• February, 22 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Senior News Editor, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmarCustomerService.com.

Data Scientist Is This Year's Hottest Job

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In 2012, The Harvard Business Review dubbed data scientist the "sexiest job of the 21st century." Now it would seem that Glassdoor, an Internet site that rates employers based on personnel reviews, shares that enthusiasm for the job title.

Glassdoor in mid-January released its 2016 "Best Jobs in America" list, and data scientist was in the top spot, based on the number of job openings, salary, and the career opportunities ratings that U.S. employees provided in the past year.

The job, which experts say employs techniques and theories drawn from many other fields, including mathematics, statistics, computer science, predictive analytics, marketing, data mining, and many others, is one of the fastest-growing career paths today. Data scientists, Glassdoor reported, are now being hired in all kinds of companies, in all industries, and in all cities across the United States. The field has just as much applicability in agriculture and public policy as it does in retail, marketing, fraud detection, risk management, and advertising,

Glassdoor listed 1,736 available data scientist positions just prior to releasing its ratings. The median salary for the position was listed at $116,840 per year. The overall job score, on a five-point scale, was 4.7.

Data scientist was ninth in Glassdoor's 2015 ratings, with an overall job score of 4.4. Last year, the average base salary was $104,476, and Glassdoor listed 3,449 job openings.

"It isn't a big surprise to see data scientist at number one this year because it's one of the hottest and fastest-growing jobs we're seeing right now," said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor's chief economist, in an email. "Since all companies have an online presence these days, they all need people who know how to manage and store data that helps them make better business decisions."

According to Chamberlain, this is a new development this year. A few years ago, "businesses didn't have data management at their fingertips" the way they do today. Companies also didn't have nearly as much data—both structured and unstructured—available to them, and so it's no wonder that they now find themselves in need of someone to interpret and use it all to help guide business decisions.

Based on current trends, Chamberlain expects data scientist "to continue to be a hot job for several years to come."

Shashi Upadhyay, CEO of Lattice Engines, a provider of business predictive analytics applications, also isn't surprised by the data science field's popularity. "Companies across verticals are recognizing the importance of acting on data-driven insights rather than relying on gut decisions, and as such, we are seeing a recruitment war in the data science field," he said in an email.

Data scientists, he added, are being heavily recruited right now, particularly as they play a more critical role in marketing, sales, and advertising decisions.

It also helps that the available talent pool is so limited, with the national tech unemployment rate currently at less than 3 percent.

"Companies are now more willing to invest in data scientists by providing competitive salaries and benefits," Upadhyay maintains, noting that "businesses that understand the value in transforming data into actionable insights will come out on top."

Data scientists, he adds, are "part analyst, part artist, responsible for sifting through large amounts of business data to spot trends and make informed conclusions that can then be used to shape critical business decisions."

A similar job title, analytics manager, also ranked high on Glassdoor's 2016 Best Jobs list. It came in at number 11, based on an overall job score of 4.5. Glassdoor identified 982 job openings for analytics managers, with an average salary of $105,000.

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