Many people fear that robots and artificial intelligence (AI) systems are going to steal their jobs. To a certain degree, those fears are warranted. According to data from the McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 73 million U.S. jobs could be automated by 2030.
While that’s concerning at a surface level, many people ignore the fact that automation is actually a good thing. It keeps workers out of harmful environments, speeds up production lines, and paves the way for better overall opportunities. Just because robots and AI take over certain jobs doesn’t mean that there won’t be other ones available.
Still, the idea of losing your job to a robot is frightening. That’s why many people are looking for a future-proof position. According to that logic, there’s no better job field to enter than that of artificial intelligence. Even if machines take over countless jobs, humans are still necessary to program the algorithms.
Moreover, jobs in the AI field pay top dollar as companies look for the brightest minds to create tomorrow’s solutions. Whether you’re just getting ready to start your career or are reskilling into a new position, these five AI jobs are the best out there. Here’s how you can get hired into them.
Machine Learning Engineer
At its core, artificial intelligence relies on a technology known as machine learning. It involves carefully crafted algorithms and software platforms that enable the AI to do its job. Of course, those need to be created by someone.
Machine learning engineers are up to the task—and rake in a median salary of $114,000 for their efforts. They are primarily responsible for building and managing these platforms. Those with a background in data science and who are fluent in multiple programming languages are ideal candidates for the role.
A machine learning engineer can expect to work with predictive models, natural language processing, massive datasets, and a variety of other development tools. In terms of education, most companies look for someone with a master’s or doctoral degree in mathematics or computer science.
For individuals without those academic credentials, a position as a regular software developer is a great starting place. This not only lets you gain the programming skills needed, but it also opens the door for valuable experiences with problem-solving and analytical skills.
Data Scientist / Engineer
Anyone familiar with the field of artificial intelligence knows that data trumps all. It is at the heart of every algorithm and application. As such, individuals who know how to work with data are in high demand. Data science is a broad field, but it is closely intertwined with the AI sector due to the similarities between the two.
Those working as data scientists can expect to earn a median salary of $113,000 per year. However, the positions can’t be filled by just anyone. Companies expect that data scientists hold a master’s or doctoral degree in computer science.
It’s worth noting that being a data scientist could be perfect for someone that isn’t as interested in programming from scratch. Individuals in data science roles typically work with Big Data tools like Hive, Hadoop, MapReduce, Pig, and Spark. However, that doesn’t mean that programming isn’t part of the job. In-depth knowledge of languages like Perl, Python, Scala, and SQL is also necessary.
Given the demanding requirements of the job of a data scientist, most people don’t land a position immediately out of school. Those with a multi-year background in a related position are often considered first.
Artificial Intelligence Research Scientist
There can be no advances made in the field of AI without research. As such, AI research scientists are in high demand. Individuals aspiring to fill one of these roles can expect to make a median salary of $77,000 per year. Though that isn’t as lucrative as the two positions mentioned previously, the research world is full of ways to make money.
For instance, a major breakthrough could be worth millions. Likewise, those daring enough to create an AI research firm of their own could be bought out or absorbed into a larger company for millions or even billions of dollars.
AI research scientists need to have expert knowledge of multiple AI disciplines. These include areas like applied mathematics, machine learning, deep learning, and computational statistics. While an advanced degree is typically favorable, many research institutions and companies also value experience in a related field.
Natural Language Processing
Although AI has uses in almost every industry, most consumer-facing products revolve around language. These include everything from chatbots to virtual assistants to video games. Obviously, computers don’t communicate like humans. However, artificial intelligence can bridge the gap between the two with natural language processing. It involves the use of machine learning to teach computers to understand and speak like humans.
It’s also a growing field. Individuals with the skills to land a job in natural language processing should expect annual salaries of around $107,000. An advanced degree in computer science is preferable. Most individuals also seek out additional qualifications specifically related to linguistics and human-computer interfaces.
Business Intelligence Engineer
While being a software engineer is the “sexy” side of computer science, there is also remarkable demand for the less glamorous side. Business intelligence engineers use AI to analyze complex data to identify business trends. These individuals play a key role in helping companies increase their profit margins and efficiency.
Business intelligence engineering jobs typically have a median salary of $81,000. Those interested in pursuing such a position should have strong analytical skills. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues who don’t come from a technical or computer-based background.
Notably, business intelligence engineers don’t often need an advanced degree. Having a bachelor’s degree is typically enough. However, on-the-job experience and certifications are desirable.
As AI continues to branch out into new industries, jobs in this area will become even more plentiful. Those who are able to land a position now will be well-positioned to become industry experts by the end of the decade.