How COVID-19 Impacted Data Science Salaries

25th November 2021 I E-Commerce

The coronavirus pandemic affected every industry in the world. Some industries, like travel and tourism, were disrupted completely for months when governments imposed lockdowns. Others were better off; one example is the tech industry. However, they still needed time to get used to the system with offices being shut. But, how have these changes affected wages?

Changes in Salaries Around the World

Counterintuitively, salaries have actually increased in many countries, including Canada, United States, Italy, and the UK, according to figures from the International Labour Organization (ILO). In the US, for example, average earnings grew in 2020. However, the ILO points out that this was due to the loss of lower-paying jobs. Many low-paid workers lost their jobs, so the average wage now reflects more salaries from high earners who managed to remain employed.

On the other hand, average salaries in many other countries either plateaued or decreased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries in Europe, as well as in South Africa and Japan, have experienced a sharp decline in median wages.

Interestingly, in many countries where wages remained stagnant or fell, unemployment did not increase much, possibly due to wage subsidies and other measures. Average wages remained flat or declined because working time was reduced or because employers decided to freeze salaries.

The Data Science Field: A Case Study

The tech industry in North America presents an interesting case study to examine salary fluctuations. Some tech companies decided to try remote work by the second quarter. The results were astounding and some top tech companies decided to extend this work method and let it continue post-Covid. Their workers no longer have to go to work in a physical office. Even though the decision came with a 10% salary decrease, the circumstances are still favorable.

Data scientists are important members of the tech community. Data science salaries have seen a cumulative growth of 12% in the past five years. A Glassdoor job market report showed that there were months of significant decrease and increase in salaries. Some key metrics that determined this included cumulative growth, median base pay, and year-over-year growth. Similar careers like web development and software engineers have also seen steady inclines in the same period.

In June 2015, the cumulative growth increased to 6.2% and the median base salary was $95,798. This growth spike was caused by the rising need for data scientists. More companies wanted to hire data scientists and this made the profession more competitive. In the fall of 2016, there was a drop in salary to $88,649. The cumulative growth was -1.7% and the year-over-year growth was -7.5%. Fast forward to June 2020, the salaries of data scientists rose again. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry saw a boom since work continued remotely. There was a reduction in customer-facing roles and all communications were done over video conferencing platforms.

The median base salary for data scientists in June 2020 was $99,674. This means it saw a cumulative growth of approximately 10.5% while its year-over-year growth was 5.5%. This is excellent news for data scientists. Even though unemployment levels dropped in many industries, data scientists are still in high demand. The world needs data now more than ever. There is also a need for people who can study this data and make sense of it. Data scientists collect large amounts of data and transform it into a usable format. They are also skilled in using programming languages such as Python, SAS, and R. Also, they have a solid grasp of subjects like statistics and help businesses to spot trends that can help.

Will Data Science Salaries Continue to Grow Despite the Global Economic Challenges?

Right now, it is tricky to predict the evolution of data science salaries. Steady companies were volatile at some point, so anything can change in the future. One thing is certain though, the tech industry has enjoyed a good run this year and there is evidence that suggests that it will continue in the future. As the world becomes more digitized—from education, to travel, and more—tech salaries will continue to rise. This will likely rub off on data science as it is an essential part of technology.


The full extent to which COVID-19 has impacted average wages will only become clear with time as national statistical offices publish their new statistical estimates.

Even though remote work was the order of the day during the peak of the pandemic, data scientists were still considered top earners. They saw a growth of 10.5% within a five-year period. It is impressive for a career that didn't exist a few years ago.

Now, it is a crucial position in many tech companies. Even other industries require data scientists to make sense of their data and help them make better decisions in business. This makes data science a viable career for the future where data will be even more important than it is now. More people are considering a career in data science and bootcamprankings has some tips to help.

About the author

@ Artur Meyster | CTO, Career Karma (lingoking Affiliate)

Career Karma is the easiest way to find a job training program online. We help over 1 million workers navigate their careers every month through advice and coaching. By offering free coaching and peer mentorship, Career Karma has grown to over 150,000 members from every background and profession. Through our directory of 9,000 bootcamps and trade schools, career switchers discover training programs by comparing courses and reading student reviews. The Career Karma mobile app makes your decision even easier. In the app, you can connect with current students and alumni to find your ideal program and get prepared for admission.


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