This question is raised on occasion. Salaries are not increasing as fast as they used to, though this is natural for any discipline reaching some maturity. Some job seekers claim it is not that easy anymore to find a job as a data scientist. Some employers have complained about the costs associated with a data science team, and ROI expectations not being met. And some employees, especially those with a PhD, complained that the job can be boring.

I believe there is some truth to all of this, but my opinion is more nuanced. Data scientist is a too generic keyword, and many times not even related to science. I myself, about 20 years ago, experienced some disillusion about my job title as a statistician. There were so many promising paths, but the statistical community, in part because of the major statistical associations and academic training back then, missed some big opportunities, focusing more and more on narrow areas such as epidemiology or census data, but failing to catch on serious programming (besides SAS and R) and algorithms. I was back then working on digital image processing, and I saw the field of statistics missing the machine learning opportunity and operations research in particular. I eventually called myself a computational statistician: that’s what I was doing, and it was getting more and more different from what my peers were doing. I am sure by now, statistics curricula have caught up, and include more machine learning and programming.

More recently, I called myself data scientist, but today, I think it does not represent well what I do. Computational or algorithmic data scientist would be a much better description. And I think this applies to many data scientists. Some, focusing more on the data aspects, could call themselves data science engineers or data science architects. Some may find the word business data scientist more appropriate. Junior ones are probably better defined as analysts.

Some progress has been made in the last 5 years for sure. Applicants are better trained, hiring managers are more knowledgeable about the field and have more clear requirements, and applicants have a better idea as to whether an advertised position is as interesting as it sounds in the description. Indeed, many jobs are filled without even posting a job ad, by directly contacting potential candidates that the hiring manager is familiar with, even if by word-of-mouth only. While there is still no well-known, highly recognized professional…

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