A Canada-US Comparison of Academic Qualification Requirements for Data Scientist Job

1. Job Posting Statistics: Canada vs USA
In my previous post I analyzed Canadian data scientist job postings scraped from Glassdoor. The analysis resulted in the following conclusion: in Canada roughly 50% of employers consider hiring folks with only a bachelor’s degree, provided all other requirements are met. Approximately one third of employers only consider candidates with advanced degrees (Masters and PhDs). In this post I decided to analyze US data scientist job postings and to compare them to my previous results.

I started by scraping 472 data scientist job postings from Glassdoor with ‘USA’ as the location. For each posting the job title, company name, city, and job description were extracted. I then used Regex for Python 3.6 to snoop into the job descriptions and scoop out the academic qualifications required by employers. Same website, same scraping method, the same method method of data extraction as in my previous post.

The obtained data can be presented by the following chart.
The statistics of educational requirements for Canada and the USA are combined in the chart below. Each bar of the chart represents the percentage of postings with the specific education requirement. The front bars are the percentage of job postings in Canada, and the back bars are for the USA. The statistics for Canada were taken from my previous post.
As it follows from the chart above, 20% of the job postings in the USA only require a bachelor’s degree compared to 45% in Canada. This fact indicates a significant difference between the two job markets.

This means that in the United Sates a job seeker with a bachelor’s degree has a meager 20% chance of getting a job interview, provided all other requirements are met. At the same time 29% would prefer a job candidate with an advanced degree, but don’t mind trying out a job seeker with a bachelor’s degree as well. This gives a range from 20% to 49%. The middle point of this range is 35%. Thus, roughly 35% of employers would consider folks with a bachelor’s degree, provided all their other requirements are met. On the other hand, it also follows that in the USA in 51% of cases employers will only consider candidates with advanced degrees.

These results together with the similar data for Canada are summarized in the table below

Candidates with
Advanced Degree
Candidates with Bachelor’s or
higher Degree (Midpoint)
USA 51%20%-49% (35%)
Canada32%45%-69% (57%)

The data in the above table suggests that the American job market for data scientists is more demanding than in Canada. It is interesting to note that the statistics of already employed data scientists support this finding. The chart below presents the educational background of data scientists in the USA. Only 10% of employed data scientists have a bachelor’s degree. This very low percentage confirms that in the USA a candidate for a data scientist position is expected to have an advanced degree.


The educational background of data scientists. Source: Burtch Works Study, 2015

2. Geography of the Demand for Data Scientists
It is interesting to compare the geographic distribution of job postings within the two countries. The chart below shows the percentage of job postings for the top 13 cities in each country in the ascending order.
The difference in geography of job postings is quite striking. In Canada the vast majority of job positions are concentrated within a few major cities. In the USA the demand for data scientists is much more evenly distributed, with each city having a small chunk of the job market share. Toronto has the same market share as the top 10 American cities combined. But this is not entirely surprising as this data fits perfectly over the population distributions of the two countries. Still, it is interesting that this fact is also confirmed through the analysis of job postings. I would definitely not fancy someone’s chances of finding a data science job outside the top three Canadian cities. As Bart Simpson put it, “Some say the ducks went to Canada, others say Toronto.”

3. Conclusion
The Canada-USA comparative study of data scientist job postings found at Glassdoor suggests that there’s a significant difference in educational requirements between these two countries. In Canada about 50% of employers consider hiring a candidate with only a bachelor’s degree, provided all other requirements are met. This result contrasts with data for the USA where only about 35% of employers grant interviews for bachelor’s degree holders. The data shows that in general, in the United States the educational requirements are higher for data scientist job positions.

In the case of the United States, this finding is supported by job statistics compiled by a Burtch Works Study, 2015 for the educational background of data scientists. Unfortunately similar statistics for Canada couldn’t be found. A reasonable explanation for such a disparity is the well-known fact of the migration of high-skilled workers from Canada to the United States, so called “brain drain”.

Job posting statistics also reveal the significant difference in the geographical distribution of data scientist job positions in the two countries. In Canada life for data scientists exists mostly in and around Toronto. In the US, cities holding a share of the market are more spread throughout the country.

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