Data scientists frequently engage in predictive modeling to understand complex problems, and in Alaska this has meant looking to identify solutions to environmental concerns related to oil and gas extraction. Alaska’s unique geography and history have led to some vexing environmental problems. One major problem that Alaska faces is residual oil from the Exxon Valdez spill. Data scientists in the state used predictive modeling in their 2015 paper, Environmental Science and Technology, to estimate the amount of subsurface shore oil that remained in Prince Williams Sound following the spill. The authors expect that this research will be vital to guiding continuing remediation efforts.
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Data science has also been key to understanding the impact of climate change, particularly as it relates to emergency preparedness in coastal areas. Rapid coastal erosion in the Arctic is a potentially serious problem for Alaska that is expected to get substantially worse as a result of climate change. In 2013, arctic research consortium; Anderson, Overeem, and Wobus, received a grant to study the Beaufort Sea coast to begin to develop predictive models of future coastal erosion that could result from climate change. This years-long research program is expected to give local leaders a better understanding of how best to mitigate the situation and what efforts must be taken to keep citizens and infrastructure safe in the coming decades.
Data Scientist Starting Salary Ranges in Alaska’s Biggest Cities
Due to Alaska’s vast size, technology is critical to virtually all facets of life in the state. The field is experiencing massive growth according to Alaska.net, and the opportunities available in Alaska along with its high quality of life are attracting an increasing number of high-tech firms.
This is particularly true for Anchorage. For instance, the headquarters of Axiom Data Science are located in the city. This company specializes in climate modeling and ecological analysis and contracts its services to a number of high-tech agencies such as NASA and NOAA in addition to companies like Shell.
According to Robert Half Technology, data scientists in Anchorage earned salaries higher than what their peers in Alaska’s other major cities earned as of 2016. In fact, the starting salaries for data scientists in Anchorage were higher than the national average for these professionals.
Salary data from Robert Half is particularly valuable, because this tech staffing firm places thousands of jobseekers each year, and as a result, has information on the starting salaries of the many data scientists that the firm has placed throughout the country.
These values represent the actual salaries and do not include relocation assistance or bonuses. According to executive recruiting firm Burtch Works, 71% of data scientists surveyed in 2014 said they were eligible for bonuses, while 91% of data science managers received them.
In its analysis of starting salaries, Robert Half draws from research from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to account for geographical variations in Alaska. Shown below is a complete and up-to-date picture of the starting salaries that data scientists in Alaska can expect:
- Anchorage: $114,000 – $160,000
- Fairbanks: $108,000 – $152,000
- Barrow: $108,000 – $152,000
A Look at Data Science Salaries in Alaska by Area of Specialization
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development provides salaries for data scientists working in two key roles as of 2014:
Computer and Information Research Science – $109,470
Operations Research – $142,605
A January 2016 job vacancy announcement for a statistical modeling position with the Department of the Interior office in Homer offered a starting salary of $101,043 a year for experienced candidates.
The mean salary for data scientists working in Alaska’s financial services sector was $102,690 in 2014 according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
A Look at Salaries for Data Scientists Working in the Area of Operations Research in Anchorage and Fairbanks
Salary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the salary for data scientists working in operations research differed by more than 75% between Anchorage and Fairbanks as of 2014:
- Anchorage – $174,500
- Fairbanks – $80,680
Salaries for Data Scientists Working in the Area of Computer and Information Research Science in Anchorage
The salary for computer and information research scientists in Anchorage was virtually identical to the statewide average earnings for data scientists in this role (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):
- Anchorage – $102,910
The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics information shown here reflects salary data for broad occupational classifications that include data scientists. These estimates are expressed as the 90th percentile average to reflect the fact that data scientists are recognized as the top earners within each classification.