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How Many Data Scientists are out there?

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Editor’s note: This post by Gregory Piatetsky first appeared at KDnuggets.comIt it he dives into a key question regarding the possible shortage of data scientists. -bg

Many people have read the McKinsey report on Big Data (May 2011) which predicted 

The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data.


However, it seems that so far the shortage is much less. 

The job title “Data Scientist” has grown tremendously in popularity, according to job siteindeed.com 

Job trend<br /><br /><br />
      for Data Scientist positions, 2006-2014 

However, notice that the demand stopped increasing sometime in 2013. 

As of March 13, 2014, Search for “Data Scientist” jobs (US-based) on indeed.com gives only 1,000 positions. We find about 10,000 jobs when searching for Data Scientist - without quotes, but many of these jobs have title “Scientist” or something to do with data, and not necessarily represent “Data Scientist” positions. 

Of course, many people may do similar work without having the title of “data scientist”. 

Several estimates may be relevant. 

Kaggle is the leading platform for data science competitions and claims to be world’s largest community of data scientists. Kaggle reached 100,000 in July 2013, reported110,000 in Sep 2013, 120,000 members on Oct 23, 2013, reported to have 140,000 on Feb 24, 2014. 
Latest numbers, from Kaggle CEO Anthony Goldbloom are: 157,142 Kaggle members, of whom 67,776 active in the last 6 months. 

A quick examination of the top 10 ranked Kagglers shows that only one has a title of “Data Scientist”. Top 10 include neuroscience researchers, PhD mathematicians and physicists, and while they are clearly talented competitors on Kaggle, their actual job may not involve data science. 

LinkedIn has many groups related to data science, Big Data and Analytics – see my analysis Top 2013 LinkedIn Groups for Analytics, Big Data, Data Mining, and Data Science

The two largest of these groups are:


Most members of these groups do not have the job title “Data scientists”. There is a “Data Scientists” LinkedIn group, but it has at present only 6,750 members. 

LinkedIn Data Scientist Peter Skomoroch, @PeteSkomoroch wrote 

Using the public LinkedIn search interface, with the job title in quotes – I see 12,170 members with the phrase “data scientist” anywhere their profile. Using the advanced search facet to look only at profiles with a current or past title containing the phrase “data scientist”, I see 6,896 results. Doing a plain keyword search will return many members that mention the words “data” or “scientist” anywhere in their profile, but the majority of those people have nothing to do with data science.


He further estimated that perhaps 150-250K people would be a match for a data scientist based on their skills and education. 

I remain optimistic that data scientist is a great profession, but I doubt that there is a demand for 100,000 new data scientist positions. There may be a re-branding of existing positions, or creation of teams which collectively do the data science job.

 

Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, Ph.D., is a well-known expert in Business Analytics, Data Mining, and Data Science. Gregory is the Editor and Publisher of KDnuggets.com, a Business Analytics “Guru” on Twitter, and a Top Influencer in Big Data, Data Mining, and Data Science. Gregory is a co-founder of KDD (Knowledge Discovery and Data mining conferences) and SIGKDD, professional organization for Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. Gregory has over 60 publications and edited several books and collections on data mining and knowledge discovery.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.