According to the Technology Works report produced by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and commissioned by Engine Advocacy, the greater Seattle area had the highest concentration of high tech jobs in the nation. In fact, as of 2011 tech accounted for more than 11% of all jobs in the entire state of Washington.
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Nerdwallet ranked the Seattle area as the 3rd best metropolitan area in the country to find high tech jobs in 2015. In the Seattle, Bellevue, Everett area along the I-5/I-405 corridor, 77 out of every 1000 jobs were in the high tech industry. Both Amazon and Microsoft are anchored in the Seattle metropolitan area, while Facebook, Google, and Twitter also operate there.
It should come as no surprise then that data scientists in the Seattle area earned substantially higher starting salaries than their colleagues in other major cities in Washington according to Robert Half Technology’s 2016 report. This tech staffing firm places thousands of jobseekers each year throughout the US, collecting data on starting salary offers. The figures the firm produces are still likely to underestimate actual earnings since they don’t take bonuses or relocation assistance into account.
According to the Atlas Van Lines 45th Corporate Relocation Survey published in 2011, 87% of firms in the Seattle area that employ data scientists had a formal relocation policy and 65% offered full reimbursement to relocated employees. In an environment where employers compete for the most talented data scientists, this figure is likely to have grown even higher in the years since the survey was published.
Starting Salary Ranges for Data Scientists in Washington’s Biggest Cities
Data scientists working in the areas of operations research, statistical modeling and health information were in demand in all of Washington’s counties according to the Washington State Employment Security Department’s 2015 report.
Despite the fact that Washington State as a whole had the 4th highest concentration of statistical modeling specialists in the country and the Seattle area had the 8th highest concentration of data scientists working in operations research (2014, US Bureau of Labor Statistics), the demand is still outstripping the supply of qualified candidates. This has created a competitive environment where employers have been increasing starting salaries offered to master’s-prepared data scientists in an effort to retain top talent from the limited pool of candidates.
Robert Half draws from US Bureau of Labor Statistics research to account for geographic variation in Washington and provides up-to-date reliable starting salary ranges for data scientists in different parts of the state:
- Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma: $130,000 – $183,000
- Silverdale: $98,000 – $138,000
- Vancouver: $111,000 – $157,000
- Longview: $96,000 – $135,000
- Pasco: $99,000 – $140,000
- Kennewick: $99,000 – $140,000
- Spokane: $89,000 – $126,000
Salaries for Washington’s Data Scientists by Industry and Professional Area of Focus
Reports from the Washington State Employment Security Department (2015) and the US Department of Labor (2014) revealed the salaries for Washington’s data scientists working in a number of key industries and areas of specialty:
The Evolution of Data Science Brings Changes in Health Data Collection Policies in Washington
Washington’s data scientists in the healthcare sector made the news in 2011 when BloombergBusiness revealed that as many as 43% of all medical records in the state were subject to security vulnerabilities as a result of a little-known practice. Digital medical records from hospitals are often shared with state health agencies that then sell this information to private data mining companies that then clean, process and develop reports with the data, which are then resold to marketing companies. Public health agencies use the proceeds to help pay for public health studies.
Though an effort is made to strip out anything that could reveal the identity of patients, information that remains often includes zip codes, patient ages and treatment dates, which, in some cases, has been enough to identify individuals.
These vulnerabilities were discovered when Latanya Sweeney, the Director of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard University, bought medical data from Washington State in 2011 and cross-referenced it against news reports and other types of public records and was able to identify 35 individual patients. This experiment demonstrated how easy it is for insurers, lending institutions, employers and others to find information that, by law, should not be made accessible.
Publicity on the results of this data mining experiment led Washington to review and amend its data collection policies. Washington now requires its buyers of medical records to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Salaries for Data Scientists in Washington Working in Computer and Information Research Science in the Bremerton-Silverdale Area
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014 salary survey report for Washington’s data scientists working in the area of computer and information research science only included respondents that worked in the Bremerton-Silverdale area:
- Bremerton-Silverdale – $114,640
Salaries for Data Scientists Working in the Area of Operations Research in Washington’s Major Metropolitan Areas
Data scientists in Seattle working in the area of operations research earned a higher average salary than those in any of Washington’s other major metro areas (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):
- Kennewick-Pasco-Richland – $95,830
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division – $121,620
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue – $121,480
- Spokane – $102,620
- Tacoma WA Metropolitan Division – $118,000
Statistical Modeling Specialist Salaries in the Seattle Area
Western Washington’s data scientists working as statistical modeling specialists earned more than $121,000 as of 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division – $122,180
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue – $121,730
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.