A Summary of Harnham’s 2023 US Salary Guide
Harnham’s 2023 US Salary Guide provides an in-depth overview of the US data job market. In the guide, we explore everything from average salaries to what candidates are valuing the most and the benefits they are looking for.
The report paints a picture of resilience following a turbulent year in 2022, with salaries coming back down to earth after reaching unsustainable highs. But what else did the research tell us?
Salaries fall whilst bonuses rise
The rise in bonuses certainly captured our attention. In 2022, the height of salaries was not maintainable for any business. As predicted, these have come down, but bonuses have significantly risen. The statistics show that 22 per cent of candidates received a larger bonus in 2023 than the previous year and there are greater rises in many specialisms including data science, digital analytics and computer vision.
The uptick in bonuses follows a trend of widespread layoffs over the last 12 months which ended the narrative of enticing talent with high salaries. The trend of bonuses shows that the market is performing well but companies are wary of making big commitments.
It looks like an element of flexibility remains and when figures begin to look a little less rosy, employers have the power to reduce bonuses without having to make redundancies.
The trend shows that employers are listening to their talent, as 35 per cent say they would leave a role if the salary was not competitive, so it seems the financial incentive is an effort to retain top employees for now. Whilst a hint of uncertainty sticks around in the US economy, employers will likely stick to playing it safe and avoiding any risky commitments.
Good news for contractors
The avoidance of long-term commitment is echoed in the contract market as the report finds contractors are making up 45 per cent of data teams and within those teams, 49 per cent are receiving a 35-week extension on their latest role. Compared to the average contract extension of 12 weeks last year, employers don’t seem to be pulling the plug any time soon whilst they continue to pursue cost-effective hiring.
The contract market is in luck as the buzz of AI will cause companies to increasingly rely on consultancies, as a cheaper and less permanent solution to creating full-stack teams internally.
AI continues to make a splash
Speaking of AI, the whole world is talking about it right now and it continues to be an area of focus in the data space, generating new roles and influencing wider skillsets in various specialisms to fulfil market needs.
The report shows signs that some sectors are beginning to utilize elements of AI, computer vision being a main area of focus. The development in areas such as generative AI both within language and image/video data, is stimulating the creation of new jobs and larger capabilities within established and emerging data teams. Another particular area in demand for candidates is conversational natural language processing (NLP) or prompt engineering which will be an area we are keeping our eyes on.
There is a fear of AI removing jobs in the data space but instead, AI seems to be delaying hiring processes as it’s currently limited to providing only short-term solutions. Until businesses have AI models built specifically for their products and services, it won’t be replacing full-time employees just yet.
The main advice from data professionals is to keep up with emerging technologies, as what is trending today won’t be the same in a year’s time. Adapting quickly will help businesses to reap the greatest benefits of this rapidly changing market.
This year we wanted to ensure that our clients and candidates were able to get the most out of our data. Therefore, our latest edition also includes an interactive tool where data professionals can check their salaries against the industry average and employers can download a free personalised data salary insights report to inform their hiring strategy, help with benchmarking and ensure they are hiring in line with industry trends.