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Data scientists are like the supermodels or football players of the enterprise world: highly in-demand and earning sky-high salaries in their prime but insecure about their future prospects.

Business intelligence company SiSense found that 59 percent of data scientists move on after less than six years in the industry. About half of them reported they were seriously concerned about their job security, despite an escalating salary.

The survey found that the annual earnings of a data professional can range from an average of $55,000 for a data analyst to an average of $132,000 for a vice president of analytics. Almost 80 percent reported that they expected a salary increase in 2013.

Data scientists have been touted as the elite group that are poised to capitalize on the hype surrounding Big Data. A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Co found that there is a major, global shortage of data scientists. Those with the skills to take a large data-set, model it, and glean insights, are proving impossibly difficult to recruit.

Still, the glamour and mystique that surrounds the data scientist is relatively recent, and it’s easy to understand their misgivings about the future. As Irfan Khan, Sybase’s CTO explains in ITWorld, the newly-minted data scientist’s role will be jeopardy in if companies don’t hire the right management team.

The study also found that data scientists tend to work in groups of five or more. This is a practice that is routinely encouraged by Silicon Valley’s tech companies: LinkedIn is known for its team, formerly headed by D.J. Patil (pictured above), that developed features like “People You May Know” and “Jobs You May be Interested in.” Facebook’s pack of 12 researchers is led by “in-house sociologist” Cameron Marlow.

The survey results are based on responses from over 400 data scientists and analysts from around the world, collected online in July 2012.

Top image via Joi

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