These days, it seems you can't go anywhere without hearing about machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to name a single industry that hasn't been affected by AI to at least some degree in 2023.
If you're still trying to figure out what you want to do with your future career and you have a general interest in computer science and technology, it may be time to consider a career that allows you to explore the inner workings of AI. With a growing number of available jobs in artificial intelligence, the possibilities are nearly endless.
So, what exactly does a career in AI entail and how can you know whether this type of work is right for you? We're diving into the ins and outs of this exciting career path, along with some of the best entry-level AI positions you may be able to explore after completing a data science or computer science degree program.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): Does It Make a Strong Career?
Working in machine learning or artificial intelligence is a strong career choice for people who are detail-oriented, enjoy working with computers or data, and are able to keep up with the fast-paced environment inherent to this industry.
Meanwhile, because AI capabilities are pervading every industry imaginable, there are diverse job opportunities almost everywhere you look. No matter where your specific interests lie or what type of AI work you want to do, there's likely a career path out there that suits your needs and knacks.
Consider, too, that people working in AI tend to make competitive salaries. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, the median pay for computer and information research scientists is more than $136,000 per year.
Is a Career in AI in Demand?
If you're looking for a career path with plenty of job opportunities and high levels of demand and job security, the AI realm is an excellent choice. According to BLS data, the overall field of computer and information research science is projected to grow by 23 percent between 2022 and 2032 alone, which is much faster than the national average for all other occupations. Additionally, in a World Economic Forum report from 2020, AI and machine learning specialists ranked second on a list of jobs with the most increasing demand.
What Entry-Level Artificial Intelligence (AI) Careers Can You Pursue?
So, what kinds of entry-level positions can you actually pursue in artificial intelligence? Ultimately, the jobs for which you qualify would depend on your credentials (including any formal degrees and certifications you may have). However, some common entry-level positions that involve AI are covered below.
Junior Software Engineer
In the realm of AI, software engineers are needed regularly to handle just about everything from writing code to managing quality control to developing software that data architects and data scientists use to do their jobs. Typically, companies looking to hire junior software engineers for AI or machine learning will be seeking people with considerable programming experience as well as strong attention to detail and excellent analytical and problem-solving skills. This type of work can be a great choice for those who enjoy highly technical tasks that often involve a lot of coding or programming.
Machine Learning Engineer
Another career path to consider in the AI world is that of a machine learning engineer. These are the professionals companies turn to when they need to create data science models that can be used to process incredible amounts of data at a single time. They are responsible for combining their knowledge of data science, software engineering, and programming frameworks to create game-changing technologies.
Those interested in working as machine learning engineers would need to be proficient in programming languages including Python, Scala, and Java. They'll also need to have a solid understanding of commonly used software development tools and machine learning concepts in order to thrive in this context.
Junior Data Scientist
In general, the field of AI (and its continued success) hinges on the ability to collect, process, and interpret enormous amounts of data at once. With this in mind, the demand for skilled data scientists has been at an all-time high with the increase in AI usage. If you're the type of person who likes working with large amounts of data and gaining new insights from it, then a junior data scientist position may be right for you.
In this line of work, you'd be responsible for the processes and algorithms used to analyze and interpret data as well as presenting your findings. To work as a data scientist in AI, you'll be expected to have strong knowledge in programming, statistical analysis, computer science, and mathematics.
Business Intelligence Developer
More often and recently, businesses hire business intelligence developers as a means of detecting trends in complex data sets. This type of work is somewhat similar to that of a data analyst, with the major differentiator being that business intelligence developers handle the modeling and designing of the data itself. The people best suited for these roles have experience in data design and solid analytical skills.
Junior Data Engineer
If you enjoy working with data, another possible career to consider in AI is becoming a junior data engineer. Many companies hire junior data engineers as entry-level professionals who handle the design, maintenance, and optimization of various data models and infrastructures. Essentially, they translate large amounts of data into more readily usable formats for data scientists and other professionals.
AI Research Scientist
If you're less interested in the data aspect of AI and more in the research side, working as an AI research scientist may be right up your alley. These professionals still need a solid understanding of the ins and outs of machine learning and data science, but they work in more creative capacities where they test the capabilities of AI and pose questions that will help grow the scope of this field.
Entry-Level Robotics Engineer
The field of robotics has been around for decades, and many would consider this the earliest form of artificial intelligence that is still used today. If you're interested in this AI niche, many companies are hiring entry-level robotics engineers to assist with everything from building and maintaining AI-powered robots to developing and optimizing the software they use. This can be an excellent career path for those who want to make a difference using robotics technology.
Deep Learning Engineer
Working as a deep learning engineer means you'll be more focused on machine learning models to create new AI-powered systems. Generally, deep learning engineers work in a team setting with other software engineers, data scientists, and experts to develop and optimize AI products before they are released to the public. To be successful as a deep learning engineer, you'll need to be proficient in common computer programming languages and possess strong analytical skills.
Computer Vision Engineer
If you desire to work specifically with visual data, then don't overlook the possibility of working as a computer vision engineer. These specific types of engineers work with visual data including video feeds, analog images, and other signals that are fed into a computer and digitized. Computer vision engineers are then responsible for taking this data and integrating it into machine learning systems to come up with new solutions that solve real-world problems.
Big Data Engineer/Architect
Big data engineers and architects are regularly hired by companies and organizations to help process and interpret enormous amounts of information, often using platforms such as Spark and Hadoop. These professionals usually have a background in computer science, information science, or mathematics and are heavily involved in the planning and designing of new systems.
AI companies hire software architects to help them design, maintain, and optimize all the systems and tools related to their work. They handle everything from planning and implementing the right solutions to ensuring that data flows smoothly from one place to the next while meeting certain technical standards. Many employers also look for software architects with some hands-on experience in statistical analysis or cloud platforms, so this is something to keep in mind if you're interested in this type of work.
Junior Data Analyst
In the world of AI, today's data analysts prepare data to be used in machine learning models. From there, they are also turned to for reports and interpretations of the results. Working as a junior data analyst may be an entry-level gig, but it does require a robust understanding of programming languages (like Python and SQL) as well as analytics and data visualization tools. These professionals play a crucial role not only in analyzing the data that is fed through machine learning systems but also in preparing and presenting reports from these models.
Artificial Intelligence: Job Outlook
No matter which of these positions you're most interested in, the job outlook for those working in AI remains promising. As noted above, the BLS predicts more than 8,000 new jobs to open up in computer and information research science by 2023.
While more AI innovations emerge and as more companies begin adopting these technologies, there will only be a greater need for experienced and knowledgeable AI professionals. This will include people who know how to make sense of large amounts of data, use algorithms to interpret and analyze information, and shape the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.
How to Start a Career in Artificial Intelligence
If you're interested in pursuing careers in AI, the most important thing to keep in mind is that most firms hiring for these positions prefer candidates holding a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, data science, or a similar field. This is the case for most entry-level positions. However, some positions may even require a master’s degree in a related field.
There are many reasons this is the case, the main one being that working with AI requires a high-level understanding of computer programming languages; these languages are difficult to learn on your own, so having completed a formal degree program assures employers that you know the ropes.
At University of the Cumberlands, we offer a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology that is an ideal starting point for those wanting to break into AI-related fields. In this degree program, you could learn all about cloud computing, systems management, computer programming, and other essential knowledge to find success in an AI-related field.