Data Scientist — Income and Opportunity

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Before we learn about the money, let’s get this question out of the way:

What Does a Data Scientist Do?

Data scientists use data to find quantifiable answers to questions that often need to be found as well!

For example, they not only find the answer to the question “How can company ABC make more money?” Instead, they may find that a better question to ask would be: “Who are the top 20% of the clients that bring 80% of the revenue, and what do they want in the first place?”

Data Science In 5 Minutes | Data Science For Beginners | What Is Data Science? | Simplilearn

Top 15 Skills of a Data Scientist

Data scientists often have a broad mix of skills such as:

  1. Business acumen
  2. Statistics & math
  3. Computer science
  4. Programming and scripting
  5. Data visualization
  6. Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  7. Cloud Computing
  8. Databases and SQL
  9. Deep learning
  10. Storytelling
  11. Structured and logical thinking
  12. Curiosity and a willingness to learn
  13. Dashboard creation
  14. Communication and presentation
  15. Big data frameworks and distributed systems
  16. Graph theory

And a good deal of common sense and intuitive understanding of where real-world value can be found. This requires a lot of experience—but you can get started quickly and gain the experience over time in practice.

Now that you know what a data scientist is and what skills you need, let’s have a look at what you can earn as a data scientist next!

Annual Income

How much does a Data Scientist make per year?

Average Income of a Data Scientist in the US by Source
Figure: Average Income of a Data Scientist in the US by Source. [1]

The average annual income of a Data Scientist in the United States is between $97,294 and $135,924 with an average of $116,505 and a median of $119,413 per year.

This data is based on our meta-study of nine (9) salary aggregators sources such as Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and PayScale.

SourceAverage Income$117,212$119,413$123,318$98,230$132,020$135,924$97,294$100,560$124,575

Table: Average Income of a Data Scientist in the US by Source.

Let’s have a look at the hourly rate of Data Scientists next!

How Much Can You Earn as a Data Science Freelancer? (It's Between $0 and $400,000 per Year)

Hourly Rate

Data Scientists are well-paid on freelancing platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr.

If you decide to go the route as a freelance Data Scientist, you can expect to make between $35 and $70 per hour on Upwork (source). Assuming an annual workload of 2000 hours, you can expect to make between $70,000 and $140,000 per year.

Note: Do you want to create your own thriving coding business online? Feel free to check out our freelance developer course — the world’s #1 best-selling freelance developer course that specifically shows you how to succeed on Upwork and Fiverr!

Industry Demand

But is there enough demand? Let’s have a look at Google trends to find out how interest evolves over time (source):

Clearly this is a long-term trend you can build your whole career on!

The demand to hire data scientists is proliferating in recent years, especially with the emergence of new proliferating fields such as Blockchain Analytics which combines the skills of data science with other skillsets such as Blockchain development.

Learning Path, Skills, and Education Requirements

Do you want to become a Data Scientist? Here’s a step-by-step learning path I’d propose to get started with Data :

You can find many additional computer science courses on the Finxter Computer Science Academy (flatrate model).

But don’t wait too long to acquire practical experience!

Even if you have few skills, it’s best to get started as a freelance developer and learn as you work on real projects for clients — earning income as you learn and gaining motivation through real-world feedback.

🚀 Tip: An excellent start to turbo-charge your freelancing career (earning more in less time) is our Finxter Freelancer Course. The goal of the course is to pay for itself!

Simple Data Science Freelancer on Upwork ($60/h)

You can find more job descriptions for coders, programmers, and computer scientists in our detailed overview guide:

The following statistic shows the self-reported income from 9,649 US-based professional developers (source).

💡 The average annual income of professional developers in the US is between $70,000 and $177,500 for various programming languages.

Question: What is your current total compensation (salary, bonuses, and perks, before taxes and deductions)? Please enter a whole number in the box below, without any punctuation. If you are paid hourly, please estimate an equivalent weekly, monthly, or yearly salary. (source)

The following statistic compares the self-reported income from 46,693 professional programmers as conducted by StackOverflow.

💡 The average annual income of professional developers worldwide (US and non-US) is between $33,000 and $95,000 for various programming languages.

Here’s a screenshot of a more detailed overview of each programming language considered in the report:

Here’s what different database professionals earn:

Here’s an overview of different cloud solutions experts:

Here’s what professionals in web frameworks earn:

There are many other interesting frameworks—that pay well!

Look at those tools:

Okay, but what do you need to do to get there? What are the skill requirements and qualifications to make you become a professional developer in the area you desire?

Let’s find out next!

General Qualifications of Professionals

StackOverflow performs an annual survey asking professionals, coders, developers, researchers, and engineers various questions about their background and job satisfaction on their website.

Interestingly, when aggregating the data of the developers’ educational background, a good three quarters have an academic background.

Here’s the question asked by StackOverflow (source):

Which of the following best describes the highest level of formal education that you’ve completed?

However, if you don’t have a formal degree, don’t fear! Many of the respondents with degrees don’t have a degree in their field—so it may not be of much value for their coding careers anyways.

Also, about one out of four don’t have a formal degree and still succeeds in their field! You certainly don’t need a degree if you’re committed to your own success!

Freelancing vs Employment Status

The percentage of freelance developers increases steadily. The fraction of freelance developers has already reached 11.21%!

This indicates that more and more work will be done in a more flexible work environment—and fewer and fewer companies and clients want to hire inflexible talent.

Here are the stats from the StackOverflow developer survey (source):

Do you want to become a professional freelance developer and earn some money on the side or as your primary source of income?

Resource: Check out our freelance developer course—it’s the best freelance developer course in the world with the highest student success rate in the industry!

Other Programming Languages Used by Professional Developers

The StackOverflow developer survey collected 58000 responses about the following question (source):

Which programming, scripting, and markup languages have you done extensive development work in over the past year, and which do you want to work in over the next year?

These are the languages you want to focus on when starting out as a coder:

And don’t worry—if you feel stuck or struggle with a nasty bug. We all go through it. Here’s what SO survey respondents and professional developers do when they’re stuck:

What do you do when you get stuck on a problem? Select all that apply. (source)

To get started with some of the fundamentals and industry concepts, feel free to check out these articles:

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory. Let’s get some practice!

Coders get paid six figures and more because they can solve problems more effectively using machine intelligence and automation.

To become more successful in coding, solve more real problems for real people. That’s how you polish the skills you really need in practice. After all, what’s the use of learning theory that nobody ever needs?

You build high-value coding skills by working on practical coding projects!

Do you want to stop learning with toy projects and focus on practical code projects that earn you money and solve real problems for people?

🚀 If your answer is YES!, consider becoming a Python freelance developer! It’s the best way of approaching the task of improving your Python skills—even if you are a complete beginner.

If you just want to learn about the freelancing opportunity, feel free to watch my free webinar “How to Build Your High-Income Skill Python” and learn how I grew my coding business online and how you can, too—from the comfort of your own home.

Join the free webinar now!


[1] Code to generate figure:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
import math

data = [117212,

labels = ['',

median = np.median(data)
average = np.average(data)
print(median, average)
n = len(data)

plt.plot(range(n), [median] * n, color='black', label='Median: $' + str(int(median)))
plt.plot(range(n), [average] * n, '--', color='red', label='Average: $' + str(int(average))), data)
plt.xticks(range(len(data)), labels, rotation='vertical', position = (0,0.45), color='white', weight='bold')
plt.ylabel('Average Income ($)')
plt.title('Data Scientist Annual Income - by Finxter')