AI is transforming the job landscape. Find out how you can join the revolution as an AI prompt engineer.

Every significant technological advance in history has brought a wave of new career opportunities. Take the internet: From SEO specialists to web designers to virtual assistants, these jobs simply did not exist in the era before online communication.

The same holds true for the recent explosion of AI-enabled technology. AI (artificial intelligence) is poised to eliminate some existing jobs, but like the internet before it, it’s also spawning several new career opportunities.

In the past few months, the spotlight’s been shining particularly bright on the innovative role of the prompt engineer. Here’s what you need to know about this hot new technology position.

prompt engineer vs. AI engineer

While both have “engineer” in their titles, a prompt engineer is not the same as an AI engineer. An AI engineer builds AI systems and models. That sounds complex because it is: To be an AI engineer, you need to have a background in fields such as information technology, data science and machine learning. 

A prompt engineer, on the other hand, creates the prompts that are used to instruct AI models to generate output. It can be a great way to get into an AI-driven field, even if you don’t have a technical background. In fact, depending on the parameters of a prompt engineering role, good communication skills may be more valuable than the ability to code.

different flavors of prompt engineering

Why? Because there’s no code involved in prompt engineering. Generative AI models such as Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are revolutionary because they’re powered by natural language processing (NLP), a machine-learning technique that helps computers understand the intricacies of human language.

This means the “programming language” used to communicate with these models is simple, everyday English (or Spanish, Chinese, Korean and many more, though most natural language models are currently less proficient in languages other than English). But while no coding is needed to create AI prompts, the requirements of a prompt engineering role will depend on its job description:

code generation 

A prompt engineer hired to create prompts to feed to an AI model to generate actual code will need at least some basic programming knowledge. Because generative AI models are not always accurate, you must understand the code generated to determine the following prompt's direction.

output testing

Familiarity with AI and machine learning is the perfect skill set for prompt engineers tasked with testing the output generated by AI models. For these prompt engineers, the goal is to create prompts that ferret out any weaknesses in the AI output so that they can be fixed.

text generation 

Many companies hire prompt engineers to create and adapt prompts to instruct AI models to generate specific text output. This output can range from copywriting to legal documents to product documentation. For these prompt engineering roles, the ability to communicate using the written word is likely far more useful than knowing what’s going on under the AI model’s hood. 

art generation

Prompt engineers working with AI image models like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney use different tactics to craft their prompts. While natural language is still the basic building block of an AI art prompt, rather than writing running prose, an art prompt employs keywords separated by commas. A photography or visual arts background can be beneficial for this type of prompt creation.

AI prompt engineering might sound like an exotic new field. But at its core, it’s all about knowing what to communicate to an AI model to get it to generate the output you want. In essence, prompt engineering demystifies the interaction with AI models, empowering users to optimize communication for meaningful and accurate outputs.

Want to compare AI prompt engineer with other in-demand tech positions? Check out our rundown of today’s hottest IT jobs.