree

Professionals with a high-level education in data science are among the most in-demand people across all sectors of the job market today, and this demand doesn’t seem to be cooling off anytime soon.

In fact, according to IBM, demand for data scientists will rise 28% through the end of this year, and these skilled individuals will be needed in all sectors of the economy, from finance to education and everything in between.

The increasing generation of massive sets of data means that those who can successfully harness data should have long and successful careers. Particularly for people with master’s degrees in data science, the outlook is very bright indeed.

What can these people expect to earn, and what does the job market hold for them?

Data Science Education

At the master’s level, a data science program is likely to allow students to focus on one or more areas of interest for them, whether finance, healthcare, information systems, sports or more. This specialization should make the degree highly unique, though some coursework is likely to be common among many different data science master’s programs.

Here’s a look at some possible classes students could encounter in a master’s in data science program:

  • Python for Data Science
  • Mathematical Modeling
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Data Science and Statistical Learning With R
  • Principles of Big Data Processing
  • Deep Learning
  • Data Analytics at Scale
  • Machine Learning for Data Scientists
  • Social Media Analytics
  • Data Mining
  • Bioinformatics
  • Financial and Risk Analytics
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Knowledge Engineering
  • Decision Analytics
  • Computer Vision

Master’s in Data Science Salary

A degree in data science is likely to have extremely broad applications across a range of job titles, industries and day-to-day tasks. For instance, some data scientists are called data analysts and they work within the business or finance departments of companies, helping track relevant company data. Others may become big data engineers, working hands-on to create, test and improve tools to harness massive sets of data.

For this reason, in our analysis of typical data science salaries, we’ve chosen a broad (and perhaps obvious) job title — data scientist. While this title is quite general, it also is among the most frequently sought in job boards and across the U.S. economy.

BLS

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government’s official source of employment and wage data does not yet distinguish data science jobs from computer and math jobs, though the job title of statistician is possibly the closest connection, particularly for those who have a master’s degree in data science. That’s because to earn that level of education in the field, one must complete a rigorous statistics education. According to the BLS, statisticians earn a median annual salary near six figures.

Average salary: $92,600

Indeed

Online job board Indeed listed more than 5,600 data scientist openings in early 2020 across the United States, and those with listed salary figures tend to be very well-paying, with about 20% offering wages that are upwards of $130,000. The average is a bit lower but still quite high.

Average salary: $110,000

Glassdoor

About 4,500 data scientist jobs were posted through Glassdoor in February 2020, and most offered salaries of at least $80,000, among those where salary data was included in the posting.

Average salary: $110,000

Payscale

According to Payscale, which aggregates salary and compensation data for thousands of jobs across the U.S. and the world, the average U.S. data scientist earns just shy of six figures, while higher levels of experience and education push wages much higher.

Average salary: $96,004

Ziprecruiter

Job placement and posting board Ziprecruiter reported more than 14,000 vacancies for data scientists in February 2020, and the site reported the average annual compensation for data scientists was in the six figures.

Average salary: $118,758

Job Demand for Master’s in Data Science

IBM’s prediction that jobs for data scientists will be high through this year seems to be on track with official federal government projections about demand for such professionals. In fact, statistician jobs are expected to continue growing, with 33.9% expansion projected through 2026, though the states have varying rates of expected growth.

Statistician job opening growth, 2016-26, highest and lowest

Highest Lowest
Utah 87.5% Alaska
Rhode Island 66.7% Maryland 2.6%
Nevada 55.6% Arkansas 24.0%
Florida 52.3% Kansas 25.0%
Arizona 50.5% New Mexico 25.0%
South Dakota 50.0% Oklahoma 25.0%
Kentucky 44.4% Vermont 25.0%
Virginia 44.1% West Virginia 25.0%
Colorado 44.0% Alabama 28.6%
Texas 43.8% Montana 28.6%

All but one state (Alaska) is expected to see demand rise for data scientists, and the vast majority should see job growth of at least 20%. Two states, Utah and Rhode Island, will see meteoric growth in demand for data scientists, with jobs expanding by 87.5% and 66.7%, respectively.

Conclusion

While most people who earn master’s degrees soon see their earnings potential surge (master’s degree-holders earn nearly 20% more than those with a bachelor’s alone), for people with the aptitude and interest in earning a master’s degree in data science, technological advancements and market conditions may help provide the perfect storm. This could mean now is the ideal time to earn a master’s degree in data science, considering high average salaries and huge job growth for years to come.

Additional Resources