Data Science Consultant Salary in 2024

Data Science Consultant Salary in 2024


Almost every industry has the potential to benefit from data science. However, most companies develop a problem when it comes to launching a data science team: They don’t know where to start, how to scale, or how to align data science to business outcomes.

Enter data science consulting.

Data science consultants help bridge the gap for businesses, offering guidance and expertise– and companies pay handsomely for it.

Here are some average rates for how much data science consultants make:

  • Data science consultant salary: 135,913 USD per year
  • Data science consultant rates: 200 to 350 dollars an hour
  • Data science consultant project rates: 5,000 to 7,000 USD per project

Note: All numbers are for U.S. consultants.

Ultimately, how much a data science consultant earns depends on factors like experience, the industry you’re in, whether you’re working freelance or with a data science consulting company, and the business value you can deliver.

For example, top-tier data science consultants easily make over 200K USD per year. And the average data scientist salary in the U.S. is around 162k USD with additional in bonuses.

What Do Data Science Consultants Do?

The most simple answer is that data science consultants help clients leverage data and build data infrastructure. Think of a consultant as an expert guide.

The consultant is embedded within the company to execute specific projects or provide guidance and expertise. Data science consultants typically serve two purposes:

  • Project-Based - Many consultants are hired to build specific data science solutions for clients. They’re paid a project-based rate – typically a minimum of 5,000 to 7,000 USD depending on the complexity of the project – and they deliver solutions tailored to the client’s needs. For example, a consultant might be hired to build ETL pipelines, perform exploratory data analysis, build predictive models, and/or deploy models for the client.

  • On-going business intelligence - Consultants may also be hired to provide ongoing expertise to help clients solve high-level business problems. They’re embedded in the business and may provide technical training, debug or tune existing models, and/or deploy and maintain specific data science solutions.

Many junior-level data scientists choose consulting to gain exposure to a variety of projects and to work with a variety of businesses and stakeholders.

Data Science Consultant Salary: What Affects Rates?

Ultimately, what data science consultants earn depends on a few key factors, including:

  • Experience - The more experience a consultant has, the more they can charge. Typically, entry-level data science consultants earn 200 - 250 USD per hour (with 1-5 years of experience), while experienced consultants charge 350 USD per hour (with 5+ years of experience.)

  • Location - Market rates are also heavily dependent on location. Average data science consultant salaries in San Francisco are around 144,963 USD annually, for example. In Austin, TX, data science consultants earn almost 114,057 USD per year on average.

Data science consultant salary by US Cities

  • Company vs Freelance - Consultants who work at a data science consulting firm, such as Quantumblack, can usually earn more than freelance consultants. For example, salaries for consulting companies start at 130,000 USD (Quantumblack). Freelance consultant salaries are largely dependent on client bases and hours. They also are more variable in income depending on how much work you can bring in.

  • Scope of Services - Finally, the project complexity affects costs. Rates for a machine learning consultant typically start at 300 USD per hour, 50% more than standard data science consulting rates.

Freelance Data Science Consultants

Freelance data science consultants are self-employed professionals. Freelancers must not only be experienced data scientists; they’re also responsible for prospecting for clients and projects. Therefore, salaries for freelance data science consultants can vary widely.

An entry-level data science consultant, for example, may spend 50% of their time prospecting for clients. As freelancers progress and build a client base, their earnings can rise exponentially. One study of data analytics freelancers found an average rate of $97.50. Factors that can affect rates for freelancers include:

  • Portfolio - A strong portfolio with a variety of data science projects is the No. 1 sales tool to help freelancers charge more.
  • Testimonials - Satisfied customers help freelancers build a brand, and is another powerful sales tool.
  • Education - A degree in data science or a related field can help you command higher rates, especially if you’re just starting out.

Data Science Consulting Companies

Many data scientists join consulting firms and work on projects specifically for the firm’s clients. Data science consulting firms offer some of the best salaries. Here’s a look at top data science consulting salaries by company:

Top Data Science Consulting Companies Salary in 2023

Along with additional cash bonuses and compensation, which can range from 10,000 USD to 20,000 USD, working as a data scientist at a consulting firm can be very lucrative.

However, if you’re looking to get a job in data science, likely big tech companies like Meta (Facebook) or Google will pay more for full-time data science hires.

The upside of working at a consulting company would be to learn how to start your own freelance business later down the line.

Who Earns More: Data Science Consultants or In-House Employees?

On average, in-house data scientists earn more than consultants. This is likely due to the wide variance in what consultants can earn. A quick comparison of data science salaries:

  • Consultants - around 135,913 USD / year
  • In-House Data Scientists - around 162,000 USD / year

Despite the wage gap, there are key benefits to working as a data science consultant. They include:

  • Specialization - Consultants can work on a wider range of projects across multiple industries, which can help when developing a specialization.
  • Flexibility - Freelancers, in particular, can work when they want and where they want, with ultimate control over who they work with.
  • Problem-Solving - Consulting develops your ability to identify problems and propose solutions. Because consultants are often brought on when something is not working, consultants tend to work on solutions-oriented projects.

More Data Science Salary Resources