Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in the headlines of tech magazines and news articles nearly every day since the technology first became accessible to the public. It’s an exponentially growing field that will only continue to need AI engineers to manage these systems. But how much do AI engineers make? Let’s take a closer look.
What is an AI Engineer?
An AI engineer is essentially the human behind the technology, using AI and machine learning to help develop applications and systems of various kinds. Any app that mimics human behavior, including learning and gathering data, may be considered artificial intelligence — basically, anything that automatically improves over time through data.
An AI engineer focuses on the development of the tools, processes, and technology that bring AI from the theoretical into the real world. They help create technology like self-driving cars, AI surgical robots, and writing assistants, as well as more behind-the-scenes tech that may be less obvious to the average person. For example, Google, YouTube, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and even Spotify use AI learning to drive tailored suggestions based on your behavior on the app.
What Does an AI Engineer Do?
In their day-to-day, AI engineers are literally paving the landscape of the future, innovating, and using the human brain to its full potential to help chart AI strategy, build the infrastructure, and develop technology to solve problems. Here are just a few of the common responsibilities of an artificial intelligence engineer:
- Theorize, strategize, create, and manage AI frameworks
- Analyze and interpret data to optimize performance
- Build AI models from the ground up
- Help define AI best practices and codes of ethics
- Work with various coding languages for AI development
- Collaborate with various teams, such as data scientists, designers, product managers, and stakeholders
- Define new ways to solve real-world problems
Job Landscape for AI Engineers
With how prevalent AI is in our current world — not to mention where it will be as we continue to develop it — you can imagine that the career landscape for an AI engineer is very bright. With expected growth of 21% from now through 2031, there are thousands of new job opportunities opening up each year.
Still, there’s a skills gap of about 66%, meaning the industry needs more and more qualified professionals to fill these roles. According to this Forrester report, enterprises of all kinds will adapt and implement AI in their workplace, allowing the machine learning engineer a vast selection of companies to work for. Becoming an AI engineer is more lucrative than ever before.
What is the Average AI Engineer Salary?
As with any tech gig, there are various factors that can affect the AI engineer salary range. Things like education, experience, location, company, job level, and other factors will play into the equation.
At a national level, however, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the AI engineer average salary is about $131,000. Keep in mind, this is the average; so, with the right training, experience, and location, the earning potential is even greater. And this is not a US-only trend: these substantially high salaries continue for AI job openings around the globe.
AI Engineer Salary by Education Level
It’s no surprise that education plays a significant role in the starting salary of an AI engineer. In fact, it can also play into eligibility for certain companies that require a particular level of education to be considered.
That said, many technology companies put a heavy emphasis on skill sets and experience over an institutional education; it just depends on the business’s preferences. Different careers within the AI field will also command different salaries.
Becoming an AI engineer is more lucrative than ever before. Below we’ve outlined some rough numbers for how much money an AI engineer can make, based on their education.
- Salary of an AI engineer with a bachelor’s degree: According to Indeed, an AI engineer (or machine learning engineer) that holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar major can typically expect to earn around $98,000 per year.
- Salary of an AI engineer with a master’s degree: Those who completed their master’s degree in a relevant computer science field make an average of $102,000, according to Payscale.
- Salary of an AI engineer who graduated from coding bootcamp: According to Career Karma, coding bootcamp graduates typically make about $86,500 at their first job after graduation, which includes benefits and bonuses.
AI Engineer Salary by Experience Level
Professional experience also significantly influences the earning potential of an AI engineer, as there is quite a lot of room for growth in the role. Someone fresh out of bootcamp joining the workforce at a junior level will start out lower than a senior AI engineer with years of hands-on experience. Below are some averages, as reported by Springboard.
- Entry-level AI engineer salary: An entry-level AI engineer who is green to the industry has between 0 to 4 years of experience and makes an average of about $98,000 per year.
- Mid-level AI engineer salary: Those in the middle range with 5 to 9 years of experience make closer to $112,000.
- Senior AI engineer salary: They also report that the senior AI engineer salary can be as high as nearly $200,000 annually, with an average hovering around $135,000.
AI Engineer Salary by Location
Another factor that plays into salary opportunities for AI engineers is their location. According to ZipRecruiter, the cities where an AI engineer can make the most money are New York, NY along with several California cities, such as Mountain View, San Francisco, and Fremont.
States like New York, California, Washington, and Utah have the highest earning potential overall. But even as you continue down this list from Talent.com, the drop in average annual salary remains in the triple digits. For example, New York machine learning engineers earn around $173,000 while those in Utah make about $167,500. Even the lowest reported earning state, Ohio, sits around a comfortable $115,000.
Skill Sets That Affect AI Engineer Salaries
An individual’s skill set will also affect their earning potential. And the skills they need are continually changing to keep up with advancing technology and include new and relevant knowledge. Understanding which skills boost AI engineer pay can help you build an education roadmap and select additional courses to focus on specialized training.
According to Upgrad, some of the key skills that affect the salary of a machine learning engineer include Scala, data modeling, Apache Spark, PyTorch, image processing, big data analytics, software development, and natural language processing (NLP).
Start Developing Your AI Skills with App Academy
Ranked one of the top engineering coding bootcamps by Course Report, Switchup, and Career Karma, App Academy can help you start on the path toward becoming an AI engineer.
While App Academy’s programs don’t directly prepare you to jump right into AI development, our full-time and part-time immersive online programs teach you the foundations you need to start a new career path and continue to build even more specific skills.
Schedule a call with an App Academy admissions counselor to learn more about our programs. And, if you’re ready to dig in deeper, start exploring our programs to see which one might be a good fit for you!