Best Cities to Work as a Data Scientist | by Renato Boemer | Jan, 2021

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Silicon Valley isn’t your only option. Data Scientists are in demand worldwide and speaking both English and French might become a valuable skill.

The job landscape for Data Scientists is promising. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, by 2026, there will be roughly 11.5 million job openings [1]. These numbers suggest that companies outside Silicon Valley recognise the importance of data professionals to their business. As a result, both experienced professionals and those in a career change to Data Science can expand their horizons. Although, Silicon Valley is still the number one area for data professionals — and with the highest average salaries — it’s not the only option.

Based on the growing demand in different industries, the list of cities below are on a positive trend for Data Scientists. Some of the factors influencing the list below include the number of hiring companies, government investment, collaboration between academia and industry as well as salary. Interestingly, leading cities are no longer exclusively English-speaking. Investments in Data Professionals and Artificial Intelligence are also directed to French-speaking areas. The French-speaking trend might gain thrust now that the UK has left the European Union.

So, here are the best cities to work as a Data Scientists beyond Silicon Valley, split between English and French language.

Boston, US

Boston is well-known for its high concentration of universities, such as MIT and Harvard, and insurance and cybersecurity companies [2]. According to the management consultancy KPMG, Boston is among the top ten cities globally to become the “leading technology innovation hub outside of Silicon Valley over the next four years” [3]. Let alone several startups on AngelList that are hiring [4]. The average annual salary is $141,000, which delivers an above-average purchasing power given the living cost.

Delhi, India

India is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs globally with Delhi leading the way with young entrepreneurs [5]. More US companies are seeking to acquire local startups to enter this complex yet necessary market. Although the currency exchange rate drags salaries down compared with western countries, living costs are also low. Therefore, Delhi turns out to be an excellent testing market for startups and innovative ideas. Also, there is a massive opportunity to target Indian consumers, as there are around 340 million people with internet access. Not surprisingly, global companies, such as Alibaba and Google, have capitalised on the country’s digital scene.

London, UK

London is the world’s hub for the link between artificial intelligence (AI) and the Financial Technology industry (FinTech). The UK government has settled a £1 billion deal, roughly $ 1.35 million, with over 50 tech companies around the world specialised in AI [6]. The city is also home to the Alan Turing Institute. London often hosts international summits such as the Deep Learning Summit, AI Summit, ODSC’s European Conference, and the Strata Data Conference. There is no shortage of opportunity to network.

The cost of living is high, mainly because of rent, which can take up to 60% of one’s monthly income. However, a Data Scientist’s average salary being £61,543 is ten per cent more than the average national Data Scientist job’s salary [7]. Also, London is just 50 min away from Cambridge, home of the University of Cambridge and considered one of Europe’s leading biomedical research hub.

Raleigh-Durham, the US

The ‘triangle’ (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is known for both research and technology centres. The triangle is home to Lenovo, Citrix and Cisco among other top companies. Raleigh-Durham has a younger and thriving population with a median age of 36. This mid-sized group of cities has been raking as one of the top locations for data professionals. Also, its citizens have a far lower cost of living compared with San Francisco. The demand for Data Scientists has been powered mostly by healthcare IT and tech research labs.

Toronto, Canada

Most data professional jobs in Toronto are driven by financial institutions such as TD Bank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, etc. An entry-level data scientist position’s average annual salary sits between CAD 80,000 to $85,000 [8]. The University of Toronto is among the top universities in the world in computer sciences and fosters an interdisciplinary research environment [9]. As a result, the city has attracted attention for contributions in a wide range of scholarly disciplines and commercial innovations involving Big Data. Toronto is also the home of the Vector Institute, which drives research and leadership in AI, fostering economic growth and improving Canadians’ lives.

Geneva, Switzerland

Despite Switzerland being one of the most expensive cities to live in Europe, if you work as a Data Scientists in Geneva, than that might not be an issue. The city attracts talented Data Scientist with increasing financial rewards, as the average net salary in Geneva can be 75% higher than those in London [10]. Top tech companies have offices in Geneva including Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Oracle. But if you would like to work in a startup environment, here is a list for you to watch in 2021.

Montréal, Canada

The city of Montréal might come as a surprise to many Data Scientists and AI professionals outside Canada. However, the Montréal has emerged as an AI powerhouse. According to Forbes Magazine and author of Deep Learning, Professor Yoshua Bengio, says that:

“Montréal has the combination of great universities, innovative companies (including multiple of Silicon Valley companies who have established offices in the city), and the Canadian ethos of cooperation… unlike the competitive, individualistic culture of much North America.[11]

Also, another reason to work here is the Montréal Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA). The institute is similar to a large startup and has become the centre of the AI development in Montréal. MILA combines machine learning researchers of both McGill University and the University of Montreal. It has over 500 professionals dedicated to machine learning innovation and offers many training programmes.

Paris, France

Last but not least, Paris has a lower cost of living than some other European hubs, like Geneva. Since 2014, it has been selected by notable tech companies such as IBM and Amazon to develop innovation labs, while Deepmind has long-term plans to host AI labs (video below). Paris is definitely a historic and vibrant city, making it even more attractive. It features an average annual salary of about $55,000, which might increase as the French government commits to invest in technology and research [12]. Also, Paris is just a 2-hour train from central London and has easy access to Geneva.

Conclusion

Data professionals are in demand and will continue to be at least for the next years. Working as a Data Scientist in Silicon Valley might be a dream and can remains as such. Nevertheless, plenty of cities worldwide hire data professionals, invest Machine Learning and create AI research hubs. As a result, it seems that French-speaking cities have emerged as potential centres and consequently turning French a second language for data professionals. This is an exciting opportunity as the French language can open a new route for experienced professionals and those in a career change who, otherwise, would not be able to work in an high tech and AI companies like those in Silicon Valley.

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