How to Become an AI Engineer

What is artificial intelligence? In short, it’s a digital mechanism by which machine based intelligence systems are programmed to think and mimic the actions of humans for the purpose of self-executing activities and problem solving. 

AI engineers build and train artificial intelligence models. This article explains outlines a suggested path on how to become an AI engineer and includes skills that can help you enter this exciting field. 

Why Study Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly developing scientific field that’s impacted many fields. It aims to transform how people think, learn,and work in various fields, from medical discovery to finance. 

The realm of AI is vast with applications to many emerging innovations and fields, including driverless vehicles, biometrics, machine learning, speech recognition, deep learning and text analysis. Pursuing relevant educational programs and work experience can prepare you to enter this field. 

According to the World Economic forum, demand for AI professionals is expected to grow by 33% by 2022. As a result, individuals may choose to pursue a short course of study for the purpose of achieving more knowledge of the AI space. 

How Long Does it Take to Become an Artificial Intelligence Engineer?

Based on the World Economic Forum’s findings, the need for AI professionals is expected to continue rising. Gaining relevant skills can help prepare you to become an AI engineer. However, acquiring the requisite education, skills and work experience can be a lengthy process. 

According to Springboard, a provider of online courses, gaining entry into this field typically requires a base knowledge of:

  • Computer programming
  • Cognitive science
  • Robotics
  • Math
  • Engineering
  • Physics

Springboard notes one caveat to this lengthy educational path: If you’re currently a software engineer, you may be able to fast track into the artificial intelligence field by taking a few AI-targeted courses through a traditional college or online program. 

Artificial Intelligence Education Requirements

According to Intellipaat, a provider of online machine learning and programming courses, entry-level opportunities in the artificial intelligence field typically require a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, statistics, data science or related field. For more advanced work in the profession, a master’s or PhD in one of these disciplines may be required. 

Having strong quantitative skills, including competency in statistics and mathematics, could be beneficial in an AI engineer career. Additionally, an AI professional should demonstrate programming language proficiency in one or more of these common computer languages: 

  • Python
  • Java
  • C++

Beyond education requirements, the following are important skills in the profession:

  • Critical thinking and collaborative skills: A big part of your AI role will involve using data as a problem solving tool. This will require good communication and teamwork skills to effectively report findings. 
  • Analytical skills: Successful AI engineers are adroit with numbers. This requires an ability to engage in analytical thought processes as well as successfully engage with key stakeholders. 
  • Business savviness: Having an ability to connect the dots between the practical world of business and the dynamics of the artificial intelligence model can aid AI engineers. 

3 Steps To Becoming An Artificial Intelligence Engineer

When considering becoming an artificial intelligence engineer, it can be helpful to think about whether or not you want to be heavily involved in AI research. If so, then a course of study in mathematics, computer science, or data science followed by a master’s or PhD in AI could be a beneficial route. 

However, if you aspire for a more hands-on AI role in business, then a bachelor’s degree or an online AI certificate or course may be your best option. 

Though everyone’s career journey is different below are three potential steps for how to become an AI engineer.

1. Gain Necessary Education

The first commin step in launching a career in artificial intelligence is to obtain a relevant academic credential. At least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, data science, engineering, physics, mathematics, statistics or another quantitative subject is generally required. Certifications in AI or data science may also help you meet educational requirements and gain technical knowledge. In some cases, a master’s degree may be a prerequisite. 

2. Develop Technical Skills

Another vital step on your AI career progression is the strengthening of your software development and programming skills. This includes having a solid grasp of programming languages (Python, R, Java, C++), statistical techniques, math, applied algorithms, linguistic processing and deep learning systems. 

3. Choose a Specialization and Earn Certifications

Over the course of your preparatory journey to becoming an AI Engineer, hone in on one or two areas of specialization. One of the exciting aspects of AI is the broad spectrum of subfields to consider, such as data science, robotics, machine learning and biomedical research. As you develop your specialty, consider earning certifications to boost your career marketability. 

Skills Artificial Intelligence Experts Use Every Day

Artificial intelligence is a fairly scientific field. The quest to mimic the human brain using machines requires specialized knowledge. Therefore, the skills employed by artificial intelligence professionals on a daily basis will vary depending on the specific endeavor you’re engaged in.

For example, consider these AI engineer careers and the accompanying skills:

  • AI academic researcher: An artificial intelligence academic researcher might need strong hypothesizing skills to come up with new or unique ways to test machines’ real-world feasibility. 
  • AI algorithm developer: This professional might be tasked with transforming AI research into mathematical models that can be implemented through hardware and software. This may require a high level of problem-solving skills and creativity.
  • Software developers and computer scientists: These professionals are regularly tasked with scripting pieces of software for analyzing, interpreting and making decisions. Analytical skills and attention to detail are possible skills they’d use daily.

There isn’t a standard canvas for what an AI expert’s typical day will look like. Depending on your role, the required skills will vary.

Why Become an AI Expert?

As technology advances, demand for professionals who offer AI expertise to emerging business and enterprises will likely increase. Because of this, the earning potential of these professionals could also be promising. AI expertise could also lead to careers in various fields. From driverless cars to fraud detection protocols, AI is involved in many impactful advances. By studying artificial intelligence, you can contribute to these causes.

Artificial Intelligence Careers and Salaries

In accord with the laws of supply and demand, talented individuals with the requisite education in AI could be highly sought after for AI careers. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t directly report on artificial intelligence careers, it does provide information related to computer and information technology occupations as a whole. 

According to the BLS, employment of computer and IT occupations is expected to increase 12% from 2018 to 2028, which is considerably faster than the BLS-reported average 5% growth rate for all occupations. That’s equivalent to about 546,200 new jobs. The BLS notes that this demand will be driven by cloud computing, big data and information security trends. The 2019 median salary of these professionals was $88,240.

According the BLS list of computer and IT occupations, here are some potential AI careers you may consider:

If you’re ready to pursue a future in AI engineering, explore our list of AI careers to find a job that aligns with your skills and interests. 

Last Updated August 2020