Writing about my job: Data Scientist

post by technicalities · 2021-07-19T10:26:32.884Z · EA · GW · 5 comments


  Day in the life
  Skills developed
  Bottom line
  See also

Data Scientist: Person who is worse at statistics than any statistician & worse at software engineering than any software engineer.

~ Will Cukierski


What: Data scientist in a multinational, in London. First hire in a new team. 

When: 2016-2019.


When I arrived I had almost no ML experience; one Master's project. I did have 2 years of ordinary software dev experience, and given a new team with no infrastructure and vast amounts of engineering needed before the first model, this was enough.

The market was incredibly hot then, as it is now - about 30% annual turnover. This greatly lowers the bar. DM me if you want an introduction to some desperate managers.

(It is perhaps the best it will ever be to work in data: after the data deluge, before auto ML really gets there.)

Even so, my overall record is 3 offers out of 8 applications, 6 of which I applied for after I had real experience.


Day in the life

Skills developed

Bottom line

Extremely flexible hours, challenging nonroutine tasks, unlimited remote work, very good pay per hour (and 15% annual wage growth), massive amounts of autonomy (relative to manual work), friendly smart colleagues. I think I stayed late 3 times in 3 years - on one occasion this earned me a dinner with the big boss(?!). In-house yoga classes. Beautiful buildings. They paid for my second degree and gave 10% time off to study.

All that objective stuff said: there was something missing for someone odd like me.

See also


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by AppliedDivinityStudies · 2021-07-19T17:57:40.253Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the writeup. Minor point about salary, is £41k entry-level is typical for London? According to Glassdoor average base pay for US is $116k USD, equivalent to £85k. Their page for Data Scientists in London puts the average at £52k.

I get that this is an average overall levels of seniority, but it's also just your base pay. My impression from Levels.fyi is that at large US companies, base pay is only around 67-75% of total compensation.

So I guess what I'm asking is, given your experience, which of the following statements would you agree with:

  • The aggregate data is wrong or misleading
  • You're being underpaid
  • There really is a huge pay difference between the UK and US
  • Something else?
Replies from: technicalities, dan.pandori
comment by technicalities · 2021-07-19T18:22:21.512Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Big old US >> UK pay gap imo. Partial explanation for that: 32 days holiday in the UK vs 10 days US. 

(My base pay was 85% of total; 100% seems pretty normal in UK tech.)

Other big factor: this was in a sorta sleepy industry that tacitly trades off money for working the contracted 37.5 h week, unlike say startups. Per hour it was decent, particularly given 10% study time. 

If we say hustling places have a 50 h week (which is what one fancy startup actually told me they expected), then 41 looks fine

comment by dan.pandori · 2021-07-20T23:24:40.312Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I also had a sticker shock here at the number. Thanks for including the Glassdoor links, I was very surprised that base pay in the US overall is higher than London (which is presumably the most expensive UK market).

Replies from: AppliedDivinityStudies
comment by AppliedDivinityStudies · 2021-07-21T03:42:19.995Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I would guess US market (at least those reporting on Glassdoor) skews heavily SF/NYC, maybe Seattle.

Replies from: Peter_Hurford
comment by Peter Wildeford (Peter_Hurford) · 2021-07-22T04:07:01.554Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

FWIW I made $187K/yr in total comp (£136K/yr) in Chicago as a data scientist after four years of experience. My starting salary was $83K/yr in total comp (£60K/yr) with no experience. In both jobs, I worked about 30hrs/wk. My day-to-day experience was rather identical to this post.