With the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence revolutionizing various industries across the globe, it’s no wonder why many individuals are considering switching their careers to this avenue. If you are considering a career as an AI engineer, one of the key factors to consider is the salary potential. In this article, we will explore what an AI engineer does, the salary range for AI engineers, the factors that influence these figures and of course, the possible jobs that AI engineers can have.
The Impact of AI on Business and Employment
As the demand for AI-driven solutions continues to skyrocket, the need for skilled professionals in this field has surged. Among these professionals are AI engineers who have an important role in designing, developing and implementing AI systems.
Forbes mentions in their article titled, 24 Top AI Statistics And Trends In 2023 that, "AI is expected to see an annual growth rate of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030.” Additionally, the article also states that although there is a growing concern that AI will result in an increase in job loss, artificial intelligence is in fact, “…projected to create around 97 million new jobs, potentially countering workforce displacement concerns.”
With this, we can only expect to move forward to a new frontier that includes more job opportunities for AI engineers and other individuals in different industries, as well as more businesses and brands adopting AI technologies.
What Exactly Does an AI Engineer Do?
An AI engineer, also known as an artificial intelligence engineer, is a professional who specializes in designing, developing and implementing AI systems and technologies. Their primary role revolves around leveraging machine learning, deep learning, and other AI techniques to create intelligent systems that can perform tasks and make decisions without that much human intervention.
A few examples of AI tools that have greatly helped companies and individuals include:
- Chatbots such as Handle
- Digital Assistants like Cortana and Siri
- Facial Recognition and Detection providers namely True Key by McAfee
- Self-driving cars, for instance, Tesla
As for responsibilities and tasks that are typically associated with the role of an AI engineer, we’ve listed a couple of them below:
Data Collection and Preparation
Artificial intelligence engineers gather and prepare relevant data required for training AI models, ensuring their quality, relevance, and sufficiency. They also determine how the data required for training will be collected, organized, and preprocessed.
Machine Learning Model Development
AI engineers develop and train machine learning models using supervised learning and unsupervised learning methods. A great example of AI engineers developing and training an AI tool would be ChatGPT, where they trained ChatGPT with Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), which resulted in an outstanding tool that many are using today.
Artificial intelligence engineers may also be involved in designing and developing new algorithms or modifying existing ones to improve system performance, efficiency, or accuracy.
Model Evaluation and Optimization
AI engineers assess the performance of trained models using metrics, validate them on test data, and iteratively optimize models to improve accuracy, reduce bias, or increase efficiency.
Deployment and Integration
Once models are trained and validated, AI engineers deploy them into production systems or integrate them into existing applications or workflows, ensuring scalability, robustness, and reliability.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Artificial intelligence engineers are also responsible for monitoring the performance of deployed AI systems, along with identifying issues, setting up monitoring tools, logging relevant metrics and implementing necessary updates or fixes to ensure continued functionality and optimal performance.
Considering Ethical Issues
Despite the many benefits of artificial intelligence, there’s still the possibility of using AI tools for unethical purposes. Fortunately, artificial intelligence engineers are mindful of this and are constantly working on keeping ethical considerations in mind, such as privacy, bias, fairness, and transparency.
Current AI Engineer Salary Trends
Average AI Engineer Salary in the US
AI engineers are among the highest-paid professionals in the tech industry, however, it’s important to note that salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, location and more, which we’ll be going through in the latter section of this article.
On average, an entry-level AI engineer can expect to earn around $28,000 to $97,500 per year as noted by ZipRecruiter’s findings.
Whereas Glassdoor reports that artificial intelligence engineers with a few more years of experience can have an annual salary of $115,000 to $176,000.
While AI engineers who have had an extensive number of years in the field can earn more than $127,000 to $206,000 annually.
It’s safe to say that both entry-level and highly experienced AI engineers with advanced skills and expertise can earn well.
But let’s dive into this a little further.
AI Engineer Jobs and Salary Range
What jobs can you get as an AI Engineer? What are their salaries and general requirements? In this section, we’ll provide a quick overview of a couple of job positions that AI engineers can have including the role of an AI Engineer, along with an estimated salary range and general requirements from actual job posts.
Estimated Salary: $120,000 - $180,000 per year
Overview of Requirements:
- 5+ years of relevant work experience
- Related Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
- Experience in AI engineering, machine learning, deep learning, data preprocessing, feature engineering and model evaluation techniques
- Strong programming skills in Python, Java, R, or C++
- Solid understanding of TensorFlow, PyTorch, and scikit-learn
- Proficiency in working with large datasets
Estimated Salary: $180,000 - $200,000 per year
Overview of Requirements:
- 5+ years experience in data science, data architecture, data engineering, and/or analytics
- Experience building out a data function from scratch
- Expertise in engineering data-driven systems and relational database schema design
- Experience building AVM models a plus
Machine Learning Engineer
Estimated Salary: $117,000 per year
** Overview of Requirements:
- PhD degree in Computer Science, Machine Learning, or related degree, or Masters with 3+ years of relevant experience
- Experience with one or more of the following: natural language processing, natural language understanding, natural language generation, conversational AI, and multimodal AI modeling
- Experience with deep learning modeling
- Experience in TensorFlow, PyTorch, Scikit, etc.
- Strong Python coding skills
Estimated Salary: $104,000 - $168,000 per year
Overview of Requirements:
- 2+ years of experience in one or more of the following areas: machine learning, recommendation systems, pattern recognition, data mining or artificial intelligence
- Experience with Hadoop/HBase/Pig or MapReduce/Sawzall/Bigtable
- Knowledge of developing and debugging in C/C++ and Java
- Experience with scripting languages such as Perl, Python, PHP, and shell scripts
- Currently has, or is in the process of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, relevant technical field, or equivalent practical experience.
Estimated Salary: $88,000 - $132,000
Overview of Requirements:
- Bachelor’s Degree (Business Intelligence, Data Science or Computer Science preferred) or a Masters degree in related field (Business Intelligence, Data Science or Analytics)
- Experience working with data (e.g., Finance, Data Warehousing, Data Analytics, Reporting, Quality, Spotfire, reporting/SQL, AWS, Data Warehousing, Data Analytics, SAP)
- Demonstrated technical competency working with data in relational databases
- Experience leveraging one or more tools in the Business Intelligence space (e.g., Spotfire, Power BI, Tableau, Pipeline Pilot, AWS, Alteryx, Python, Tableau, SAP Business Objects (Webi), Web FOCUS, QlikView, Microsoft BI, Microstrategy, Cognos, Alteryx, Paxata, Trifacta, Informatica, Talend, Ascential) or with data analysis/reporting using standard.
Highest AI Engineer Salaries by State
According to the image displayed above, ZipRecruiter’s report indicates that Washington boasts the highest average salary for AI engineers, standing at $178,801 per year. Following closely behind are Maryland with an average of $174,849, New York with $171,539, Virginia with $169,671, and Colorado with an average salary of $168,396.
Although the report looks promising, ZipRecruiter did note that “With only a handful of states paying above the national average, the opportunities for economic advancement by moving to a new location as an Ai Engineer is a decision to make with some caution.” Furthermore, ZipRecruiter also mentions that the cost of living expenses should also be considered when reviewing these numbers.
Factors Influencing AI Engineer Salaries
Length of Experience
Similar to most jobs, experience is a significant determinant of an AI engineer’s salary. Typically, professionals with several years of practical experience and a proven track record of successful projects can demand higher salaries, whereas individuals who are only starting out may expect a lower compensation rate.
Educational Background and Certifications
Educational qualifications are another factor in salary negotiations. Candidates with double majors and advanced degrees such as a Master’s or PhD in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, or related fields may have an advantage in terms of salary offers.
Moreover, acquiring valuable credentials such as certifications not only validates the expertise and enhances the skill sets of AI engineers, but also grants them a competitive edge and industry recognition.
Geographical location can significantly impact AI engineer salaries. Tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, and Seattle tend to offer better compensation due to the higher cost of living, strong talent competition and the number of companies in the same industry that are competing to hire the ideal AI engineer.
It’s worth noting that remote work opportunities have expanded in recent years, allowing AI engineers to work for companies worldwide and potentially influencing salary expectations.
Industry and Company Size
The industry and size of the employing company can also affect an AI engineer’s salary. Large tech companies and industries such as finance, healthcare, and e-commerce tend to offer higher salaries compared to smaller startups or non-tech industries.
Skills and Specializations
AI is a vast field encompassing various specializations, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more. AI engineers with expertise in high-demand areas may command higher salaries due to the scarcity of professionals with those specific skills.
AI Engineer Salary Growth and Job Outlook
As AI continues to gain traction across industries, the demand for skilled professionals will only increase. With the growing demand for AI engineers, salaries are expected to rise steadily. Companies compete to attract top talent, and the compensation packages offered to AI engineers may become even more rewarding, including benefits such as stock options, bonuses, and other incentives.
In conclusion, embarking on a career as an AI engineer holds immense potential, offering rewards both intellectually and financially. The ongoing transformation of industries through AI technology ensures a persistent demand for skilled professionals in this field. While AI engineer salaries can vary based on several factors, including experience, education, location, industry, and specialization, it is important to recognize the excellent earning potential that the field offers.
Additionally, networking and collaboration with fellow professionals in the AI community can provide invaluable insights, foster innovation, and open doors to exciting opportunities. Engaging with industry experts, participating in conferences, and joining relevant communities or organizations will help you build a strong professional network, creating avenues for personal and career development.
In this dynamic and ever-evolving field, adaptability and agility are key. Embrace emerging technologies and continuously upgrade your skills to remain relevant and competitive. By staying at the forefront of AI advancements, you position yourself as a sought-after professional, capable of delivering innovative solutions to address complex challenges faced by industries worldwide.