AI Engineers: What They Do and How Much They Cost?

Source: Deep Learning on Medium

“If you want to command a multiyear, seven-figure salary, you used to have only four career options: chief executive officer, banker, celebrity entertainer, or pro athlete. Now there’s a fifth — artificial intelligence expert.” — Unknown

Imagine a glass with balls. This glass is a field of Computer science knowledge, and balls are various fields: back end, front end development, embedded. One of these balls is artificial intelligence, and it is special because there are other balls inside: machine learning, natural language processing, and a whole slew of other things. Each of these units individually — a powerful force and new opportunities to change any sphere.

AI is not only the automation of cognitive work but also a constant development. Without any exaggeration, developing AI-powered solutions looks like a promising activity, but is it really so? I decided to share with you my own experience and knowledge to help you look beyond the curtain of an artificial intelligence working processes and learn a little more about AI experts.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

What Are the Key Roles of AI Engineers?

For many, artificial intelligence seems to exist on the verge of sci-fi movies, but in fact, it has already integrated into our lives. AI performs a certain intellectual function that previously only humans can perform. Moreover, AI now copes with a number of functions even better than humans. The main task of AI is to draw a logical conclusion and it seems cutting-edge does it well.

A striking example of the use of artificial intelligence is mobile applications that recognize speech. For example, the navigator or the Google Now for Android smartphones, which tracks the user’s location, offers optimal routes for moving between the most visited places, reminds about events, informs about the state of the road, etc.

Contextual advertising on the Internet, which is offered to the user depending on which sites he visited before, on which advertising he reacted positively in the past, as well as on the basis of an analysis of the profiles on social networks, is also displayed using programs with artificial intelligence. Even the usual spell checking in text editors can also be attributed to artificial intelligence systems.

In general, the IT world has five areas of work: the collection, transmission, storage, processing and presentation of information. Artificial intelligence solves the problems of two of them: processing and storage. The information base accessed by artificial intelligence is stored in the AI itself, as events from our lives are stored in our memory. Based on this information, artificial intelligence processes incoming new information and makes a logical conclusion on its basis.

Okay then, AI is great and promising technology. But who are the people who do AI and what they need to do for running an AI-powered project? If talking in simple terms, AI experts first describe and present the basic information in the correct format. They usually systematize information within a specific system, that is, form a conceptual model of the subject area. Then, to ensure the advanced work of artificial intelligence, they teach machines to learn or do machine learning routine.

What is machine learning?

In some way, this is self-learning of the intellectual system in the process of its operation. Thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence can solve not only the tasks that the developer has laid out with a special algorithm but also similar tasks with slightly different conditions. This is an extensive subsection of AI, using sections of mathematical statistics, numerical optimization methods, probability theory, discrete analysis, and extracting knowledge from data.

How does machine learning work?

The training scheme is simple: there is a certain set of objects (situations) and a certain set of answers (responses, reactions), which are a set of correct pairs of “situation-response”. There is a relationship between situations and answers, but initially, it is not known at the mathematical level. The set of correct situation-response pairs is a training sample. Based on this sample, it is necessary to find an algorithm that links a specific situation and a specific answer.

What does AI expert should know to do his work?

So now let’s go back to the AI engineers. What are they doing and what are their key roles and skills? As already stated, AI expert is fully engaged in the whole range of processes concerning data preparation. So in general after all manipulations with data, he copes with the construction of models for machine learning, the optimization of existing algorithms and more.

If more precisely, there is no definite description of the profession. Everything is determined by the specific area of use of information skills. However, there are some things that absolutely any AI Engineer will do, and here they are:

  • designing, undertaking and analyzing information
  • specializing in a few areas of development, such as networks, operating systems, databases or applications
  • helping to safeguard an organization’s computer networks and systems
  • playing a key role in the design, installation, testing, and maintenance of software systems
  • be a specialized type of programmer who may collaborate with web developers and software engineers to integrate Java or any other programming language into business applications, software, and websites
  • studies the software application domain, prepares software requirements, and specification documents

To do all this stuff AI specialist should have the following skills:

  • he should be well versed in programming and know several programming languages
  • he should perfectly know all the Machine Learning algorithms
  • he must be able to work with data warehouses, speak the SQL language for compiling queries
  • analyze and model data using the programming languages R or Python (NumPy / SciPy), or use the SPSS / SAS or Matlab application tool packages
  • visualize data using, for example, Matplotlib tools

In addition, AI experts often work on projects related to fields like medicine, agriculture and other diametrically different areas from technology. For successfully coping with projects like this, AI engineers should also spend some time studying these areas in order to do their work more efficiently.

Is AI a Career That Could Make You a Millionaire?

It is not a secret, companies pay AI developers much more than other professionals. Against the backdrop of the technological race, the war for talent is becoming more fierce — especially considering the fact that the demand for AI developers exceeds their number. Top industry professionals can now earn millions of dollars.

But if talking about the largest figures, the highest salary of an AI expert is in China. The salary of a senior AI research scientist in China is $ 567–624 thousand per year, while ML experts in other countries earn $ 315–410 thousand for the same period of time. The estimated number of employed artificial intelligence professionals in China is 300,000. But this is still not enough — companies may need a million or more AI experts!

What about the US hiring market? Well, it is not empty either. Glassdoor, an American site for anonymous viewing of vacancies and resumes, has more than 32,000 positions in the “artificial intelligence” section, and sometimes there are salaries with six-digit numbers.

The salary of a Machine Learning specialist in the US is $144 thousand per year. For comparison, the average salary in the US labor market is only 29 thousand. Feel the difference?

The average salary for a Machine Learning Engineer is $113,632 per year in Australia.

What about Japan? AI engineer salary there varies from 6 million to 50 million yen annually equal to approximately $60–500 thousand.

What are the AI and ML salaries in India? The average salary of a Machine Learning Engineer in India is ₹8,01,201 ($ 11 thousand ) and it ranges from ₹3,64,000 — ₹15,28,000 ($ 5–21 thousand) according to Glassdoor.

What about AI and ML salaries in Europe? The average salary for a Machine Learning Engineer is €52,576 ($ 58 thousand).

Conclusions

So, who is he — AI Engineer? At first glance, it might seem that this work is simple, monotonous and requires only algorithms development in accordance with which the machine will act. But this is a wrong statement, as a machine learning specialist does a lot more and uses very creative approaches.

He does not just create specific instructions, but makes artificial intelligence self-learn things and improve it. And it is not at all surprising that experts in this field receive sky-high salaries. In the end, this profession is our future. Do you agree? Do you have something to add?

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If you do anything cool with this information, leave a response in the comments below or reach out at any time on my Instagram and Medium blog.

Thanks for reading!