Artificial Intelligence, or AI, or the way in which machines learn and act like people, is big business. AI jobs tend to be well-paid and not all science, science, science. Find out more!
AI, sometimes called “machine intelligence” or “machine learning,” describes computers or other machines which mimic the way human or animal brains (“natural intelligence”) work – for example, the ability to learn or solve problems. AI is one of the fastest growing areas of technology – the number of job postings mentioning “AI” or “machine learning” doubled between 2015 and 2018. There’s also serious money in AI careers for those with the right skills.
Let’s take a look at some of the most in-demand jobs in the AI field right now…
Software refers to the apps, functions and programmes in a computer or machine. For example, I’m writing this right now on Microsoft Word – a piece of software. Other examples of software include video games, anti-virus programmes, and internet browsers such as Firefox. In AI, the software engineers are the people who write and test computer code, developing and building the programmes which will become the “brain” of the machine. They often work closely with Data Scientists, transforming research and knowledge into an end product. There are now Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees in Software Engineering for those looking to get into this line of work.
An experienced AI software engineer can expect to earn upwards of £50,000 a year.
‘Data’ just means information. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a techie type, you use information all the time, whether it’s keeping track of the success of your favourite artists or sports teams, or keeping up to date with the latest products you care about. SAS describes Data Scientists as “part mathematician, part computer-scientist, and part trend-spotter,” and their role is important to both the IT and the business side of AI and machine learning. Their job is to take huge amounts of data and transform it into something usable, by looking for patterns, analysing statistics, and presenting them in a way that makes sense. You’ll need to be a skilled programmer, have a head for numbers, be an expert in statistics, and be able to confidently present your findings to be a Data Scientist.
An experienced Data Scientist can expect to earn between £40,000 and £60,000, with some very senior Data Scientists earning over £100,000.
In many fields, Internships are hard to get – but in the world of technology and AI, they’re in high demand. They’re also one of the best ways in to your chosen field. Internships are entry-level and usually temporary positions which can last anything from a couple of weeks up to a year or more. As an Intern you might work on one project, or you might spend time with colleagues in different departments and job roles, giving you a broader range of experience. Lots of people do an Internship after finishing their Undergraduate degree (or during the holidays while studying) as a way to get some work experience and get a “foot in the door.”
Unfortunately, some Internships are unpaid, though this is getting rarer. Salaries for paid internships vary but most are under £25,000.
Research is the most academic role in the AI field. Researchers are responsible for keeping up to date with the cutting edge developments in artificial intelligence technology and working out how to apply these to real-world situations and problems. They also measure and analyse results and present their findings. Many AI researchers get into the field by doing a PhD or other high-level research degree in their chosen field, and a PhD will be a requirement for many AI Researcher roles – though sometimes a Masters Degree will be enough. You’ll also need programming and possibly engineering skills.
An AI Researcher in academia can expect to earn up to £40,000, and in industry can potentially earn much more.
Intelligence Specialists have a broad role which can look a number of different ways in practice. The thing that they all have in common is that they are experts in human and machine intelligence, and use this knowledge to help develop new AI programmes and use AI to solve problems. Most Intelligence Specialists will have Masters Degrees or PhDs in fields like Computer Science or Cognitive Science. They will also be experienced programmers and probably have a background in data or systems analysis.
An experienced Intelligence Specialist can expect to earn up to £50,000.
A consultant is a person who is an expert on their topic and gives advice. An AI Consultant advises businesses and other organisations on the best ways to use artificial intelligence or machine learning to achieve the best for their business. This might involve helping clients use AI to get more value from their data, develop a new cutting-edge product, or streamline their processes to work more effectively. A consultant must be a true expert and will usually have many years of experience in related areas of work – for example, someone might move from a research or software engineering role into consulting.
An experienced AI Consultant can earn between £50,000 and £100,000.
AI Data Analyst
Data analysts are responsible for taking huge amounts of raw data and processing it to transform it into something useful. Data Analysts will need plenty of knowledge and experience of statistics, and likely programming experience as well. Data Analysts might eventually go on to become Data Scientists and they will certainly work closely together.
A Data Analyst can earn up to £40,000 depending on experience, and occasionally more.
Machine Learning Engineer
Machine Learning Engineers are in charge of creating the programmes and algorithms (an algorithm is a step-by-step process a machine takes to solve a problem) that AI systems need to learn. In other words, they teach the computer how to learn and do what it needs to do without being programmed by a person every time. You’ll need to have a strong understanding of programming, data systems, algorithms and mathematics.
A graduate Machine Learning Engineer can expect to earn around £35,000, rising to as much as £50,000 with experience.
Sales Engineering is a crossover between a sales job and an engineering job. Sales Engineers use their strong technical knowledge of their product to sell it effectively. So an AI Sales Engineer might be responsible for selling their company’s machine learning system to other businesses through an in-depth knowledge of what it does and why it is useful. This kind of role suits someone who is technically-minded but also a people-person with a flair for customer service. To succeed as a Sales Engineer you need to be a great presenter and amazing at building relationships as well as a strong understanding of your market or customer base.
A new Sales Engineer can expect to earn £25,000 – £35,000, rising to £45,000 or more with experience.
A Product Manager oversees the development of a product – such as a new AI or machine learning programme – from beginning to end. They will work with members of many other teams, including Data Scientists and Software Engineers, Product Managers have to think of everything: who is the product for? What does it need to do? How much will it cost? What skills do we need to make it happen? It is up to them to make sure that the product is finished on time and within budget. A good Product Manager needs strong technical knowledge but also great people-skills, as part of their role is keeping everyone involved in the project on track.
A Product Manager can expect to make between £35,000 and £40,000.
As you can see, if you’re interested in AI and machine learning, there are many fascinating career paths potentially open to you. Where do you want to go?
See more about AI careers and ways into AI jobs for young people on Youth Employment UK.