How to become an AI Engineer

January 31, 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has surged in popularity and prevalence. Virtually every sector and industry stands poised for profound transformations due to AI integration.

The ongoing AI revolution heralds boundless potential. However, for AI to fulfill its promises, it must become an integral part of everyday business and government operations. This necessitates significant effort, underscoring the urgent demand for professionals equipped with AI expertise to develop these products and applications.

A pivotal role essential for the effective implementation of AI solutions is that of the AI engineer. Broadly, an AI engineer is tasked with designing, developing, and implementing solutions and applications that empower machines to undertake tasks typically requiring human intelligence.

In this article, we delve into the essentials to kickstart your journey as an AI engineer. Whether you're a data professional venturing into a new role, an AI enthusiast, or an aspiring AI researcher, this guide is tailored to you. We unravel the intricacies of the AI engineer role, outline the requisite background and skills for these in-demand professionals, and shed light on what awaits you in your inaugural role as an AI engineer. Let's dive in!

What does an AI Engineer do?

AI engineers serve as linchpins for companies seeking to harness the potential of AI. Their primary responsibility is to seamlessly integrate AI-based tools and solutions into the day-to-day operations of organizations.

To fulfill their duties effectively, AI engineers necessitate a diverse and extensive background amalgamating expertise from multiple domains, including AI, Machine Learning (ML), data science, and software engineering. Additionally, they must possess a profound comprehension of the intricacies and structure of the company they serve.

Despite the predominantly technical nature of their background, AI engineering is often associated with leadership-oriented roles. This entails spearheading intricate projects, interfacing with clients, and adeptly managing and guiding teams to success.

AI Engineering vs ML Engineering

When discussing AI engineering, it's crucial to distinguish it from ML engineering. While there are evident overlaps between the two roles, distinct factors set them apart.

To grasp these differences better, let's examine the definitions of these closely related terms:

Artificial Intelligence encompasses a broad domain of computer science dedicated to crafting intelligent systems capable of performing tasks that typically demand human intelligence. It encompasses an extensive array of tools and methodologies for enabling computers to behave intelligently and autonomously.

Machine Learning, a specialized subset within AI, focuses on developing and refining algorithms that enhance accuracy and efficiency through interaction with data over time. In essence, ML empowers computers to analyze data, extract insights, and make informed decisions or predictions, all without explicit programming for these functions.

Based on these definitions, the primary distinction between AI engineering and ML engineering lies in their scope of work. ML engineers primarily concentrate on developing and optimizing models, alongside scaling them to production for deployment as ML products. This demands a blend of expertise spanning software engineering and data science.

In contrast, AI engineers engage with a broader spectrum of technologies and tasks to foster diverse forms of machine intelligence. While ML algorithms and data-driven applications may prevail, depending on the company and role, AI engineers also tackle other AI domains like robotics, natural language understanding, or rule-based expert systems.

Becoming an AI Engineer: Educational Pathways

Securing your first job as an AI engineer doesn't follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on your background, experience level, and time constraints, certain pathways may align better with your goals.

Let's explore various educational routes that pave the way to AI engineering:

Undergraduate Education: In recent years, colleges worldwide have introduced undergraduate programs in AI and ML, offering promising opportunities for prospective students. Embracing the interdisciplinary nature of AI, you can also consider bachelor's degrees in Data Science, Computer Science, Software Development, or Mathematics to acquire essential skills for AI engineering.

Postgraduate Education: A master's degree in AI or related fields serves as a valuable asset for expanding your knowledge base and acquiring advanced skills, whether you're a recent graduate or a seasoned professional transitioning into AI engineering.

Courses and Career Tracks: Online boot camps and data science platforms offer expedited and cost-effective pathways to acquiring AI engineering skills. At Digital Bricks, we're committed to providing interactive, insightful courses on AI suitable for all proficiency levels.

For a comprehensive introduction to AI, explore our AI Mastery course, available here.

Certifications and Specialized Training

Earning an AI certification is a powerful method to validate your AI proficiency and gain a competitive edge in the job market.

AI certifications, often conferred by professional organizations or educational institutions, entail a thorough assessment process. Candidates typically undergo examinations evaluating their expertise and competencies across various AI domains.

Numerous providers offer AI certifications, with Digital Bricks being a notable example. Recognized by Microsoft and the European Edtech Alliance, Digital Bricks empowers individuals to distinguish themselves in the fiercely competitive AI job market.

By obtaining an AI certification, you not only demonstrate your AI acumen but also enhance your prospects in securing lucrative opportunities in this burgeoning field.

Soft Skills are Essential for AI Engineers

Soft skills are essential components of success for AI engineers, complementing their technical expertise and enhancing their effectiveness in diverse work environments.

Problem-solving: AI engineers tackle complex tasks in developing and operating AI algorithms, necessitating a deep understanding of integration systems. They must possess a comprehensive vision of the project, harmonizing technologies, business objectives, deadlines, and resources to ensure project success.

Teamwork: Recognizing the intricate nature of AI system development, expecting one individual to handle the entire process is unrealistic. AI engineers play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration and managing the efforts of diverse teams and departments involved in the project.

Communication skills: Beyond technical proficiency, effective communication skills are indispensable for AI engineers to collaborate across departments, grasp the needs of data analysts, data scientists, and business leaders. Depending on organizational requirements, AI engineers may also need proficiency in developing dashboards, reports, and other visualizations to effectively communicate with stakeholders.

AI Engineer Career Opportunities and Growth

Exploring Career Paths in AI Engineering

With the transformative impact of AI showcased by cutting-edge tools like ChatGPT, the surge in AI-related positions comes as no surprise.

According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report, AI and machine learning specialists top the list of rapidly growing jobs in the next five years. As industries increasingly integrate AI technologies to optimize operations and enhance decision-making, the demand for AI engineers is poised to soar.

This forecast aligns with the projected growth in the AI market size between 2021 and 2030, underscoring the burgeoning opportunities in the field.

Source: Statistica

Given the transformative potential of AI, there will be job opportunities for AI engineers in nearly every industry and sector, from tech and finance to marketing and manufacturing.

Understanding Salary Expectations for AI Engineers

Amidst the high demand for AI engineers, organizations worldwide are vying to recruit talent to implement AI solutions. However, with the supply of AI professionals lagging behind demand, competition among companies for these experts is intense, especially compared to other tech sectors. Consequently, employers are offering lucrative salaries to attract skilled AI engineers.

Glassdoor reports that the estimated total pay for an AI Engineer in the US falls within the range of $124K - $193K per year. However, salary figures can vary significantly based on factors such as seniority, location, education, and expertise in specific niche areas within AI.

Source: Glassdoor

Seizing the Opportunity

We find ourselves amidst a golden age of AI. Companies globally are actively seeking AI talent to integrate AI into their operations, making AI engineers one of the most sought-after profiles in data science today. We trust that this article has provided valuable insights into this popular and lucrative role.

If you're eager to embark on a journey in AI engineering, Digital Bricks stands ready to assist you every step of the way.