Toronto’s Data Science Odyssey: A Tale of Triumphs, Tribulations, and a Dash of Uncertainty

December 14, 2023

Well, it’s about that time again for your monthly data science jobs update.  A little past time actually.  My apologies.  I got a little busy with several LLM related projects.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, as more and more companies look to leverage LLMs in their business.  That said, we can, and will, take a look at just how prominent the demand is for this skill/tool.  

Before we do that however, we’ll check back in with the Toronto data science job market.  In my previous blog, I took a ‘self-interested’ look at how the city was performing relative to North America.  And it was performing really well!  Granted, the analysis was based on just two months’ worth of data scraped from a jobs site, but as some sports coach probably said somewhere at some time, “a win is a win is a win.”

Toronto 1, North America 0:

Toronto outperformed the rest of the North American market.  More than that however, the city’s data science jobs scene emerged as a rising star.  It provided the third most job postings, even beating out San Francisco and ranked fifth in average salary among cities.  And despite a September downturn in jobs, Toronto’s data science jobs were resilient with just a 4% decrease, while local players like banks gave the Toronto scene a distinct financial flavor.

Toronto 1, North America 1??

But again, with only two months worth of data, was it premature to celebrate this ‘win’  and how would Toronto fare against the rest of North America with an additional month?  The answer, I’m afraid is…definitely not as good!  If I can borrow another sports quote, it turns out, ‘it ain’t over, til it’s over’, so we can put the champagne, and my use of sports cliques, on ice…for now.

Now the news isn’t all bad.  Not at all.  In fact, Toronto had a very impressive showing in one key category, which we will now address.  In doing so, we will also look at the questions from the previous blog. 

Question 1:  Which North American job markets hold the top spots, and how does Toronto rank among them?

Last time around, Toronto was the third largest data science jobs provider in North America.  The good news is Toronto was able to hold on to its ranking.  Only New York and Washington posted more data science job opportunities than Toronto.  Actually, after three months worth of data, the top ten ranking remains unchanged.

Top 10 cities with Data Science job postings

However, when we take a closer look into the number of data science jobs posted over the last three months, the news is even better for Toronto.  It seems August was a particularly good month, relative to September and October anyway, and that the number of job postings decreased in September.  Some cities were able to have a bit of a ‘bounce back’ month in October, but no one was able to match the number of postings from August.  Well, no one, except for Toronto!

Top 10 cities by Publication Month (Excluding remote)

While some major markets like New York, Washington and San Francisco continued to decline, Toronto registered 215 jobs postings, which surpassed its August total of 187.

Not surprisingly, if we’re only looking at the month of October, Toronto was the largest data science jobs market.  In the graph below, you can also see how the number of jobs breaks down by job type

While this is great news, things are not quite as rosy for Toronto, or as clear, from here on in.  But just before we get into that, I think it is worth noting that only 35% of the jobs posted for Toronto were data analyst positions; something that might take on greater significance when we address the next question related to salary.

Question 2:  How Much Do Toronto Data Science Jobs Pay Compared to the Rest of the North American Market?

Given the strong Toronto job numbers, is there equally strong compensation?  Not so much, actually.  In fact, we actually see a marked decline among some key salary indicators.  I should note however that what follows should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Acquiring salary information from job postings is always a tricky thing.  Most postings do not provide a salary, and obtaining this information for Toronto jobs has proven particularly elusive.

Of the 532 jobs posted in Toronto from August through to October, only 62, or 12 percent, listed a salary.  This month was even worse.  Given 215 postings, the salary data was only captured in 22 instances, for a measly 10 percent of jobs.  So there is not a lot to go on, especially when compared to the rest of North America where 41 percent of 19588 jobs disclosed compensation.

Given the scarcity of salary information for Toronto jobs, I would like to buttress the ensuing bad news with my earlier observation that only 35 percent of the data science job postings were for data analyst positions.  This means that 65 percent of job postings were for higher paying jobs, namely data engineering, data science and machine learning engineering.  I suspect that had the compensation category been a little bit more forthcoming, we would have seen higher dollar amounts given how numerous these other data science jobs are.  

Indeed, if we look at the chart below, we can see that of the 59 data science positions posted, only one salary was provided.

Job TitleTotal JobsSalary PresentPercentage
Data Analyst76911.8
Data Engineer33515.2
Data Scientist5911.7
Machine Learning Engineer47714.9

Be that as it may, Toronto did lose ground here when compared to its North American counterparts.  It saw its average salary ranking go from fifth overall to eighth.  In doing so, Toronto saw a drop from $110 000 to $102 000, while San Francisco and Seattle retained the top two spots in terms of highest average salary.

Average salary in top 10 cities

Moreover, if we look at salaries across a quantile range for the month of October, it’s much more favorable toward the North American market.

Quantile North AmericaToronto
0.0012 00031 200
0.2571 30271 301
0.5097 00097 000
0.75125 000127 400
1.00585 000360 000

Ultimately, we’ll have to acquire more data to see if these comparisons are valid, so stay tuned for November.

Question 3:  Who are the Biggest Players

Another interesting question is, given that the Toronto data science job numbers were so positive, (even if the salary was a bit unsteady), who were the companies that contributed most to these job postings.  Previously, the Toronto landscape was defined by the big banks and/or financial services.  And what about the rest of North America?  Who’s hiring?  Let’s find out.

Top 10 companies hiring in Toronto by Job Count

It looks like the jobs hiring picture is largely the same over a three month period.  The big banks (TD Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank) and financial services (Jerry, EY) account for 5 of the top 7 hiring companies.  Interestingly enough, the Vector Institute finds itself in the top 10.  The Vector Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to AI research!

When we look at just the month of October, we see some additional AI related companies (Experfy Inc, Invision AI) and IT companies (Atlantis IT group, Marut Inc).  It will be interesting to see if the emergence of these AI related companies continues over time and what that might say for the Toronto jobs landscape.  We can also note that TD has consistently been hiring data science professionals over the three month period we are investigating.

Top 10 companies Hiring in Toronto for the Month of October

As far as North American hiring companies, the order may have changed in some instances, but the landscape largely remains the same.  The big tech giants make their appearance with Apple lapping the field when it comes to hiring and Amazon and Google coming in at fifth and sixth.  Here you also see a strong showing from banks and financial services, (Deloitte and Capital One).  

Interestingly enough Booz Allen Hamilton, an American government and military contractor, specializing in intelligence occupies the second spot, and has done so in the two previous months.  In addition, Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace, arms, defense, information security, and technology corporation has found its way into the top ten.  It looks like US intelligence agencies are looking to recruit.  (No comment).  

Top 10 companies hiring in North America by Job Count

I should also add that when we take in only this month, the North American jobs landscape remains largely unchanged.  Other than some shifting positions within the top 10, Velocity Black, a digital concierge company with a proprietary platform that was just recently acquired by Capital One, essentially pushed out Na Oiwi Kane.

Top 10 Companies Hiring in North America for October

Given all this, and working off my introductory statement about the demand for LLM related projects, let’s finally take a look at what these companies are looking for in terms of skills, and how similar the Toronto market is compared to the rest of North America.

Question:  What are the Most Sought After Skills this Month

Given all this, and working off my introductory statement about the demand for LLM related projects, let’s finally take a look at what these companies are looking for in terms of skills, and how similar the Toronto market is compared to the rest of North America.

I’ll leave you to peruse the subtle differences between the various job types across the Toronto and North American market, but taking a look at the deman for LLMs specifically, it’s kind of mixed bag.  

In the Toronto DS chart, LLMs appear in the top 15 tech tools.  And when you combine that with the demand for NLP, which these days is often one and the same with LLMs Toronto has a larger demand when it comes to the North American market, at least in terms of the relative frequency by which these skills are listed.

However, when you look at the ML charts, NLP does have a strong presence, but there is no mention of LLMs, whereas both are definitely listed in the North American market.

In the end,who knows how different job markets and employers are sorting out which position does what with respect to LLMs and NLP.  I guess we’ll just have to monitor how this plays out over a longer period of time.

Toronto’s Data Science Game: A Score Update

In sum, Toronto definitely continues to surprise. In this month’s update, we revisited the bustling Toronto scene, replete with its twists, turns, and a few sports clichés. Our analysis, based on a meager two months of scraped job data, previously painted Toronto as the rising star, outperforming even the data science giants of North America. It secured the third position in job postings, outshining cities like San Francisco, and stood fifth in average salary. But, as the sports adage goes, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over.’

Looking into the third month, the playing field shifted. Toronto still held its ground in job postings, even witnessing a spike in October. However, in the realm of salaries, it faced a dip from fifth to eighth place. With only a fraction of jobs disclosing pay, the salary landscape appeared more uncertain. Yet, Toronto’s resilience and dynamic job market showcase potential for future victories. So, let’s not stash away the celebratory champagne just yet — the game is still on.

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