data science

Evaluating the U.S. Labor Market for Data Scientists

Data scientists have quickly become one of the most in-demand jobs in the United States. These experts have a unique ability to gather disorderly data, analyze it, and transform it into a clearer and more comprehensible format. But as thousands of employers are currently competing for candidates with this niche skillset, a massive talent struggle has ensued.

Digital Transformation Spurs Need for Data Scientists

To make sense of the U.S. labor market for data scientists, here are some of our Acara team’s latest findings:

Struggle in filling positions

Ready for some alarming statistics that demonstrate the difficulty of filling data scientist positions over the past year? Take a look at these facts:

  • Over the past 12 months, the ratio of estimated hires to postings for data scientists is 1 to 21. That means for every 21 positions that are posted, only ONE is filled!
  • Since June 2020, there has been an average of 22,962 data scientist-related roles posted per month—but only 1,103 have been filled.
  • There are over 8,000 employers that have posted jobs for data scientists within the past year—further demonstrating the rising demand for this particular role.

As capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI) become more widely utilized in business, it makes sense why data scientists are in such high demand. Companies from healthcare to transportation are looking to these candidates to generate impact within their organizations. While the war on talent has shown little sign of slowing down in the U.S., employers will continue to face recruiting challenges when hiring for these employees.

Skills in demand

There’s a reason why Glassdoor ranked data science as the #2 job in America for 2021. But there’s also a reason why so many job openings remained unfilled: the current skill gap is currently holding candidates back from securing jobs in the data science field. Here are some of the top hard skills that companies are seeking in their data scientists that most candidates are lacking:

  • Computer Science
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Algorithms
  • Statistics
  • Machine Learning

And here are some of the top common skills that data scientist candidates are lacking:

  • Written communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Presentations
  • Operations
  • Innovation

Top employers

Since January 2017, the demand for data scientists has risen nearly fivefold in the United States. Several big-name tech companies are currently the top employers of data scientists across America. These include:

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle

It should also be noted that most data scientist positions are found in the federal government sector. Approximately 32.9% of all data scientists worked in this industry in 2020—followed closely by scientific research and development services (17.2%) and computer systems design (16.3%).

Average compensation and work location

According to estimates by Markets and Markets, the size of the data science industry is expected to grow by 30% to $140.9 billion by 2024. This bodes well for workers within this sector. In 2020, the median wage for data scientists was $137,568 on a national scale—a number that is only expected to grow due to a tight labor market. Here are the top states that employed data scientists in 2020:

  • California
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Washington
  • Texas

Although remote work is expected to remain a prevalent workforce strategy in the years ahead, many of the biggest data science hubs will continue to be based in major cities across the United States.


Some experts have dubbed data science as “the new coding”—highlighting what could be an incredibly promising future for this career path. As this field continues to expand and evolve, an abundance of opportunities will be made available to qualified candidates that possess the necessary quantitative skills. By leveraging our data scientist findings, your organization can more effectively attract and recruit first-rate talent to your team.

Is your company faced with labor shortages and workforce turnover? Discover the reasons why your employees are resigning from their positions—and what you can do to overcome it.

For more information on enhancing your recruiting approach, improving your hiring strategies, and embellishing your employer branding, our Acara blog has you covered.

In this article, our team at Acara leveraged Emsi—a premier provider of employment data, workforce analysis, and compensation trends—to study the current state of the data scientist job market. Emsi is enriched with information from online social profiles, resumes, and job postings to provide users with a comprehensive view of the workforce.

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