Artificial Intelligence as a Trending Field
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a trending occupation within emerging technology fields as well as a frequent topic among mainstream media.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to machine learning technology. It was a term first coined by John McCarthy (the “father of AI”) in 1956 during his conference on the subject, although Vannevar Bush and Alan Turing had already been exploring the concept of machines being able to think for several years.
AI is designed to simulate human intelligence in machines and uses multiple algorithms to perform autonomous actions. AI uses a collection of mathematical algorithms to make computers understand relationships between different types and different pieces of data. Then that knowledge of the connections is utilized to arrive at conclusions or make decisions with a very high degree of accuracy. But AI will not be able to function properly unless it has enough data from which AI can “learn.”
The smaller the data pool that you use to train your AI model, the more you encounter decreased accuracy of the prediction or decision.
Early AI algorithms often had specific goals, such as the search and sort algorithm A* (pronounced A-Star). First published in 1968 by Peter Hart, Nils Nilsson, and Bertram Raphael of Sanford Research Institute. The technology has come a long way since the last millennium and modern AI currently feature algorithms and software engineering principles used for machine learning, deep learning, and artificial neural networks.
Primarily, there are three steps involved in AI:
Deep learning and machine learning understand the patterns and trends in a given set of data to find the goal embedded within the data. Artificial neural networks are modeled after human neurons that learn information over time and can execute actions.
AI may have several different interpretations, depending upon the industry it is used in and can be considered a catchall, or umbrella term. To be more historically accurate, AI is the process of a computer acting like a human.
AI Careers and Salary Projections & Why AI is Trending
Similar to data analysts, statisticians, and business analysts, AI is one of the fastest growing, in-demand fields and lucrative career choices.
Each of these fields have a Venn-diagrammatic relationship in several areas, so when researching the required skills for each, you will discover the different areas of artificial intelligence overlap. The necessary combination of skills requires education and training, so those who have both, have a positive advantage to establish a career with measurable growth potential.
Computer Science & Intelligence Research
Computer science and AI research are focused on developing methods to advance AI technology, while the other careers on this list are more focused on exploring the application of AI.
A computer scientist is the one who will keep technology moving forward. The responsibilities of computer scientists vary but may include:
- Managing data systems related to AI
- Developing new software, or
- Overseeing the ethics and accountability that are of critical importance when creating AI tools
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2021 that computer and information research scientists enjoy a median annual salary of $131,490.
Education: AI research for a computer scientist often requires an extensive background in applied statistics and mathematical theory, so a good start would be an undergraduate degree in computer science, though many AI research roles will require a master’s or P.h.D in computer science.
Data is at the core of AI and machine learning functions, and although data science is a broad field, data analyst skills are one of the most significant for AI processes. Data analysts need to have a solid foundation of the data to be used, including:
- Analyzing, and
- Storing large data sets.
Also critical, data analysts must be able to communicate their findings and utilize visualization tools.
According to the BLS, operations research analysts (who often put their data analytics skills to work in a corporate setting) earned a median annual salary of $82,360 in 2021.
Natural Language Processing
As the title suggests, natural language processing (NLP) involves applying machine learning to language and there are numerous applications for this skill.
Responsibilities in this field vary but generally consist of applying a complex understanding of language and technology to create systems to allow computers to successfully communicate with humans. Examples of natural language processing and AI include:
- Virtual assistants
- Predictive texting
There is a high demand for this skill set and the job outlook is very positive for the foreseeable future. The median annual salary for individuals with NLP skills is $100,910 by BLS estimates, but the highest-earning, most experienced data scientists with this skillset may earn closer to $167,040.
Education: Consider a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science with a specialization in natural language processing or computer linguists.
There is plenty of demand in AI for traditional computer science roles like software engineering and software development. Software engineers design and develop the programs or systems in which artificial intelligence tools function and utilize machine learning to carry out a variety of tasks.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a growth rate of 25 percent by 2031 for software developers. The median annual salary is $109,020 for software developers as of May 2021.
Education: To carve out a successful career in software engineering for AI, individuals should consider earning a master’s degree in computer science in programs that offer a concentration in artificial intelligence.
User Experience (UX)
(UX) roles involve working with products, particularly websites, to understand how consumers use them and ensure positive user experience. UX as it applies to AI is a growing field that correlates to the increasing use of AI in technology.
In relation to AI, a UX specialist may use their understanding of how users are interacting with specific products to develop better user functionality for future use. For example, Apple products epitomize the concept of user experience influencing technology with the goal of making their products “intuitive” or user-friendly. By understanding how people used their products (or the user experience), Apple then adapted and developed technology to fit those needs.
UX user experience designers and digital designers can earn a median base pay of $78,300.
Education: In addition to an undergraduate degree or certification, a master’s degree in computer science, data science, or artificial intelligence would be beneficial for career opportunities and earning potential.
Common Pre-Requisite Skills for Artificial Intelligence Jobs
- Strong knowledge of mathematics
- Basic knowledge of statistics, data evaluation, and modeling
- Skills in Tensorflow, Keras, Python, Scikit, and Pytorch
- Ability to understand complex algorithms
- Strong analytical skills
- Experience in statistics
- Understanding of distributed computing
- Expert knowledge of Machine Learning algorithms
Artificial Intelligence Salary
In addition to the salary classifications mentioned within the job descriptions, the BLS estimates that Artificial Intelligence salaries for the most experienced professionals can reach upwards of $208,000, which is an increase in salary compared to recent years and depends upon experience, performance, and the company you work for. U.S. News & World Report listed the following companies as among the best investments in AI: Nvidia Corp., Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Salesforce, Alteryx, Amazon, Microsoft, Twilio, IBM, and Facebook.
Summary – Data Science and AI
While Data Science and AI are terms are often used interchangeably and do indeed overlap, data science is a broad field that uses AI tools, such as Deep Learning algorithms perform rigorous classification and prediction on the data.
Data science is experiencing tremendous year-over-year career growth, according to a LinkedIn 2021 report but artificial intelligence specialists are leading the pack of emerging jobs in the United States with an annual growth of more than 74 percent over the last five years. As a field that requires a high level of knowledge and technical skill, if you can master these technologies via an industry directed education, you’ll have the tools to establish a challenging and financially rewarding career.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for computer and information research scientists like AI professionals reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2023.