Top Careers in Artificial Intelligence 

As the possible applications of AI continue to increase, so does the positive career potential for those with the skills needed to thrive in this industry. The World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs 2018“ report predicts that there will be 58 million new jobs in artificial intelligence by 2022.

However, those with the necessary combination of skills are often hard to come by, Edmunds explains. “The job market is huge in [AI], but a lot of people aren’t trained for it,” she says, resulting in an above-average job outlook for those with the skills needed to work in this niche area.

Read on to explore some of these top career areas defining the industry.

1. Artificial Intelligence Research

Although many of these top careers explore the application or function of AI technology, computer science and artificial intelligence research is more about discovering ways to advance the technology. “There will always be somebody developing a faster machine,” Edmunds says. “There’s always going to be somebody pushing the edge, and that [person] will be a computer scientist.”

Responsibilities: A computer science and artificial intelligence researcher’s responsibilities will vary greatly depending on their specialization or particular role in the research field. Some may be in charge of advancing the data systems related to AI. Others might oversee the development of new software that can uncover new potential in the field. Others may still be responsible for overseeing the ethics and accountability of creating such tools. No matter their specialization, however, individuals in these roles will work to uncover the possibilities of these technologies and then help implement changes in existing tools to reach that potential.

Career Outlook: As these individuals are at the crux of advancement in AI, their job outlook is very positive. The New York Times estimates that high-level AI researchers at top companies make more than $1,000,000 per year as of 2018, with lower-level employees making between $300,000 and $500,000 per year in salary and stock. Individuals in base-level AI research roles are likely to make an average salary of $92,221 annually. 

2. Software Engineering

The AI field also relies on traditional computer science roles such as software engineers to develop the programs on which artificial intelligence tools function.

Responsibilities: Software engineers are part of digital programs or systems’ overall design and development process. In the scope of AI, individuals in these roles are responsible for developing the technical functionality of the products that utilize machine learning to carry out various tasks.

Career Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of 22 percent by 2029 for software developers, including the addition of 316,000 jobs. Software engineers also make an average salary of $110,140 per year, with potential increases for those specializing in AI.

3. Natural Language Processing

Many of the most popular consumer applications of AI today revolve around language. AI tools have been used to replicate human speech in various formats, from chatbots to virtual assistants to predictive texting on smartphones. To do this effectively, developers call upon the knowledge of natural language processors—individuals with both the language and technology skills needed to assist in the creation of these tools. “Natural language processing is applying machine learning to language,” Edmunds says. “It’s a vast field.”

Responsibilities: As there are many applications of natural language processing, the duties of the experts in this field will vary. However, in general, individuals in these roles will use their complex understanding of language and technology to develop systems through which computers can successfully communicate with humans.

Career Outlook: “There’s a real shortage of people in these roles [today],” Edmunds says. “There are many [products] where we’re trying to interact with a machine through language, but language is tough.” For this reason, those with the proper skill sets can expect an above-average salary and job outlook for the foreseeable future. The average annual wage for those with natural language processing skills is $107,641.

4. User Experience

User experience (UX) roles involve working with AI products to ensure that consumers understand their functions and can easily use them. Although Edmunds emphasizes that these roles exist outside of the artificial intelligence sector, the increased use of AI in technology today has led to a growing need for UX specialists trained in this particular area.

Responsibilities: In general, user experience specialists are in charge of understanding how humans use equipment and thus how computer scientists can apply that understanding to producing more advanced software. In terms of AI, a UX specialist’s responsibilities may include learning how humans interact with these tools to develop functionality that better fits those humans’ needs down the line.

Did You Know: One of the most prominent examples of how user experience influenced the technology we know today is Apple. The invention of Mac operating software—compared to Windows—came from the need for a more user-friendly product that didn’t require an advanced technical understanding. Apple approached the development of the iPhone in the same way. “The iPhone was all about user experience,” Edmunds says. “That was a [user experience expert] understanding how people interact [with their phones], including what’s intuitive and what’s not. Then they designed the best possible phone to fit those needs.”

Job Outlook: The job outlook for user experience designers is quite positive. The average salary for UX designers is $76,440 per year (though those at the top of their field make over $100,000 annually). Job growth in this industry is expected to increase by 22.1 percent by 2022, effectively increasing opportunities for those with the proper training and experience.

5. Data Analytics

With data at the heart of AI and machine learning functions, those trained to manage that data properly have many industry success opportunities. Though data science is a broad field, Edmunds emphasizes that data analysts play in these AI processes as one of the most significant. 

Responsibilities: Data analysts need to have a solid understanding of the data, including the practices of managing, analyzing, and storing it, and the skills required to communicate findings through visualization effectively. “It’s one thing just to have the data, but to be able to report on it to other people is vital,” Edmunds says.