Why artificial intelligence skill sets are trending up

  • career advice
  • February 21, 2017
The demand for tech professionals in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) is strong, and it is only going to get stronger in the years ahead. If you’re looking for a field in which you will always have job security, it is hard to imagine one better than AI.

Most AI employers are going to require a college degree, usually in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) field. A math background in probability, statistics, algebra, calculus and algorithms would be relevant. The study of biology or physics or coursework in engineering and robotics would be helpful. Of course, education and/or experience in computer science or programming are important. There are courses and certifications that can help job candidates acquire the necessary knowledge. Some of these certifications are expensive and take years to acquire — Stanford’s AI graduate certification costs between $14,560 and $19,800 and takes one to two years. Others are free and only take a few months — Georgia Tech’s online machine learning course costs nothing and takes only about four months.

People who have strong analytical abilities, creativity and strong communications skills will be highly sought after. Being able to solve new problems and communicate extremely technical concepts is important. Job candidates who have open source experience and can show examples of their code will have an advantage, as will those who attend industry events and who are current on industry news.

AI jobs cross several industries

The variety of industries hiring AI professionals is broad. According to the research firm Forrester, the areas with the strongest near-term demand for AI pros will likely be the automotive industry, customer service, taxi and truck driving, and marketing. Currently, Apple, Google and IBM are three of the firms most aggressively hiring AI talent. Down the road, demand will grow in the fields of agriculture, education, investment, legal, logistics, materials, retail finance, healthcare, and government and the military. Although many of the current AI jobs are in the larger cities and tech centers — Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, etc. — the technology is going to be so prevalent that jobs in the field will be available nearly everywhere.

Growing demand for AI – limited supply

The fields of AI and machine learning are expanding so rapidly that it’s difficult to estimate the number of AI specialists that will be needed over the next few years. According to testimony this past November, Andrew Moore, dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and a former vice president at Google responsible for machine learning technology, told the Senate that the U.S. should be preparing 1 million high school students to join a growing artificial intelligence industry. He went on to say, “Based upon my experience, a computer science grad with expert-level AI training adds between $5 and $10 million to the bottom line of a company, and there are major bidding wars for these few individuals.”

AI – a job category on fire

The demand for AI workers is strong – and will only get stronger over the next few years. People with the know-how or aptitude to learn the STEM skills behind the technologies should have a wide variety of employment options available to them over the foreseeable future. There are only a few other IT job categories that will be comparable to AI for the intensity of demand by employers.

See our full list of the best IT jobs in 2017.