2018 Market Update: Design & Data

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Demand for data and design candidates remained high throughout 2017 and will continue to grow in 2018.

As a result of this high demand, employers have been forced to contend with acute skills shortages, particularly when looking to secure qualified designers and data scientists.

The gap between junior and senior hires is growing, creating challenges for managers looking to secure mid-level candidates with 4-7 years' experience. As a result, candidates at this level are being recruited into more senior roles than they would previously be qualified.

To secure top talent, employers need to operate fast and efficiently throughout the hiring processes, particularly when recruiting design specialists. Furthermore, a flexible working environment has become the norm; and candidates also look to companies that can offer a clear path for career progression.

Key hiring areas/skills in demand:

Bitcoin and digital currency are increasingly popular sectors, with both designers and data scientists drawn to roles in this growing industry.

Mission driven startups continue to remain popular, especially in design, as do health-tech, fin-tech and ed-tech companies.

For data scientists, there was less emphasis on the specific industry, but rather the nature of the data sets involved and complexity of models they would get to tackle.

In 2018 more designers will continue to transition from visual to product design. Demand for strong designers in the enterprise space continues to grow, and enterprise companies are looking to bring in top-tier designers earlier in the company’s lifecycle than we have seen previously.

Candidate market:

Among data scientists, candidates who have completed a PhD will remain highly sought after, as will those who possess hands-on machine learning modeling experience. These candidates tend to be able to bring both data science and engineering skills sets, as opposed to an analytics background.

Data analysts continue to make the transition into data science as the demand and salaries increase, however these candidates often fall short in their skill sets unless they have been through some additional training.


In 2017 we saw significant increases in salaries for design specialists, while the data science market remained more consistent with previous years. We expect the salaries to increase for both fields in 2018, particularly for designers. Enterprise companies will often have to offer higher salaries for designers to attract that top-talent, as more designers still gravitate towards mobile, consumer roles.  

For more information on how Robert Walters can assist you with your job search, please get in touch with a consultant.

E:  sanfrancisco@robertwalters.co  |  T: 415 549 2000

E:  newyork@robertwalters.com  |  T: 212 704 9900

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