How to Become an AI Engineer or Researcher
Artificial intelligence is improving everyday life and is expected to impact nearly every industry in the coming years. This technology brings exceptional job growth, exciting job opportunities, and high pay.
According to the popular job posting website Indeed.com, machine learning engineers (a type of AI engineer) make an average annual salary of $150,083 in the United States. Ziprecruiter.com, another job website, reports that AI engineers make an average of $164,769 per year in the U.S.
There is no better time to pursue becoming an AI engineer. In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to launch a career in AI, including:
- What Is Artificial Intelligence?
- What Does an AI Engineer Do?
- Skills Needed to Become an AI Engineer
- Steps to Becoming an AI Engineer
Artificial Intelligence (also commonly called “AI”) is a technology that mimics and performs tasks that would typically require human intelligence. AI is utilized for countless tasks such as speech recognition, language translation, decision-making, healthcare technology, and more. Advancements in AI are possible thanks to the surplus of data in our lives and advancements made in computer processing power.
The result of this technology is the luxury of self-driven cars, AI-led customer assistance, even things as seemingly simple as your email provider’s auto-correct and text editing functionality. AI gives way to opportunities that impact daily life, including breakthroughs that at one point might have only been dreamed of in science fiction but are now very much embedded in our everyday lives.
The typical tasks of an AI engineer will vary based on the industry they’ve chosen to work in. However, here are the common tasks that aspiring AI engineers could expect to perform.
- Manage and set up product infrastructure and AI development projects.
- Study and evolve data science prototypes.
- Implement machine learning algorithms and AI tools within research opportunities based on current parameters.
- Build AI models from scratch and assist in sharing knowledge of the model’s function.
- Choose appropriate datasets and data representation methods.
- Train computer systems and develop them further when needed.
- Build data transformation infrastructure and automate the infrastructure that the data team uses frequently.
- Transform machine learning models into application program interfaces so that applications can implement the API.
- Work and communicate with other AI engineers or robotics teams as needed to communicate important processes and developments in the works.
A successful AI engineer will typically possess some if not all of these skills:
Programming Language Fluency - An important skill set needed to become an AI engineer is learning how to write in multiple programming languages. While knowing Python and R is critical, it’s also necessary to have a strong understanding of data structures and basic algorithms alongside programming literacy.
Mathematical Skills - Developing AI models will require confidence in calculating algorithms and a strong understanding in probability. AI programming will utilize statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and numerical analysis to help predict how AI programs will run.
Data Management Ability - A large element of the typical AI engineer work day is working with large amounts of data as well as working with big data technologies such as Spark or Hadoop that will help make sense of data programming.
Knowledge of Algorithms - Having a strong knowledge of algorithms and their respective frameworks helps building AI models and implementing machine learning processes easier. This can be with structured or unstructured data so having a deep knowledge of algorithms is helpful for success.
Critical Thinking Skills - AI engineers are consistently researching data and trends in order to develop new findings and create AI models. Being able to build a rapid prototype allows the engineer to brainstorm new approaches to the model and make improvements. The ability to think critically and quickly to make a project perform well is helpful for all AI engineers.
As with most career paths, there are some mandatory prerequisites prior to launching your AI engineering career. The steps to becoming an AI engineer typically require higher education and certifications.
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Science
The first step in becoming an AI engineer involves learning the foundations of artificial intelligence: computer information science. Most employers will require a bachelor’s degree in bachelor’s degree in computer information science or computer science to demonstrate that you have mastered the basics of programming and algorithms.
Step 2: Sharpen Technological Fluency
In addition to programming, AI engineers should also have an understanding of software development, machine learning, robotics, data science, and more. These fundamentals will be covered while obtaining a bachelor's degree.
Some individuals go on to earn a master’s degree in data analytics or mathematics.
Step 3: Seek a Position within the AI Field
Once you’ve achieved your higher education requirements and have developed the technological skills that an AI engineering job demands, it’s time to seek a position within the field of artificial intelligence. AI engineers can work for countless industries – robotics, health care and medicine, marketing and retail, education, government, and many more.
Someone proficient in the science of AI can choose to apply for a job as an AI developer, AI architect, machine learning engineer, data scientist, or AI researcher.
Step 4: Stay Current on AI Trends
As with any career in technology, the knowledge and capabilities of artificial intelligence are constantly evolving. It’s important to stay updated on current trends, new systems, and potential programming changes in order to create the best AI systems for the current market – and so that you stay marketable in your chosen career.
Start a Career in Artificial Intelligence with GMercyU!
AI engineering is a lucrative and exciting career choice, well suited for natural problem solvers and those who enjoy making sense of data and numbers. GMercyU can help you develop your computer science skills to set you up for success as an AI engineer with our Computer Information Science program.
GMercyU’s dedicated, expert faculty will mentor you as you grow your skill set. In addition to hands-on learning, GMercyU AI students also explore the ethical challenges that these powerful technologies bring about, so that you can become a responsible innovator of future AI technologies.
Begin your AI career journey today!