While companies complain about lack of analytic talent, professionals complain about lack of jobs. Everyone wants to work for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Intel, Apple, Twitter or some hot start-up. It creates fierce competition getting a job interview, let alone a job. But companies that do not belong to this circle see very few candidates applying for their data scientist open positions; in addition, they are only hiring what I call technical developers (defined by a narrow set of technical skills, usually R, Python, NoSQL, Hadoop, Map-Reduce, software engineering). They are not interested in real data scientists, so many data scientists that would apply would (erroneously) not be perceived as bringing value, and not interviewed.
The problem with consulting is of a different nature. Companies are looking for the cheapest consultant having the minimum set of qualifications to perform the task (the candidate will be asked to provide details about previous projects). Because the work is performed from home, consultants compete with people all over the world to land a gig. Analytic professionals in India, found on websites such as Elance, charge $30/hour. On Statistics.com, you can hire consultants in India for $59/hour.
When I wrote my article about my salary history, a few people mentioned that my consulting rates (from $45 to $100/hour) were absurdly low given my expertize. But compared with rates in India or Romania, it is actually not low. Those charging $150 to $250 per hour are having a difficult time finding new clients. And if all your great skills and expertise are not considered useful to a client, he won’t pay for it, especially if this expertise is not used to generate greater revenue. Indeed, many PhD statisticians work as part-time adjunct professors with salaries even far lower, or write other PhD students theses for a fee – typically for $5,000 – as these are the only clients that they can get.