Are Data Scientists Overpaid?

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    I found it interesting that “Data scientist, IT” made U.S. News & World Report’s list of the 10 most overpaid jobs.

    It bills these jobs asoccupations characterized by relatively high pay for relatively easy work,” further defining them as having median pay well above the norm, with low levels of stress, and filled by people who feel their job doesn’t necessarily make the world a better place. (There are mounds of jobs to which that last one applies.)

    It lists the median mid-career salary at $133,000, noting that these jobs generally require doctorates in math or similar fields. While they help corporations gain a marketing or competitive edge, the value of their work to the average person remains unclear.

    Consulting software engineer (median mid-career salary: $123,000) made the list as well.

    Analytics/BI managers earn a median $132,000, tied for fifth among the 23 job categories in InformationWeek’s 2013 salary survey. That’s 10 percent more than the typical IT manager makes.

    Writer Doug Henschen reports that the highest pay in analytics goes to “difference makers” who comb through data and make sense of it to meet a business need. That’s not to say they’re making a difference on the level of, say, those searching for a cure for cancer, but they very well could be applying that mathematical knowledge in a way that could help find a cure for cancer.

    Analytics pros – just like professional athletes – are paid what some organization is willing to pay them. Because that talent pool is so shallow and the demand for them ever rising, these folks can often write their own ticket.

    So is it any wonder that many organizations, rather than looking for all the needed data analytics skills in a single person, are focusing instead on drawing together a committee with the requisite skills?


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