A recent article by Big Data blog Datanami has the provocative title: “Skip the Ph.D. and Learn Spark, Data Science Salary Survey Says” . The article references the 2015 O’Reilly salary survey, which surveyed over 600 data scientists, mostly in the US. One of the results highlighted indicated that the median salary of data scientists who knew Spark and Scala was $15,000 higher than the median salary across the survey. They quote the O’Reilly study: “If we indulge in a possible violation of assuming cause and effect, learning Spark could apparently have more of an impact on salary than getting a Ph.D.”
Of course, we in the AMPLab feel strongly that the rewards of getting a Ph.D. far exceed any near-term impacts on median salaries. In fact, as you already likely know, Spark itself grew out of the cutting-edge Ph.D. research that goes on in the lab.
So, while we don’t agree with the headline, it’s certainly a provocative sound bite.