How Much Does a Data Scientist at Netflix Earn?

Dubbed both the “sexiest” and “hottest” job of the 21st century by the Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg, data scientists in the United States are in high demand—and with that, they’re seeing equally high salaries. Read on to learn more about Netflix's data scientist salaries.

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Netflix is one of the most data-driven entertainment companies in the world. In addition to using data to power its recommendation algorithms, the company relies on data scientists, analysts, and engineers to tease out insights that inform the content it greenlights, its marketing campaigns, membership acquisition strategy, and ways to improve the platform.

It’s no surprise then that Netflix’s data scientists are also among the most well paid—the company has a reputation for offering high salaries to secure the best talent across all categories, with the base salary for a Netflix data scientist being around $216,000-$231,000, according to Glassdoor.

What are the different roles performed by data scientists at Netflix?

Netflix has multiple analytics teams that include a business strategy group, a customer insights group, and a separate data science and engineering group that specializes in analytics at scale. It’s this latter group that performs the work of conventional data scientists such as statistical modeling, data modeling, metric development, performing deep-dive analysis, and software engineering. This group is also expected to be fluent in programming languages such as SQL and Python; experience with infrastructure and tools such as Hadoop, Hive, and Spark; and knowledgeable about data reporting and visualization.

Data scientists within the data science and engineering group use data to answer a wide range of questions such as ‘How can we make the product experience even better?’, ‘Which shows and films bring the most joy to our members?’, ‘Who can we partner with to expand access to our service in new markets?’. They also work closely with different parts of Netflix’s business to ensure they have the context needed to understand the problems they’re solving. For example, a data scientist aligned with the product team might focus on issues related to customer service, user interfaces, and recommendation algorithms. A data scientist on the content team might use data to help the company decide which shows to license or greenlight. And a data scientist embedded with the membership team might work on acquisition marketing, improving the sign-up flow, and figuring out how to keep customers engaged. 

Whatever the team, Netflix’s data scientists are expected to have “full ownership” of the problems they tackle. According to Netflix, this means they are responsible for “building new data pipelines, navigating complex schemas and large data sets, developing or improving metrics for business performance, and creating intuitive visualizations and dashboards—always with an eye towards actionable insights.”

Salary levels of data scientists at Netflix

Netflix is unique compared to companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon because it doesn’t use a leveling system to determine employee salaries or seniority. Rather, because the company is known for hiring only experienced professionals, its workers typically begin with a senior title (E.g. “Senior data scientist”), and their career advancement takes the form of added responsibilities and increased compensation. Thus, it’s not unusual for two data scientists who share the same title to have average base salaries that range from $200,000 to more than $400,000, depending on years of experience and accomplishments at the company.

Title changes normally come into play at the management level, where a data scientist can advance from a principal to a director, to a vice president, to the executive suite.

Entry-level data scientist salary at Netflix

Netflix offers very few opportunities for entry-level data scientists because the company prioritizes experienced professionals who can hit the ground running without additional support or training. Interns are the exception, although Netflix is also notorious for accepting so few trainees that it doesn’t even have a formal internship program.

Netflix interns are paid as contractors. Salary data from Glassdoor suggests that the average hourly wage of a Netflix data science intern ranges from $56-61. 

Data scientists on the lower end of Netflix’s compensation spectrum have an average salary of around $127,000, plus stock options. Current and former employees note that high performers are rewarded with salary increases that take the place of a bonus and stock grants.

Senior-level data scientist salary at Netflix

Nearly all of Netflix’s data scientists come in at the senior level, although individual salaries can greatly vary depending on years of experience, education, location, and accomplishments. 

Data scientists on the higher end of Netflix’s compensation spectrum (who aren’t managers) have an average salary exceeding $200,000, plus stock options.

Stock options at Netflix

Like many other companies, Netflix awards its workers stock options to foster a greater sense of employee investment in the company. 

Netflix employees normally receive stock options in one of two ways:

  1. The company automatically provides stock options equal to five percent of an employee’s annual salary.
  2. Each employee can choose how much of their compensation they want in salary versus stock options, including all cash, all options, and whatever combination of both; these ten-year stock options come fully vested, and employees keep them even after they leave Netflix.

Benefits at Netflix

In addition to some of the highest salaries in the industry, Netflix offers its employees a slew of perks and benefits that include:

  • Complete health insurance
  • 401K matching
  • Complimentary meals and snacks
  • Unlimited parental leave (most employees take between 4-8 months)
  • Unlimited vacation days
  • Fertility benefits, including support for surrogacy and adoption
  • Onsite fitness classes
  • Charity matching
  • Relocation benefits
  • Salary adjustments so that employees are always paid at the top of the market in their category
  • Pet-friendly workplace

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