Machine Learning Engineers and Data Scientists Report Highest Job Satisfaction Among Data Professionals


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Results from the Kaggle State of Data Science and Machine Learning survey of data professionals revealed that job satisfaction varies widely across job titles. Data professionals who reported the highest level of job satisfaction were: 1) Machine Learning Engineers, 2) Data Scientists and 3) Predictive Modeler. Data professionals who reported the lowest level of job satisfaction were: 1) Engineers, 2) DBA/Database Engineers and 3) Programmers.

Kaggle conducted a survey in August 2017 of over 16,000 data professionals (2017 State of Data Science and Machine Learning). Their survey included a variety of questions about data science, machine learning, education and more. Kaggle released the raw survey data and many in the data science community have analyzed the data (see link above). I will be exploring their survey data over the next couple of months. When I find something interesting, I’ll be sure to post it here on my blog. Today’s post explores the difference among data professionals on their level of job satisfaction.

The Value of Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is useful metric to study in business, often used to monitor and manage employee relationships. There is much evidence supporting the utility of using job satisfaction as a way to manage your business. For example, employees who are satisfied with their job also perform better on the job and will likely stay on the job (lower turnover) compared to employees who are dissatisfied with their job. Additionally, satisfied employees deliver a better experience to their customers compared to dissatisfied employees, ultimately improving other organizational outcomes like productivity and profit.

The Kaggle survey asked respondents to indicate their job title from a list of 15 different job titles, including Data Scientist, Computer Scientist, Machine Learning Engineer and Programmer. The survey also asked respondents (who were employed) their level of job satisfaction (“On a scale from 1 (Highly Dissatisfied) – 10 (Highly Satisfied), how satisfied are you with your current job?”

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Job Satisfaction Varies by Data Science Job Title

Figure 1. Job Satisfaction Varies by Job Titles for Data Professionals

Results showed that data professionals are satisfied with their current job (Mean = 6.8). I found that 75% of the respondents indicated they were satisfied (ratings between 6 and 10 inclusive). Nearly 1 out of 5 (19.4%) data professionals indicated that they were very satisfied (ratings of 9 or 10) with their job. A quarter of the data professionals said they were dissatisfied with their current job.

Results showed that job satisfaction varies significantly across job titles. Data professionals who self-identified as Machine Learning Engineers, Data Scientists and Predictive Modelers reported the highest level of job satisfaction (~83% are satisfied). Programmers, Database engineers and Engineers reported the lowest level of satisfaction (~59% are satisfied).

This study findings suggest that some data roles might are prone to low levels of job satisfaction; these job roles appear to represent jobs that emphasize technology/programming skills (e.g., programmers, database engineer, engineer, software developer). On the other hand, jobs with high levels of satisfaction appear to emphasize math/statistics skills (e.g., machine learning engineer, data scientist, predictive modeler, scientist/research). Perhaps differences in job activities are responsible for differences in job satisfaction. I will take a look at this hypothesis, along with others, next week.


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