With the rising acceptance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in different industries, the demand for AI jobs has now increased. Read this article to find out the top five jobs in AI that you should know, and how you can start a career in this field.
When you come to think about it, the word artificial intelligence (AI) sounds pretty intimidating, and if we are honest, slightly frightening. The thought of super-intelligent robots and machines taking over our lives and automating almost anything we do may put some people on edge.
Despite this, AI has been around and in use for decades and its applications are way simpler and common than you might think. For instance, Google uses AI to manage and filter your emails in your inbox to ensure it is authentic, and many companies have embraced chatbots as tools to improve customer service by directing them to relevant content.
Other complex developments in algorithms have led to more advanced AI developments such as smart voice assistants, autonomous cars and emotionally intelligent robots.
It’s safe to say that AI has come a long way since its mere depiction in science fiction as a “heartless” Tin man from the Wizard of Oz. Without even realising it, most of us go about our days interacting with AI.
The global AI market is expected to grow exponentially over the years. (image source: Oberlo)
But AI has not only been appearing in our everyday products and applications - algorithms and machines have also permeated into the career space, and are expected to create 133 million new jobs, but at the same time, displace 75 million jobs by 2022, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) called “The Future of Jobs 2018.” In other words, the growth of AI could create 58 million net new jobs in the next few years.
In this article, we will take a deeper dive into AI-related careers, explore the ways one could start a career in AI, the top five jobs related to AI, and the skills it takes to get into those fields.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disabled the job market - but AI will continue to flourish
It has not been a great year for the job market - according to Malaysia’s Human Resources Ministry, nearly 78,000 Malaysians from various industries were retrenched from March to October 16 this year, based on data from the Employment Insurance System (EIS).
The great news is, no matter how you slice it, the future will still be extremely bright for AI and machine learning jobs. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide, global spending on AI is forecast to double over the next four years, growing from RM203 billion in 2020 to more than RM447 billion in 2024.
The increased spending on AI will further accelerate the creation of jobs within the industry. Similar to the earlier data from the WEF, global accountancy firm PwC, also states that over 7 million jobs will be displaced by AI between 2017 and 2037 – but at the same time, generate 7.2 million jobs, which is a net gain of 200,000 jobs.
The need to remain competitive in the digital economy will spur the acceleration and growth of AI systems across the globe in the next several years. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 2019-2024 period will be 20.1%.
"Companies will adopt AI — not just because they can, but because they must," said Ritu Jyoti, program vice president, Artificial Intelligence at IDC. "AI is the technology that will help businesses to be agile, innovate, and scale. The companies that become 'AI-powered' will have the ability to synthesize information (using AI to convert data into information and then into knowledge), the capacity to learn (using AI to understand relationships between knowledge and apply the learning to business problems), and the capability to deliver insights at scale (using AI to support decisions and automation)."
As companies increasingly rely on and produce a massive amount of structured and unstructured data aka big data, the need for specialists to analyse and extract knowledge and insights from those data points, increases as well.
Most US and UK organisations are completely invested in AI, according to 2019 research from SnapLogic. (Image source: SnapLogic)
There’s a slight dilemma, however. Although AI efforts are maturing and moving from “prototype to production,” as reported in a survey by O’Reilly, there’s still a lack of sufficient AI and ML skills in the market to support this growth.
This is echoed by a report by SnapLogic titled, The AI Skills Gap, which found that although 93% of US and UK organisations consider AI and machine learning to be top business priorities with various projects planned or already in production, more than half of them (51%) acknowledge that their businesses do not have the right mix of skilled in-house AI talent to bring those ideas and strategies to life.
This issue is one experienced in the Malaysian market as well. Despite the potential of AI, the lack of skilled AI talent hinders the field from fully blooming. If you are interested to learn more about starting a career in AI, continue below.
How to start a career in artificial intelligence (AI)? Here’s a step-by-step guide
Before you can register any interest in AI, it would be beneficial to understand what it is. Most people would probably assume that AI refers to robots - though this is not entirely far-fetched. However, the more accurate way to think of it is a field of computer science that teaches machines to think and behave like humans as well as execute tasks usually done by humans.
1. Figure out if you are a right fit
You’ve heard this before but, careers are not one-size-fits-all. Not all personalities or backgrounds are suitable for the same types of jobs or career developments. Before spending a large amount of time - and a large chunk of your money - studying computer science, make sure you are a good match for the field first.
Undeniably, AI is a technical and subject-heavy course, and you will need to have strong computer skills and analytical thinking before pursuing a formal education in AI. You will need to be inherently analytical to enter this field.
2. Complete a formal education programme
The obvious next step is to complete a formal education in computer science or a related field. Basic math and computer knowledge make up the backbone of most AI programmes.
Besides that, it’s also important to get into the right degree programme as this will set you on course to thrive in the AI field. You will need to possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science to be competitive enough to secure good jobs.
Most entry-level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, and positions involving supervision and leadership typically require master’s or doctoral degrees. From what we found, the list of typical coursework involves the study of:
- Various levels of math, including probability, statistics, algebra, calculus, logic and algorithms.
- Bayesian networking or data modelling
- Physics, engineering and robotics
- Computer science, programming languages and coding
3. Secure that dream job!
AI is still in its infancy in an emerging economy and market like Malaysia, so many companies are still seeking for experts within this arena. Figure the type of setting you would like to work in first - a corporation or in a university, for example, then the next step is to apply for entry-level positions.
From what we found on PayScale, the average annual salary in AI is a whopping RM170,000! A Head of Analytics could earn an average RM405,000, while an AI specialist could earn up to RM160,000.
The AI landscape in Malaysia is expected to expand in the coming years, and AI-related jobs are predicted to play large roles in both private and professional institutions.
According to the job site Indeed, machine learning and deep learning engineers ruled the top 10 AI jobs list. This conclusion came after Indeed’s analytics team identified the ten positions with the highest percentage of job descriptions that include the keywords “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning.” (Image source: Indeed)
However, you could get a leg up if you are already sort of in the industry - if you are a software engineer, for example, you could be one step ahead as it may be easier for you to enter the AI industry compared to those who are just getting started. Pick up some additional courses on AI to get extra brownie points when interviewing for an AI job.
Top five emerging jobs in artificial intelligence (AI)
If you are curious, here are the top five emerging jobs related to AI (and the technical skills you need to get there).
Source: Future of Jobs Report 2018, World Economic Forum
1. Data scientists
What do they do: They help companies interpret and manage data as well as solve complex problems with their analytical skills.
Skills: Statistics, programming, big data, data visualisation, machine learning, artificial intelligence.
2. Artificial intelligence specialists
What do they do: They program computers to “think” or behave in ways that normally require human intelligence.
Skills: Statistics, probability, mechanics, cognitive learning theory, language processing, data structures, programming.
3. Machine learning specialists
What do they do: They specialise in developing algorithms which learn from or adapt to data, and formulate predictions.
Skills: Programming, probability, statistics, data modelling, algorithms, software design.
4. Big data specialists
What do they do: They utilise data analytics to evaluate the technical performance of an organisation and provide recommendations on system enhancements.
Skills: Programming, data visualisation, data mining and data auditing, machine learning, statistics.
5. Digital transformation specialists
What do they do: Their role is to enhance a company's technical performance by analysing a company's infrastructure and finding gaps in their services.
Skills: Big data, machine learning, data and digital security, mobile management.
All things considered
In today’s technological era, more and more professionals are starting to understand the need to upgrade or reinvent themselves to compete with new-age tech jobs.
But let’s be clear - we’re not saying everyone can be an AI specialist; however, you can find many online programmes and training institutes that provide digital-related and even AI-related certifications.
These programmes have been well-crafted by experts to help bridge the gap between those without AI-related skills and the current basic industry requirements.
On top of that, professional certifications are one of the best, if not crucial, ways you can add more confidence and credibility to your resume.
Lastly, stay updated on the latest industry news and trends to keep you informed. Good luck!