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RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Survey Finds Nearly Two-Thirds of Data and AI Professionals Prioritize Job Training in Hopes of Salary Increase

O’Reilly’s 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey measures job satisfaction, salaries for technology workers.

Note: TDWI’s editors carefully choose vendor-issued press releases about new or upgraded products and services. We have edited and/or condensed this release to highlight key features but make no claims as to the accuracy of the vendor's statements.

O’Reilly, a source for insight-driven learning about technology and business, today announced the results of its 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey, which revealed that 64 percent of respondents took part in training or obtained new certifications in the past year to build upon their professional skills. The survey also found that 61 percent of respondents participated in training or earned certifications to solicit a salary increase or promotion. Despite this, the average change in compensation over the past three years was only $9,252—an increase of just 2.25 percent annually.

Overall, data and AI professionals have a clear desire to learn, with 91 percent of those surveyed reporting they are interested in learning new skills or improving existing skills. The survey revealed that for the one-third of professionals who dedicated more than 100 hours to training and development, it led to an average salary increase of $11,000. However, for those who participated in only 1 to 19 hours of training, there was only an average salary increase of $7,100.

“Data and AI professionals are among the most driven employees when it comes to upskilling,” said Laura Baldwin, president of O’Reilly. “Given the shortage of qualified employees in fields like data science, machine learning, and AI, companies that are serious about building out their workforces must invest in learning and training to grow this talent internally.”

The 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey, which polled 3,136 respondents, gathered salary findings based on gender, education level, job title, and which tools and platforms respondents work with daily. Of note, women’s salaries were significantly lower than men’s salaries, 84 percent of the average salary for men. This salary differential held regardless of education or job title. For example, at the executive level, the average salary for women was $163,000 versus $205,000 for men (a 20 percent difference).

Additional findings from the 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey include:

  • The average salary for AI and data professionals is $146,000.
  • The majority of salaries averaged between $100,000 and $150,000.
  • Average compensation is highest in California ($176,000), followed by New York and Massachusetts.
  • Respondents believe attaining new technical skills or certifications will help them achieve the following:
    • Increase in salary or job title/responsibilities (61 percent)
    • Increase in job security (56 percent)
    • Increase in hireability (73 percent)
  • Almost a quarter (22 percent) reported considering changing jobs due to the lack of salary increase over the past year.
  • Almost a fifth (18 percent) of respondents said their salaries have remained the same over the last three years.

The full report and survey results are available at https://www.oreilly.com/radar/2021-data-ai-salary-survey/.

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