Top 5 Paying Data Science and Machine Learning Jobs in the US


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A recent survey by Kaggle revealed that the annual median compensation (salary + bonus) of data professionals in the US was $118K. US data professionals who self-identified as machine learning engineers, software developers and data scientists had the highest annual compensation at $128K, $120K and $120K, respectively. Data professionals who self-identified as data scientists reported the greatest increase in their annual compensation, with about half saying they saw a 20%+ increase in the annual salary / compensation over the past three years. 

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 of their members have analyzed the data (see link above). DataToday’s post is about the data science and machine learning tools and technologies data professionals used in 2017 and the tool and technologies that excite them in 2018.

Annual Salaries for Data Professionals in the US

Survey respondents were asked,”What is your current total yearly compensation (salary + bonus)?” The results of that question appear in Figure 1. The average median compensation for US data professionals was $118K in mid 2017. While that figure is high, results showed that compensation varied by job title.

Figure 1. Annual Compensation for Data Professionals in the US

Specifically, annual compensation ranged from a low of $80K to a high of almost $128K. The top 5 paying data professional jobs in the US are:

  1. Machine Learning Engineer ($127.5K)
  2. Software Developer / Software Engineer ($120K)
  3. Data Scientist ($120K)
  4. Predictive Modeler ($115K)
  5. Database Engineer ($100K)

Changes in Compensation in the Past 3 Years

Respondents were also asked, “How has your salary / compensation changed in the past 3 years?” On the whole, salaries and compensation increased over the past three years for data professionals. While about 24% of the respondents said their compensation had not changed more than 5% over the previous three years, nearly 37% of the respondents indicated their salary / compensation has increased 20% or more and 28% of the respondents indicated their salary / compensation has increased between 6% and 19%. Only 3% of respondents indicated their compensation decreased over the past three years. Nine percent said they were not employed three years ago.

Figure 2. Changes in Salary / Compensation Varied over Job Titles.

Changes in salary/compensation varied over job title (see Figure 2). The top 5 data professional jobs with the greatest increase in salary / compensation (20% or more) over the past three years included:

  1. Data Scientists (48%)
  2. Machine Learning Engineers (39%)
  3. Predictive Modelers (34%)
  4. Data Analysts (33%)
  5. Business Analysts (32%)


The current analysis found that many US data professionals receive an annual salary / compensation of over $100K. While machine learning engineers reported the highest annual salary among data professionals ($128k), data scientists reported the biggest increase in their annual salary / compensation over the previous three years (about half reported a 20%+ increase in their compensation over the past three years).

It is estimated that business adoption of Big Data analytics reached 53% in 2017, up 17% since 2015. Forrester found an increase in the adoption of AI in organizations from 2016 to 2017, estimating that 51% of organizations implemented, have implemented or were expanding their use of AI in 2017. It appears the growth of Big Data adoption is matched by the growth in the salaries of data professionals. If you’re an aspiring data professional, it appears you have a variety of options to enter this lucrative field. Whether you’re a modeler, statistician, engineer, programmer or scientist, there is a role for you to play in this Big Data world.


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