What it takes to get a job in AI or machine learning


While there is some debate over whether there’s an AI talent shortage, there’s no doubt that a growing number of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) job openings are being created as enterprises seek to launch and expand their own intelligent machine initiatives.

But what skills and experience do enterprise workers need to land a high-paying AI/ML job? There’s a pretty wide range, it turns out. And that’s because there are a lot of different AI and ML roles, with more emerging every year. There are listings on job sites today for AI architects, AI product managers, AI software engineers, ML experts, ML data scientists, ML R&D engineers, and many more.

While all of these job listings cite knowledge requirements for successful applicants (such as certain programming languages), I thought it might be useful to compile a list of skills/suggestions, curated from across the web, that might help people interested in AI/ML jobs move toward that goal:

What Skills Do I Need To Get a Job In Artificial Intelligence?

“Candidates interested in pursuing jobs in this field require specific education based on foundations of math, technology, logic, and engineering perspectives,” writes Computer Science Degree Hub (CSDH). “Written and verbal communication skills are also important to convey how AI tools and services are effectively employed within industry settings.”

There is no escaping the importance of those soft skills! And that’s the edge humans always will have over machines, until they don’t.

Key Skills You Need To Grab a Machine Learning Job in 2019

Among the suggestions in this TechGenix article:

  • Learning the prominent ML languages (C++, R, Hadoop)
  • Brush up on statistics and probability skills
  • Understand distributed computing

5 Careers In Artificial Intelligence and the Skills You Need To Get Hired

Here’s a partial list of courses from online tech education site Springboard that AI job candidates should have under their belts:

  • Bayesian networking (including neural nets)
  • Cognitive science theory
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Robotics

Top 7 Key Skills Required for Machine Learning Jobs

“A good candidate should have a deep understanding of a broad set of algorithms and applied math, problem-solving and analytical skills, probability and statistics and programming languages such as Python/C++/R/Java,” according to Big Data Made Simple (BDMS).

The educational and resource site hits on several of the suggested skills above (Python/C++/R/Java, lots of probability and statistics, distributed computing), then adds yet another soft skill — more of a trait, really — to the mix:

“Beyond all, Machine Learning requires innate curiosity, so if you never lost the curiosity you had when you were a child, you’re a natural candidate for Machine Learning.”

Bottom line: If you’re truly interested in an AI/ML career, online (and maybe in-house) informational and educational resources are available to help you get there. Explore what you might be interested in, figure out the avenues that will lead there, and then get started.


  1. Mark Payne says:

    Chris – can I suggest that Regulatory and Legal knowledge and experience is also needed for AI and ML? I work in Healthcare where National Regulatory Authorities are expecting AI product development to conform to industry safety standards and Lawyers are looking to understand product liability for deployed systems. AI and ML are taking us in to uncharted territory for safety and liability and developers need to be aware of these additional responsibilities. Mark

    • chrisnerney says:

      You certainly can! Great additions to the viable pathways leading to AI and ML careers, particularly for people who aren’t from the IT world. Thanks for the contribution, Mark.

  2. Some reading materials on this topic from Microsoft and Google:
    -> https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/our-approach-to-ai
    -> https://ai.google/principles/

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