Data Science vs Machine Learning Consultants: What’s the Difference

While data science and machine learning consultants are often considered one-in-the-same, there are significant distinctions among the two fields. Data science falls under the broader category of computer science and contains machine learning and many other data-related practices. This article will cover some of the frequent questions about data science and machine learning consultant services, offerings, and cost. 

What’s the difference between data science and machine learning?

One of the most common questions we hear is regarding the difference between data science and machine learning. No surprise, both terms are increasingly common in boardrooms and business meetings across the country. Fortunately, the distinction between the two is simple to understand.

Data science is a broad field that encompasses machine learning, as well as other data-related disciplines. On the other hand, machine learning is a specific field focused on developing algorithms that continually make predictions and optimizations automatically to enhance performance. The primary difference between the two is that data science encompasses every aspect of data processing, while machine learning deals exclusively with machine-based mathematical models.

What does a data science consultant do?

Data science consultants work with clients in leveraging technology, processes, and data to help solve business problems and boost performance. Data science consultants can provide a wide range of assistance to businesses of all sizes and across industries. Services and deliverables from data science consultants can span from a comprehensive data science strategy and implementation to one-on-one training of personnel on the finer details of data analytics. 

What does a machine learning consultant do?

Machine learning consultants are very much like data science consultants. They dive deep into the client’s processes, technology, and industry requirements to solve business problems and create opportunities for growth. Machine learning consultants help clients select and implement analytics tools and machine learning models as well as provide training on interpreting the data.

What is deep learning?

Deep learning is one of the most important and exciting aspects of the broader field of machine learning. Deep learning is artificial intelligence (AI), which uses mathematical models known as neural networks inspired by networks found in the human brain. Neural networks can process data that is both unstructured and unlabeled, and the system can optimize its performance without human comand. Deep learning has many applications, including everything from detecting fraud at financial institutions to identifying pedestrians at crosswalks

What is data mining?

The term data mining is somewhat of a misnomer because data is not the element that’s mined. Data mining is a part of data science that focuses on identifying patterns, connections, correlations, and anomalies in extensive data collections. With insights extracted, data mining aims to enable leaders to focus on business objectives and make smarter decisions faster.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that has evolved steadily since its inception in the early 1950s. Broadly speaking, AI is a type of technology that can mimic characteristics of the human mind and perform tasks associated with human intelligence. 

As ZDNet reports:

“AI systems will typically demonstrate at least some of the following behaviours associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.”

How much do consultants cost?

The rate you should expect to pay for a consultant is dependent on several factors. Considerations include:

  • Services provided
  • Consultant’s experience level
  • Project scope and requirements
  • Result quality expectations
  • Technical and logistical considerations 

You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $200-$400 per hour for an experienced big data consultant. In addition to hourly rates, consultants may also offer a fixed project rate based on the assignment’s scope and the level of effort required.

Data Science Consultant Costs

Expect to pay a higher rate for a qualified data science consultant than other more specialized services such as a database manager or data analyst. Data science consultants offer comprehensive business data solutions and encompass multiple fields of computer science. Data science consultant costs range from $300-$400 per hour.

Machine Learning Consultant Costs

Machine learning consultants cost range considerably depending on the scope and complexity of the individual project. Machine learning solutions can include everything from free chatbots for small businesses to enterprise-level applications requiring an investment of several hundred thousand dollars. For a qualified consultant experienced with machine learning, expect to pay from $250-$350 per hour. 

AI Consultant Costs

AI consultants typically charge based on their background and experience. Because AI can include a wide range of applications, check that your AI consultant’s expertise matches your organization’s needs. Like experienced data science and top-level machine learning consultants, expect to pay between $250-$400 per hour.   

Do I need a data science or machine learning consultant near me?

Having a data science or machine learning consultant near you is beneficial for seamless integration with your analytics team and on-premise data center. However, it may not always be possible to have a consultant on site. When selecting a consultant, we recommend verifying that your preferred provider has an established virtual workflow with a focus on excellent communication from start to finish. At, we work with local and global clients efficiently, and the key is a well-established process and communication plan.

Have questions? Email anytime for a free consultation.


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Operating globally, has 60+ years of combined consulting experience. delivers analytics and data science solutions, which unlock the value of people, process, and technology investments. Leveraging deep knowledge in BFSI, retail analytics, CPG, manufacturing, technology and logistics, we create long lasting value for top companies in the Bay Area and Northern California.