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How to Become an AI Engineer: Skills Required and Opportunities
In 1959, Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, said, “We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.” And here we are, in 2022, witnessing machines competing with humans in nearly all intellectual fields, all due to the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). Do you have what it takes to befriend machines? Would you like to know how to become an AI engineer? We’re here to help.
Why is AI Relevant Today?
The swift growth of artificial intelligence in the last few decades has spun an interesting debate. Many people think that with the speed at which the field of artificial intelligence is progressing, plenty of technical and non-technical jobs might become redundant. On the other hand, the remaining population believes that AI is supposed to make our lives easier and cannot replace the human effect. Despite the contradictory views, the AI industry is booming.
A report published by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on AI and employment in 2021 states that the advancement of AI has increased the number of jobs that require computer usage. Hence, companies and scientists are also investing huge capital in this field. As a result, there is a dire need for skilled AI professionals worldwide, especially AI engineers. Therefore, AI Engineering has become one of the most sought-after jobs today. Let’s now look at how to become an AI engineer.
Why Should You Become an AI Engineer?
Around 4.5 million engineers graduated in the US in 2020. But if you’re wondering whether there are enough jobs to go around, there’s no need to worry.
In 2021, the US was the top country in private investment in AI and the growth of new AI companies. A LinkedIn report on emerging jobs in the US published in 2020 stated that the US is witnessing tremendous growth in engineering roles. More than 50% of popular job roles in 2020 were related to engineering. If you consider the AI field, there has been 74% growth in the requirement of AI specialist roles in the past four years. Moreover, the average annual salary of an AI Engineer in the US is $167,541. These statistics signify a considerable growth potential for AI engineers.
What Does an AI Engineer Do?
Before you jump on to the process of how to become an AI engineer, it is essential to know about the role and responsibilities. It will help you understand whether a career in artificial intelligence is the right fit. The following are the key responsibilities of an AI engineer:
- Building AI models with the help of machine learning algorithms to acquire valuable business insights
- Performing statistical analysis and using interpretation techniques to streamline organizational processes
- Developing, programming, and training networks to create AI models that solve complex tasks
- Creating and maintaining AI infrastructure
How to Become an AI Engineer?
Since AI is a rapidly growing field with tremendous career opportunities, more people are gaining specialization in AI to advance their careers. So, you must gain expertise in AI to advance your career. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to become an AI engineer.
Step 1: Get a degree in Computer Science
The first step to becoming an AI engineer is getting a degree in computer science. Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science (CS) involving computer programs and building algorithms to perform human tasks. Most undergraduate colleges in the US include AI as a core subject in the CS curriculum. Statistics show that one out of every five CS students pursuing a Ph.D. in the US specializes in AI. A degree in CS will also help you learn the advanced coding and programming required to build AI tools.
Step 2: Learn Artificial Intelligence
There is no straitjacket formula to learning AI. Instead, you can learn from a variety of online and offline sources. The following are some ways you can gain in-depth knowledge of artificial intelligence.
- You can learn the basics of AI if you have it as a subject in computer science course curriculum
- Another way to learn both theoretical and practical concepts of AI is to enroll in advanced online courses in artificial intelligence
- Read research papers or blogs on AI
- Attend AI workshops, seminars, or bootcamps
- Keep yourself updated with the latest AI trends and developments in the field
- Volunteer for AI projects with your mentors or seniors
- Do internships with AI startups
- Listen to AI podcasts or watch informational videos on AI
- You can also read or listen to interviews with AI specialists
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Step 3: Develop Technical Skills
Once you gain theoretical knowledge of AI, you should focus on learning technical skills. According to the AI Employment Index Report 2022, the majority of AI job postings require the following skills:
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
- Neural Networks
- Natural Language Processing
- Visual Image Recognition
- Autonomous Driving
Other technical skills that you must have as an AI engineer are:
- Programming languages like Python, Java, Scala, and TypeScript
- Data Science
- Statistics and probability
- Data Engineering
- Exploratory data analysis
In addition to these technical AI engineering skills, it is also essential to have soft skills to move ahead in your career. The following soft skills help you build professional relationships and expand your network.
- Emotional intelligence
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
Step 5: Grow Your Professional Network
Networking is one of the most underrated steps in career growth that many people tend to avoid. However, the sooner you understand the importance of developing and maintaining meaningful professional connections, the better it is. Building professional contacts in the field of AI and engineering will help you learn industry insights, job statistics, hiring processes of companies, the latest AI trends, and a lot more. It also increases the chances of receiving job recommendations.
Step 6: Acquire Practical Experience
The artificial intelligence field is evolving rapidly. Only theoretical knowledge of AI engineering will not suffice. Companies prefer candidates with prior practical experience in AI engineering. Therefore, to become an AI engineer in a company or startup, it is crucial to have practical knowledge.
You can gain practical experience by working on real-time AI projects, such as online courses that provide practical training. In addition, it will boost your resume and increase your chances of getting a well-paying AI engineering job.
Step 7: Apply for AI Engineer Job Roles
Lastly, you have to apply for AI engineer jobs. You can look for jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor. However, randomly applying to AI engineering jobs on online platforms might not be the right approach. One of the best ways to get an AI engineer job is to send cold emails. Here is what you can try.
- Make a list of the top 40-50 AI companies in the US or the world
- Check out their websites
- Go to the career page, find email ids and send your resume with a well-drafted cover letter
- Also, remember to send follow-up emails in two-three weeks
- You can also leverage your professional network to receive job recommendations
Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the world. The AI market will grow tremendously in the next few years, and companies will try their best to make the best of this opportunity. There will be a huge demand for experienced and skilled AI professionals, with companies on hiring sprees. Now is the best time to kickstart your career in AI by gaining relevant knowledge and skills. If you are planning to build a career in AI and are confused about how to start, Emeritus artificial intelligence and machine learning courses can help!
By Sneha Chugh
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