How Much Can You Earn as a Data Science Freelancer?

A recent study from O’Reilly found that data science is a wide field with many specializations and job descriptions. However, the average earning of an employed data scientist—45% of all respondents would consider themselves as such—is between $60,000 and $110,000. This means that experienced data scientists over time quite certainly reach six-figure income levels if they keep improving and searching for new opportunities. Here’s a screenshot from the report showing the different routes you can go:

data scientist salary
Source: O’Reilly Salary Data Science Salary Report, 2016

You can see that there are significant opportunities “down the line” by working as an architect, team leader, or manager that earn significantly above six-figures. Becoming an employed data scientist remains an attractive way to make a great living.

But what about freelance data scientists? Do they earn more?

The best data comes directly from the source: Upwork, the biggest freelancer market in the world. Let’s dive into some profiles from freelance data scientists!

Here’s a table of 24 freelance data scientists incomes from the Upwork results:

Freelancer Hourly Income Earned Job Success
Data Science & Machine Learning $60 $100.000 100%
Data Science & Machine Learning $300 $100.000 100%
Data Science Consultant $50 $10.000 97%
Data Science & Machine Learning $25 $10.000 91%
Data Science/Analyst, Statistician $70 $100.000 97%
Applied Machine Learning $300 $50.000 100%
Chief Technology Officer $55 $200.000 100%
Computer Vision $32 $2.000.000 100%
Data Engineer $50 $10.000 100%
Research Scientist $150 $700.000 95%
Analytics Expert $52 $10.000 100%
Deep Learning Expert $195 $10.000 100%
Data Scientist $60 $10.000 77%
Scalable Analytics Consultant $300 $500.000 100%
Machine Learning $40 $8.000 91%
Machine Learning $80 $30.000 100%
Tutor $30 $20.000 92%
Math $38 $4.000 100%
NLP $35 $30.000 71%
Machine Learning $50 $4.000 100%
Big Data Engineer $50 $10.000 100%
AVERAGE $96 $186.476 96%

The tabular data is drawn from 100 Upwork freelancer profiles as they appeared in the Upwork search. We randomly chose profiles and filtered them for data availability (e.g., total money earned). The result is that the average freelance data scientist earns $96 per hour. For 1700 working hours per year and a full schedule, this results in an average annual income of $163,200. To accomplish this, you need to join the ranks of relatively high-rated freelancers above 90% job satisfaction.

Let’s have a look at some other data sources: As a data scientist, you’re a programmer—in a way. The demand for programming talent has steadily increased in the preceding decades.

Here’s a quick tabular overview of what you can earn as a data scientist—it shows that as a data scientist, you’re in effect a well-compensated coder with specific skill sets.

Title Best Programming Languages Yearly Income (Average US)
Web Developer JavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL $78,088
Mobile Developer Android Java $126,154
Mobile Developer Apple Swift $123,263
Back End Developer Python + Django + Flask $127,913
Front End Developer JavaScript + HTML + CSS $109,742
Full-Stack Engineer Python + JavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL $112,098
Data Scientist Python + Matplotlib + Pandas + NumPy + Dash $122,700
Machine Learning Engineer Python + NumPy + Scikit-Learn + TensorFlow $145,734

Let’s dive into the different freelance developer career choices for maximum success!

Related Article: Best Programming Languages to Start Freelancing in 2020

Do you want to develop the skills of a well-rounded Python professional—while getting paid in the process? Become a Python freelancer and order your book Leaving the Rat Race with Python on Amazon (Kindle/Print)!

Leaving the Rat Race with Python Book

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory, let’s get some practice!

To become successful in coding, you need to get out there and solve real problems for real people. That’s how you can become a six-figure earner easily. And that’s how you polish the skills you really need in practice. After all, what’s the use of learning theory that nobody ever needs?

Practice projects is how you sharpen your saw in coding!

Do you want to become a code master by focusing on practical code projects that actually earn you money and solve problems for people?

Then become a Python freelance developer! It’s the best way of approaching the task of improving your Python skills—even if you are a complete beginner.

Join my free webinar “How to Build Your High-Income Skill Python” and watch how I grew my coding business online and how you can, too—from the comfort of your own home.

Join the free webinar now!

Author: Shantun Parmar

21 thoughts on “How Much Can You Earn as a Data Science Freelancer?

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