A person considering a degree in information or computer science may wonder, “How is the career outlook for artificial intelligence jobs?” Artificial intelligence jobs are combined with other computer and information research science jobs by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Knowing about the current and future job outlook for this career could help a person decide if this is an area of expertise they want to enter.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
There are many definitions of artificial intelligence (AI) around. The simplest is that it is “human-like” behavior by a machine. It includes the use of robots or other machines and involves learning, reasoning and problem-solving. A definition of AI from the IBM website says that “AI is part of our everyday lives…AI is completing our words as we type them, providing driving directions when we ask, vacuuming our floors and recommending what we should buy or binge-watch next.”
Artificial intelligence attempts to simulate the way a human mind works. One of the aspects of AI is using a neural network, which is the mechanical equivalent of the neuron system in our brains. Another goal of the science, however, is to include the nuances and idiosyncrasies of human thought ( things like biases, faith and ethics) into the computational abilities of the computers.
History of AI
When many people think of artificial intelligence, the image of Hal 9000 emerges. Hal was the red-eyed computer in the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It powered and controlled the spaceship Discovery One and interacted with the crew in a sinister plot. The concept of artificial intelligence actually emerged in 1950 when Alan Turing advanced the controversial idea that machines could learn. The first AI program appeared in 1956. It was called Logic Theorist. In 1967 the Mark One Perceptron computer demonstrated that it could learn through trial and error.
Since then, artificial intelligence has been the subject of countless research projects and many sci-fi stories. In 1988, an online game called “20Q” ( Twenty Questions) was introduced that began as an experiment. People thought of a word and the computer asked questions to guess what it was. If the computer was stumped, it asked the player for input about what mistakes it had made. Watson, the IBM computer, defeated Jeopardy expert Ken Jennings in 2011.
Today AI does everything from assisting drivers to parallel park to making investments in the stock market. There is still speculation about whether it is a genie let out of a bottle, and whether ethics and morals should play a part in the development of the programs that power the computers.
Types of Learning
Since the time when Turing postulated that machines could learn, science has found that there are two types of learning used by AI. The first is machine learning. That is computer learning that consists of three layers. The first is the input, or data that is given to the machine. The enormous volume of available data is what fuels this learning. The machine has another layer of information that contains the biases of its programmers, moral and ethical considerations, stored concepts of the weights of certain factors and other things. It processes the input data using these ideas. The third layer in machine learning is the output. That is, it is the conclusions or solutions reached by the computer after the data is processed.
The second type, deep learning, is similar with one exception. The difference is that this learning has more information hidden in the second layer. That additional information allows the machine to apply more “tests” to the data and to eliminate certain results from its solutions. In effect, the machine teaches itself to solve more and more difficult problems based upon the previous solutions and gets more accurate with every experience.
Types of AI
Using the two types of learning, scientists have classified AI types by their function. Depending on the information source, the types have differing names, but the same functional divisions.
• Interactive AI: this is possibly the most recognizable type. It includes Siri and Amazon’s Alexa as well as other virtual assistants. It also includes robots that vacuum floors and perform other activities, even to being a “chatbot” or virtual companion.
• Text AI: this type of machine intelligence translates ideas between languages and turns text into words. It is used, for example, to give blind people access to social media and phone texting.
• Functional AI: this is learning that scans for patterns and sentiments to provide solutions that are more like human interaction. This type of artificial intelligence can recognize a problem in the output data from a particular machine that signals a malfunction. The computer then can make the decision to shut down the malfunctioning machine. Another application is in risk assessment when a computer understands things like weather patterns, international politics and other factors to predict the risk of investments or possible damage from weather events.
• Visual AI: this is the ability of the computer to “see” objects. That vision can be used to identify buildings and land masses, sort objects and perform other tasks. It also is the intelligence behind face recognition applications.
Additionally, artificial intelligence is classified by whether it is “narrow” or “artificial general intelligence.” Narrow intelligence is that which equips a machine to perform specific tasks. Watson’s defeat of Ken Jennings is an example of a narrow intelligence. The computer was programmed to learn trivia facts and interpret questions. Alexa and Siri are other computers with narrow learning. The nomenclature is deceptive. This learning is not narrow at all, but involves very sophisticated data processing.
Artificial general intelligence is a concept that, according to the IBM article, has no practical purpose. That is because it is just theoretical. Machines in this level, however, would not only solve problems, but choose which problems they “wanted” to solve. Although they would perform more like a human brain, their intelligence would far surpass that of their human counterparts.
Current Employment Numbers and Projections for the Future
BLS statistics show that there are about 31,700 jobs in computer and information science. This includes artificial intelligence specialist jobs. By 2028, the BLS expects this number to grow to about 37,000 jobs, for an increase of about 5,300 jobs. This is a 16 percent growth rate, which surpasses the combined expected 5 percent growth rate of all jobs between May 2018 and 2028. Even if there is a downturn in the economy, this should not have a negative effect on the number of information science and artificial intelligence jobs.
An article in Forbes Magazine sources LinkedIn data that shows jobs in data science engineering are surpassing positions in traditional engineering as the top-rated jobs. The field of robotics has emerged as a job field in its own right. In fact, more than 50 percent of engineering positions were in robotics engineering, and the field of artificial intelligence specialist hiring has grown 74 percent in the last four years. Fifteen percent of companies report using AI this year; by next year that figure is expected to double. Since 2000, the number of AI startup companies has grown buy a factor of 14. One of the top-ranked robotics companies, UiPath, was valued at $7billion this year. Artificial intelligence is becoming such an integral part of culture that although only a third of consumers say they use it, data shows that figure is closer to 77 percent.
Some of the top-rated jobs in artificial intelligence are:
• Machine learning engineer: base salary $146,085
• AI research scientist: base salary $136,233
• Software developer: base salary $104,463
• Robotics scientist: base salary $88,900
• Business intelligence developer : base salary $70,056
All of these jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and most require a master’s degree or a doctorate. High salaries are a big draw for positions in artificial intelligence, and so is job satisfaction. The website kdnuggets says machine learning engineers have the highest job satisfaction followed by data and business intelligence scientists. It is important to note that the job satisfaction drops after four years, but that is true of most professions.
It is a good thing that these positions pay well: they require a lot of education, so high salaries may indicate a good return on a student’s investment. People in artificial intelligence should have an educational background in math, including higher math, calculus, algorithms, statistics and probability and other mathematics courses. They should understand and be proficient in concepts of graphic modeling and neural nets. Of course, there should be a good foundation in physics, engineering and robotics as well as computer skills and competencies in coding, programming languages and computer infrastructures. Additionally, the educational background of someone in artificial intelligence should include psychology and developmental studies.
These people should be analytical types with good problem-solving abilities. They must also have good communication skills.
State and Metropolitan Data for Artificial Intelligence Job Growth
There are a few ways to look at the location information for artificial intelligence and information science jobs. The jobs can be looked at by numeric total or by location quotient. The location quotient refers to the number of jobs per 1,000 total jobs. The states with the highest numeric total for computer and artificial intelligence jobs are California, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, and Washington. The states with the highest location quotient are Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, and District of Columbia. The metropolitan areas with the highest numbers of these jobs are District of Columbia, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle.
Areas of Computer and Information Science With the Most Potential
According to the BLS, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence experts will have a higher than average demand for their services through 2028 and beyond. This is because businesses are in increasing need of protection for their data and their eCommerce networks. People with expertise in artificial intelligence may have an even higher job outlook than the anticipated 16 percent growth rate because of the increased demand for small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and large corporations to protect their information and networks and to anticipate the behaviors of their customers.
How a Person in Artificial Intelligence Can Boost Their Job Prospects
Anyone who plans to work in artificial intelligence should continue the learning process and stay up-to-date with the latest in hacking techniques. A person who already works in artificial intelligence may want to add a layer of expertise in cybersecurity or algorithm development. Earning an advanced degree and maintaining current skills on all of the mobile platforms will also help with a person’s job prospects in a competitive hiring environment.
The companies that develop programs and software for computer applications such as artificial intelligence often offer training and certification in their systems to students who successfully pass an exam. It would be advantageous for people who want to increase their chances of landing a good job in AI to become certified in the programs and the languages used in coding and in machine learning concepts. It is also important to know where you want to work so that you can ascertain which certifications would be the most important to your employer.
Anyone who is considering a college major or a concentration within their major should know what the BLS predicts for the profession. Knowing if the number of jobs is likely to increase, what the expected rate of pay will be and how much demand there will be for such workers could make it easier for a person to plan their future. Learning the answer to, “How is the career outlook for artificial intelligence jobs?” could also help a person decide which jobs to apply for upon completing their degree.
Artificial intelligence is such an exciting and innovative field. In the future, it will affect everything from the way we entertain ourselves to the way we learn, from the way we travel to the way we get health care and it will change life dramatically. Surgeons will have a valuable ally in performing delicate surgeries and people will not be required to perform dangerous tasks. AI may replace humans in doing arduous or unhealthy jobs. That last observation is important for anyone considering the outlook for artificial intelligence. In the early 1900s, the assembly line and mechanization replaced workers in auto plants and other industries, but new jobs emerged. There will always be a need for human input in artificial intelligence. After all, the definition of the field is an emulation of the way humans behave. As AI closes some doors it will open wide the doors to new possibilities. The outlook for artificial intelligence jobs is bright.
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