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A snapshot of data scientist jobs around the world

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

If you have a PhD in computer science or statistics, you’re in luck. Data science is one of the most in-demand skills in the workplace, and one of the best-paid, depending on where you live. 

IBM estimates that demand for Data Scientists and Analysts will leap by 28% by 2020, so big data experts can depend on having job security. However, not all data scientists are valued in the same way. Compensation and demand for data science varies widely across the world, even between the most prominent cities like London, New York, San Francisco, and Paris. Being a data scientist in Silicon Valley is very different than being a data scientist in Nairobi or São Paulo. 

Here’s a snapshot of the demand for data scientists in ten different countries worldwide. 

A Look at Data Scientists in the Americas


As a world leader in tech, it might come as no surprise that the US leads demand for data scientists. Data scientists in the US make an average of US$120K, or more, and have significant freedom over their choice of field. In the US, the demand for data scientists comes primarily from the financial services, professional services, and IT industries, which make up 59% of total demand. Data science jobs in the US are expected to exceed two million openings by 2020, which explains why data scientists in the US are the best-compensated in the world. 


Despite a fast-growing tech economy, Mexico’s demand for data science lags behind. Mexico graduates more engineers yearly than the US, but few students are entering the higher education programs that lead to a data science career. The Math, Physics, and Accounting departments at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, one of Mexico’s best universities, receive 4-5x fewer applicants than Business or Psychology. Most of the best talent is snatched up quickly by big companies, or even by Silicon Valley tech firms. Entry-level salaries for a data scientist in Mexico hover around US$18K, which is still a considerable sum considering Mexico’s cost of living. 


While data science in Brazil is still in its beginning stages of development, the field is on the rise. According to a Kaggle study, Brazil is tied with Australia for the third-fastest growing market for data scientists. 74% of Brazilian data scientists reported that their compensation grew by 6% or more over the past three years. Interestingly, data science positions in Brazil appear to be less demanding about academic requirements; most Brazilian data scientists have just a bachelor’s degree, while the average data scientist worldwide is educated to the Masters level. The average Brazilian data scientist makes around US$35K per year.

A Look at Data Scientists in Europe


While London has become one of the world’s most active tech hubs, data scientist salaries in the UK have not caught up with this growth. British data scientists make just over half of what a data scientist in the US makes: only US$66K per year. While that salary might seem reasonable for a Master’s level position, over 30% of UK data scientists have a doctoral degree and, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. 


Much like in the UK, data science salaries in Spain seem low compared to the US or Canada (US$81K). The average data scientist in Spain makes US$48K per year, with over 50% of Spanish data scientists earning Master’s degrees before starting a career in the field of big data. Data science is well-represented in Spanish universities, with over ten different Master’s programs available across the country, depending on one’s interests.  

A Look at Data Scientists in Asia


China has appeared as a global tech giant within the past decade primarily due to substantial government investment in new technology. Since 2012, the Chinese government and its big three internet companies, Baidu, Alibaba, and WeChat, have looked into the possibilities regarding the massive amounts of customer data they gather every day. The government is also applying Big Data in banking, retail, and energy consumption. The Chinese data talent shortage will reach an estimated 1.5M vacant positions by 2020. The average Chinese data scientist makes US$41K and holds a Master’s degree. 


While data scientists in India make an average of just US$14K per year, they are among the highest paid in the world measured in purchasing power parity. This fact is especially remarkable given that more than 50% of Indian data scientists have just a Bachelor’s degree. Data science is growing fast in India, with over 68% of professionals noting an increase in compensation over the past three years. 

A Look at Data Scientists in Oceania


After the US, Australia is home to the highest-paid data scientists in the world. The average Australian data scientist makes US$111K a year and holds a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Salaries for data scientists in Australia are also growing steadily, as 74% of professionals noted a more than 6% increase in compensation over the past three years. 

A Look at Data Scientists in Africa


Nairobi is often considered to be Africa’s Silicon Valley, and it is one of the main places on the continent where data science is growing. However, data scientists in Kenya tend to be much less qualified than their counterparts in the Americas, Asia, or Europe. Just 1.8% of data scientists in Kenya have a doctoral degree, with over 70% reaching the Bachelor’s level. Although many Kenyan universities offer statistics and math programs, to date, there are no specific data science courses available in the country. The average data scientist in Kenya makes around US$16K in yearly salary.

The Global Outlook for Data Scientists

Data science may be the ‘sexiest career of the 21st century,’ but it is still a strikingly tricky career path to define. Data scientists are finding positions in corporations, small businesses, government, and startups, meaning compensations vary widely across jobs and regions. While data science is still a growing field worldwide, demand for big data depends heavily on where you live.  

Vivian Zhang, Founder and CTO of the NYC Data Science Academy 

Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay

Vivian Zhang
Vivian Zhang is the founder and CTO of the NYC Data Science Academy and also adjunct professor at Stony Brook University.