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10 Awesome & High-Paying AI Careers to Pursue in 2021
Data Science

10 Awesome & High-Paying AI Careers to Pursue in 2024

17 minute read | January 3, 2024
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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Thanks to the AI boom, artificial intelligence is here and has opened up possibilities for the future. From space exploration to melanoma detection, to interpreting audio and visual data, it is making waves across industries, making impossible things possible. If you are hunting for an AI job, you are in luck. AI engineers have never been in more demand.

Almost every business need AI engineers to interpret business and market trends, clean raw data, build AI tools, and use the AI boom to their advantage. If you are a software engineer, computer vision engineer, or business intelligence developer, you will need to add AI tools, machine learning systems and skills to your repertoire sooner rather than later. You can also create software using machine learning algorithms to be used in the field.

As a result, there has also been a steady growth in artificial intelligence careers—LinkedIn puts artificial intelligence practitioners among the ‘jobs on the rise’ in 2021. In this blog post, we explore the ten awesome and high-paying artificial intelligence careers you can pursue in 2021 and beyond.

The Thriving World of AI Jobs

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the world, creating exciting opportunities in various industries. From healthcare and finance to manufacturing and entertainment, AI is revolutionizing how we live, work, and interact with technology. This surge in AI adoption translates to a booming job market with a high demand for skilled professionals.

Unpacking AI Jobs

The AI job market encompasses a wide range of roles, each requiring a unique blend of skills and knowledge. Examples of AI jobs include: 

  • Artificial Intelligence Engineer: Design, develop, and implement AI systems and algorithms. They collaborate with data scientists, software engineers, and other specialists to bring AI solutions to life. They earn an average salary of $150,000 per year. 
  • Software Engineer: Build and maintain the software infrastructure that supports AI systems. They possess strong programming skills and expertise in cloud computing and distributed systems. An AI software engineer earns an average salary of $147,000 per year
  • Data Scientist: Collect, analyze, and interpret data to train and improve AI models. They have a strong understanding of statistics, machine learning techniques, and data visualization tools. They earn an average salary of $124,000 per annum
  • Computer Vision Engineer: Develop algorithms and systems that enable computers to understand and interpret visual data. They have expertise in image processing, computer graphics, and deep learning.
  • Information Research Scientists: Conduct research on AI algorithms, theories, and applications. They contribute to the advancement of AI knowledge and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

To thrive in the AI job market, you’ll need a combination of hard skills (technical knowledge) and soft skills (personal qualities): 

Technical Skills:

  • Machine learning techniques: Understanding of algorithms like linear regression, decision trees, and deep learning is crucial.
  • Programming languages: Proficiency in languages like Python, R, and Java is essential for data analysis and model development.
  • Statistical models: Knowledge of statistical concepts and methods is necessary for data analysis and interpretation.
  • Data sets: Familiarity with working with different types of data sets and data wrangling techniques is valuable.
  • Linear algebra: A branch of mathematics used in many AI algorithms and machine learning models.

Soft Skills:

  • Problem-solving skills: The ability to identify and solve complex problems using AI approaches is highly sought-after.
  • Communication skills: Effectively communicating technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences is crucial.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: AI projects often involve collaboration with diverse teams, necessitating strong interpersonal skills.

Education and Training for AI Jobs

While a bachelor’s degree in computer science is often the minimum requirement for many AI jobs, a master’s degree or relevant bootcamp certifications can give you a competitive edge. Several universities and online platforms offer specialized programs in AI, data science, and machine learning. You can also look at undergraduate degrees and bachelor’s degrees relevant to AI, such as computer science, mathematics, or statistics.

Job Market and Salary Expectations

The AI job market is experiencing rapid growth, with new jobs emerging constantly. The average salary for AI jobs is generally higher than other tech professions, mentioned five times each. According to Indeed, the average base salary for AI engineers in the US is $142,614, while data scientists earn an average of $120,449. These figures can vary depending on experience, location, and specific job role.

The field of AI is still in its early stages, with many new jobs and career paths yet to be defined. As AI technology continues to evolve, the demand for skilled professionals will only grow. If you’re passionate about technology, solving problems, and making a real impact, a career in AI could be the perfect fit for you.

You’ll also work with a number of different professions and different job roles: 

  • Product managers: Product managers are responsible for defining the vision and roadmap for AI-powered products.
  • UX designers: A UX designer designs user interfaces and experiences for AI-powered systems.
  • AI research professionals: These teams are devoted to the ongoing exploration and development of new AI technologies and applications.

There are dozens of employers across many industries posting jobs in AI, including  tech giants, startups, and research institutions.

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) a Good Career?

Yes, because:

  • Artificial intelligence jobs are plenty, hiring growing by 32% in the last couple of years
  • There is a high talent gap—not enough qualified artificial intelligence (AI) applicants for vacant positions
  • Artificial intelligence professionals like AI engineers, natural language processing engineers and research scientists and other data-related fields earn top salaries, with an average salary well north of $100,000
  • As a rapidly evolving industry, growth opportunities in Artificial intelligence careers are diverse
  • Artificial intelligence careers are flexible—you could be a freelancer, consultant, researcher, practitioner, machine learning engineer, computer vision engineer, or even build your own AI products.
  • Artificial intelligence jobs are not only in hot demand, but a great opportunity to enter a number of fields and industries. You can apply the programming languages and machine learning techniques you pick up in a number of fields.
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Are AI Jobs in High Demand?

The current Artificial intelligence (AI) job outlook is quite promising. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects computer science and information technology employment to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029. This will add about 531,200 new jobs in the industry, with a higher than average salary to draw candidates. This, it appears, is a conservative estimate. ‘AI and Machine Learning Specialists’ is the second on the list of jobs with increasing demand as per the World Economic Forum. You may need a bachelor’s degree in computer science to enter the field, but if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you can still land an entry-level AI job.

As the industry matures, jobs in Artificial intelligence (AI) will not only grow in number but also complexity and diversity. This will open doors for various Artificial intelligence (AI) professionals—junior, senior, researchers, statisticians, practitioners, experimental scientists, etc. The outlook for ethical AI is also looking up.

What Do You Do In a Career in AI?

A career in AI offer a gateway to a dynamics, stimulating domain, providing opportunities to make a tangible impact on the world.

Machine learning engineers, the architects of AI systems, design and build intelligent algorithms that learn from data, enabling machines to adapt and make decisions. Their work involves developing and implementing machine learning models, utilizing advanced programming languages such as Python and R, and leveraging AI tools like TensorFlow and PyTorch.

Data scientists, the custodians of information, collect, analyze, and interpret vast datasets, extracting meaningful insights that fuel AI development. They possess strong technical skills in data mining, statistical analysis, and visualization, employing deep learning frameworks like Keras and PyTorch to build predictive models.

AI research scientists, the pioneers of the field, explore the frontiers of artificial intelligence, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. They conduct cutting-edge research in deep learning, AI engineering, and advanced software, developing novel algorithms and techniques that enhance the capabilities of AI systems.

A career in AI demands a strong foundation in computer science, mathematics, and statistics. A master’s degree or equivalent experience in a relevant field is often required, providing in-depth technical expertise and exposure to the latest advancements.

Beyond technical skills, soft skills are equally crucial for success in the AI realm. Effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities enable AI professionals to bridge the gap between human intelligence and complex technology.

AI engineering, a multifaceted discipline, encompasses the design, development, and implementation of AI solutions. Artificial intelligence engineers possess a strong background in computer science, robotics engineering, and electrical engineering, enabling them to tackle the intricate challenges of building intelligent systems.

AI jobs span a wide spectrum, catering to diverse interests and skill sets. From machine learning engineers and data scientists to AI research scientists and AI engineers, the field offers a plethora of opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to the advancement of artificial intelligence.

As AI continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, the demand for skilled professionals is skyrocketing. AI jobs are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying in the tech industry, offering competitive salaries and promising career prospects.

Whether you’re drawn to the intricacies of machine learning, fascinated by the power of data analysis, or intrigued by the limitless potential of AI, a career in this transformative field promises intellectual stimulation, personal growth, and the opportunity to shape the future of technology.

What Artificial intelligence (AI) Careers Can You Pursue?

Despite being a new and niche field, careers in artificial intelligence aren’t homogenous. Within AI, there are various kinds of jobs needing specific skills and experience. Let us look at the top ten one by one.

1. Machine Learning Engineer

Machine learning engineers are at the intersection of software engineering and data science. They leverage big data tools and programming frameworks to create production-ready scalable data science models that can handle terabytes of real-time data.

Machine learning engineer jobs are best for anyone with a background that combines data science, applied research, and software engineering. AI jobs seek applicants with strong mathematical skills, experience in machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and cloud applications, and programming skills in Java, Python, and Scala. It also helps to be well-versed in software development IDE tools like Eclipse and IntelliJ. You will probably need a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field.

The average salary of a machine learning engineer in the US is $​​1,31,000. Organizations like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., pay significantly higher—in the average salary range of $170,000 to $200,000. Read more about ML engineer salaries here.

2. Data Scientist

ai careers:

Data scientists collect raw data, analyze it, and glean insights for a wide range of purposes. They use various technology tools, processes, and algorithms to extract knowledge from data and identify meaningful patterns. This could be as basic as identifying anomalies in time-series data or complex as predicting future events and making recommendations. The primary qualifications expected of a data scientist are:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Advanced degree in statistics, mathematics, computer science, etc.
  • Understanding of unstructured data and statistical analysis
  • Experience with cloud tools like Amazon S3 and the Hadoop platform
  • Programming skills with Python, Perl, Scala, SQL, etc.
  • Working knowledge of Hive, Hadoop, MapReduce, Pig, Spark, etc.

The average salary of a data scientist is $105,000. With experience, the average salary can go up to $200,000 for a director of data science position.

3. Business Intelligence Developer

Business intelligence (BI) developers process complex internal and external data to identify trends. For instance, in a financial services company, this could be someone monitoring stock market data to help make investment decisions. In a product company, this could be someone monitoring sales trends to inform distribution strategy.

However, unlike an analyst, business intelligence developers don’t create the reports themselves. They are typically responsible for designing, modeling, and maintaining complex data in highly accessible cloud-based data platforms for business users to use the dashboards. The qualifications expected of a BI developer are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, or a related field
  • Hands-on experience in data warehouse design, data mining, SQL, etc.
  • Familiarity with BI technologies like Tableau, Power BI, etc.
  • Strong technical and analytical skills

Business intelligence developers earn an average salary of $86,500, going up to an average salary of $130,000 with experience.

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4. Research Scientist

The research scientist role is one of the most academically-driven AI careers. They ask new and creative questions to be answered by AI. They are experts in multiple disciplines in artificial intelligence, including mathematics, machine learning, deep learning, and statistics. Like data scientists, researchers are expected to have a doctoral degree in computer science.

Hiring organizations expect research scientists to have extensive knowledge and experience in computer perception, graphical models, reinforcement learning, and natural language processing. Knowledge of benchmarking, parallel computing, distributed computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are a plus.

Research scientists are in high demand and command an average salary of $99,800, although the average salary may vary.

5. Big Data Engineer/Architect

ai careers: Big Data Engineer/Architect

Big data engineering professionals and architects develop ecosystems that enable various business verticals and technologies to communicate effectively. Compared to data scientists, this role can feel more involved, as engineers and architects typically are tasked with planning, designing, and developing big data environments on Hadoop and Spark systems.

Most companies prefer professionals with a Ph.D. in mathematics, computer science, or related fields. However, as a more practical role than that of, say, a research scientist or AI engineer, hands-on experience is often treated as a good substitute for a lack of advanced degrees. Big data engineers are expected to have programming skills in C++, Java, Python, or Scala. They also need to have experience in data mining, data visualization, and data migration.

Big data engineers are among the best-paid roles in artificial intelligence, with an average salary of $151,300. Your average salary may vary across industries though.

6. Software Engineer

AI software engineers build software products for AI applications. They bring together development tasks like writing code, continuous integration, quality control, API management, etc., for AI tasks. They develop and maintain the software that data scientists and architects use. They stay informed and updated about new artificial intelligence technologies.

An AI software engineer is expected to be skilled in software engineering and artificial intelligence. They need to have programming skills as statistical/analytical skills. Companies typically look for a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, or statistics. To land a job as an AI software engineer, certifications in AI or data science are helpful too.

The average salary of a software engineer is $108,000. This goes up to an average salary of $150,000 based on your specialization, experience, and industry.

7. Software Architect

ai careers:

Software architects design and maintain systems, tools, platforms, and technical standards. AI software architects do this for artificial intelligence technology. They create and maintain AI architecture, plan and implement solutions, choose the toolkit, and ensure a smooth data flow.

AI-driven companies expect their software architects to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or software engineering. As a practical role, experience is as important as educational qualification. Hands-on experience with cloud platforms, data processes, software development, statistical analysis, etc., will place you in good stead.

Software architects earn an average salary of $150,000. Your average salary can go up significantly with expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.

8. Data Analyst

For a long time, the data analyst was someone who collected, cleaned, processed and analyzed data to glean insights. For the most part, these used to be mundane, repetitive tasks. With the rise of AI, much of the mundane work has been automated. Therefore, the analyst role has upgraded to join the new set of AI careers. Today, data analysts prepare data for machine learning models and build meaningful reports based on the results.

As a result, an AI data analyst needs to know more than just spreadsheets. They need to be skilled in:

  • SQL and other database languages to extract/process data
  • Python for cleansing and analysis
  • Analytics dashboards and visualization tools like Tableau, PowerBI, etc.
  • Business intelligence to understand the market and organizational context

A data analyst earns an average salary of $65,000. However, high-technology companies like Facebook, Google, etc., pay in excess of $100,000 average salary for data analyst roles.

9. Robotics Engineer

The robotics engineer is perhaps one of the first of AI careers, when industrial robots were gaining popularity as early as the 1950s. From the assembly lines to teaching English, robotics has come a long way. Healthcare uses robot-assisted surgeries. Humanoid robots are being built to be personal assistants. A robotics engineer’s job is to make all this and more happen.

Robotics engineers build and maintain AI-powered robots. For such roles, organizations typically expect advanced degrees in engineering, computer science, or similar. In addition to machine learning and AI qualifications, robotics engineers might also be expected to understand CAD/CAM, 2D/3D vision systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc.

The average salary of a robotics engineer is $87,000, which can go up to an average salary of $130,000 with experience and specialization.

10. NLP Engineer

Natural Language Processing (NLP) engineers are AI professionals who specialize in human language, including spoken and written information. The engineers who work on voice assistants, speech recognition, document processing, etc., use NLP technology. For the role of an NLP engineer, organizations expect a specialized degree in computational linguistics. They might also be willing to consider applicants with a qualification in computer science, mathematics, or statistics.

In addition to general statistical analysis and computational skills, an NLP engineer would need skills in semantic extraction techniques, data structures, modeling, n-grams, a bag of words, sentiment analysis, etc. Experience with Python, ElasticSearch, web development, etc., could be helpful.

The average salary of an NLP engineer is $78,000, going up to an average salary of over $100,000 with experience.

Which Industries Are Hiring AI Professionals?

There are over 15,000 jobs in AI listed on LinkedIn today. Organizations across a wide range of industries are hiring. The industry with the most number of open AI careers appears to be technology with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Adobe, IBM, Intel, etc. hiring for AI roles.

Closely following this are also consulting majors such as PWC, KPMG, Accenture, etc. Healthcare organizations are hiring more—GlaxoSmithKline has multiple open AI-related positions. Retail players like Walmart and Amazon and media companies like Warner and Bloomberg are also hiring.

AI Careers FAQs

Can You Get Into AI With No Experience?

As a practical field, the defining factor of an AI professional is their ability to execute projects. This can only come from experience. So, you need to have hands-on experience to land a job in AI, even if not exactly corporate work experience. For instance, Springboard’s Data Science Career Track includes 14 real-world projects to get you comfortable with applying AI to business challenges.

What Skills Do You Need To Land an Entry-Level AI Position?

Not all AI positions are the same. As you see from the list above, different roles might need different skills/experiences. However, nearly all entry-level roles will expect:

  • Graduate degree in computer science, mathematics, or statistics
  • Familiarity with Python and SQL
  • Knowledge of data analysis, processing, and visualization
  • Understanding of cloud technologies
  • Business acumen about the industry, market, competition, etc.

Do You Need a Degree To Work in Artificial Intelligence?

Most job descriptions online will expect at least a bachelor’s degree. However, as we mentioned above, the talent gap is growing. Organizations can no longer reject employees without a college degree if they have demonstrable skills and experience in artificial intelligence.

How To Work in Artificial Intelligence?

A career in AI is unlike most technology jobs that are available today. As an evolving field, AI jobs demand professionals to stay informed of advancements and update themselves regularly. It is no longer enough to just gain skills, AI/ML professionals need to track the latest research and understand new algorithms on a regular basis.

Moreover, AI is coming under immense social and regulatory scrutiny. AI professionals need to look beyond just the technical aspects of AI and pay attention to its social, cultural, political, and economic impact.

Do I Really Need a Degree in Computer Science to Work in Artificial Intelligence?

Most companies will require a degree (as above), but if you have excellent knowledge in programming languages and machine learning techniques, you may be able to secure a role without one. However, it’s very hard to gain this knowledge on your own!

What Factors Impact The Average Salary of a AI Professional?

Your average salary will be impacted by your experience and qualifications. Your average salary could also be impacted by your location, e.g. the average salary of an AI professional in San Francisco will be much higher than the average salary of an AI professional in rural Ohio.

What Are The Career Opportunities In the AI Field Like?

There are plenty of lucrative career opportunities in the AI field, and many exciting AI roles on offer. AI professionals work in nearly every industry, from health care to government to large and small tech companies. If you choose this career path, you can choose from AI jobs like:

  • Machine learning engineer: A machine learning engineer designs, builds and deploys powerful algorithms that learn from data to solve real-world problems.
  • Data scientist: This data professional explores and analyzes data sets to identify business problems, patterns and trends, guiding informed decision-making and solving real-world problems. What kind of data does a data scientist collect? The possibilities in data analytics are endless. 
  • Software engineer: Software engineers create software applications, ensuring functionality, performance, and user experience.
  • NLP engineer: An NLP engineer develops systems that understand and process human language, enabling computers to communicate and interact, e.g. like virtual assistants and chatbots.
  • Business intelligence developer: This professional creates tools and dashboards to turn raw data into actionable insights for businesses.
  • Robotics engineer: This engineer designs, builds, and programs robots and robotic systems to perform tasks in the real world.
  • AI engineer: This engineer applies AI principles and techniques to develop intelligent AI systems and solve complex problems. There is a demand for this role in nearly every industry.
  • AI research scientist: An AI research scientist pushes the boundaries of AI knowledge, exploring new algorithms, methods, and applications, developing new machine learning systems, and pushing the envelope of data analytics. 

There is a huge demand for these roles across many industries. No matter which role you pursue, your job outlook will always be rosy if you choose this career path. 

What Role Does AI Play in Health Care?

AI is revolutionizing health care. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms analyze medical images and data to assist doctors in diagnosing diseases, predicting patient outcomes, and recommending personalized treatment plans. Imagine AI analyzing X-rays and mammograms to detect abnormalities with superhuman accuracy, aiding doctors in early cancer detection. (AI) is rapidly transforming health care, playing a multifaceted role in various aspects. 

Do You Need an Advanced Degree (Master’s Degree) to Work in AI?

You don’t necessarily need a Master’s Degree, but even entry level jobs may require a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology, or any other engineering degree. When applying for entry level positions, take a closer look at the skills required. Do you really need a Master’s Degree or do you already have the right skills and knowledge to pursue the role? If you have the right technical skills, communication skills and problem-solving skills – with a portfolio to back you up – you can work in the field without studying further. 

What Are the Skills Required For Artificial Intelligence (AI) Roles?

Artificial intelligence is a broad field – and no two artificial intelligence jobs are the same. Do you want to be a robotics engineer? Even if you both have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you’ll use different tools to a machine learning engineer, for example. Information research scientists or AI research scientists may use different skills than machine learning engineers, and many industries require specialization, even for entry level roles in artificial intelligence. You may need an advanced degree to work at specific tech companies, other open up entry level jobs to any professional that has some artificial intelligence experience.

Since you’re here…Are you interested in this career track? Investigate with our free guide to what a data professional actually does. When you’re ready to build a CV that will make hiring managers melt, join our Data Science Bootcamp which will help you land a job or your tuition back!

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.