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Principal Data Scientist Salary in the US

Data scientists are in high demand, especially given the massive amounts of data that tech companies must deal with. Top FAANG and tier-1 tech firms offer competitive principal data scientist salary packages that include a slew of perks and bonuses.

As a principal data scientist, you must work closely with stakeholders and potentially lead a cross-functional team in developing the best solutions to a given problem. Top companies value data science professionals because they are among the most experienced members of the organization. They also earn a lot of money. Continue reading to learn about the various factors that influence a principal data scientist's salary and which companies can pay you the most for this position.

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This article will discuss the principal data scientist's salary based on experience, company, and location. 

Here's what we'll cover:

  • What Does a Principal Data Scientist Do?
  • Skills Needed to Become a Principal Data Scientist
  • Average Principal Data Scientist Salary in the US 
  • Factors That Affect Principal Data Scientist Salary
  • Principal Data Scientist Salary by Location
  • Comparison of Principal Data Scientist Salary at FAANG+ Companies
  • FAQs on Principal Data Scientist Salary

What Does a Principal Data Scientist Do?

Before learning about the principal data scientist salary, you must understand the roles and responsibilities of the position.

There are different data scientist levels in an organization- junior, mid-level, senior, principal data scientist, and director. The Principal Data Scientist is a senior position with leadership responsibilities in addition to primary roles that include analyzing data sets to extract relevant insights. The exact duties vary based on the company you are working with. Here is an overview of the role of a principal data scientist in top tech companies:

  • You must direct and develop multiple projects simultaneously.
  • You may not do everything yourself, but you must supervise and guide the data science work from the beginning to the completion of a project. So, you have to handle data acquisition through model development to deployment. 
  • In a dynamic environment, you must master the skill to leverage data science methods, including AI and machine learning.
  • You should possess a proven ability with statistical methods and advanced modeling techniques. For example- SVM, Random Forest, graph models, Bayesian inference, NLP, Computer Vision, neural networks, and more.
  • You have to delegate tasks and manage junior and senior data scientists, data engineers, and program managers. 
  • Principal data scientists integrate with the inter-product level, unlike any other senior data scientist who provides an independent contribution at the intra-product level.
  • You must employ various tools and technologies while creating algorithms and predictive models for large data interpretation for the company's business.
  • If you are a Principal data scientist, you must have the ability to solve data science problems that senior-level data scientists do not. 

Therefore, you must be an expert in specific data science areas, and if not, you must possess the ability to gain the necessary skills quickly. 

Skills Needed to Become a Principal Data Scientist

The eligibility criteria depend on the company you are applying for. You must check out the official job description for the principal data scientist position. Here is a basic idea of what qualifications the position demands for your reference. Top tech companies will present you with options of different combinations, for instance- 

  • Option 1: You must possess a Bachelor's degree in Statistics, Analytics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Computer Science, Information Technology, or a related field and at least five years of experience in an analytics-related field. 
  • Option 2: You must have a Master's degree in Statistics, Analytics, Mathematics, Economics, Computer Science, Information Technology, or a related field and a minimum of three years of experience in an analytics-related field. 
  • Option 3: You must have 5+ years of experience in analytics or related fields. 

Average Principal Data Scientist Salary in the US

The average Principal Data Scientist salary in the US is $165,492 per year and $83.33 per hour. However, the salary range fluctuates between $145,782 and $181,356 per year due to various influencing factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and more. The probable factors that can affect your principal data scientist salary are discussed in the next section. 

The total compensation range of $145,782 and $181,356 can be broken down as follows:

  • Principal Data Scientist Base Salary: $127,837 - $150,799
  • Bonus: $4k - $26k
  • Equity Range: $1k - $19k
  • Commission: $0 - $18k

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, senior data scientists earn approximately $142,258 per year. With an ever-increasing demand for well-experienced principal data scientists to join the tech companies, the salaries in the US are expected to increase by at least 15% in the coming few years.

Factors That Affect Principal Data Scientist Salary

You should know that a single factor cannot determine how much a data scientist can earn. Instead, a combination of factors influences your salary as a data scientist. Here are a few crucial factors that will contribute to the determination of your principal data scientist salary. 

  • Experience is a primary factor. If you are an experience-holder as a principal data scientist, you can expect a $2,000–$2,500 salary hike for every year of experience. 
  • Education is another critical determiner for your salary as a Principal Data Scientist. If you have a master's degree or a Ph.D. in data science, business analytics, or other relevant subjects, it will add value to your salary.  
  • If you have relevant industry skills such as proficiency in Python and R, it will be easier for you to negotiate a higher salary.
  • A good performance in your junior data scientist positions helps you advance to the principal data scientist level and adds to your salary.
  • The company size and location play an important role in deciding your salary. For instance, top tech companies in Silicon Valley pay more compared to other US cities.
  • Your skill to negotiate your principal data scientist salary in the technical interview rounds can also affect the total compensation you receive. 

Learn about the top 10 Factors That Influence Salary Negotiation.

Principal Data Scientist Salary by Location

If you manage to grab a top position in a company, your senior Principal Data scientist salary will be strongly influenced by the location of the job. You will be offered some of the highest salaries in cities where the top tech companies are located. 

The average principal data scientist salary in San Francisco is $187,497 per year. This makes San Francisco the highest paying US city for principal data scientists. NYC is next on the list offering an average salary of $185,000.

Let's take a look at some more famous US cities and their offers in terms of average principal data scientist salary:

Comparison of Principal Data Scientist Salary at FAANG+ Companies

Your total principal data scientist salary will include the base salary and additional compensations/bonuses at FAANG+ companies. In terms of base salary, a Google principal data scientist earns a maximum, i.e., up to $139,650 per year on average, while Apple offers the maximum total compensation (including bonuses).

Here is a comparison of Principal data scientist salary packages in FAANG and Tier-1 companies. So, if you are a senior principal data scientist, you can expect the following pay (on average) at some of these FAANG companies annually:

FAQs on Principal Data Scientist Salary

Q1. Is data science a good career?

There is a high demand for data scientists to join the workforce as various tech companies need highly proficient data scientists to manage their huge amounts of unstructured data. Also, it is expected that the salaries of senior data scientist positions in the US will increase by at least 15%.

Q2. What topics should I prepare for a principal data scientist position?

Principal data scientist interviews involve a coding and an algorithm round. You must have a thorough knowledge of algorithms and data structures. In addition, you must practice leadership, behavioral, and situational questions since you are applying for a leadership position. 

Q3. How do you become a principal data scientist?

Principal Data Scientist salary is the highest because they're the most experienced team members. You must have 5+ years of experience and in-depth knowledge of data science tools and models. If you have a Ph.D. in data science or a related subject, you multiply the chances of becoming a principal data scientist.

Q4. Which are the highest paying jobs in data science?

You can expect a maximum salary if you are positioned as a senior data scientist. In the US, the senior principal data scientist salary is $165,492, and you can also earn a good salary in database management and data analyst positions.  

Q5. Is the principal data scientist's salary higher than the lead data scientist's salary?

Principal data scientist is one of the senior-most positions in the data science department, while lead is a title for the head of a specific data science project. The national average salary for a lead data scientist in the US is $1,42,258 per year, and for principal data scientist is $165,492 per year.

How to Ace Data Scientist Interviews at FAANG+ Companies

If you need help with your prep, join Interview Kickstart's Data Science Interview Course — the first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed and taught by FAANG+ instructors. Click here to learn more about the program. 

IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. 

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Last updated on: 
August 10, 2021

Dipen Dadhaniya

Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart

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