How to Become an AI Engineer

Article reading time: 8 min. | 05. Feb 2024, written by Margherita Seppi
Tags AIEngineering ArtificialIntelligenceCareer MachineLearningJobs AIEducation TechCareerPath

How to Become an AI Engineer in a Nutshell:

  • AI engineering combines computer science disciplines including data science and machine learning.
  • Job growth for AI engineers is robust, with high salary potential across various industries.
  • Daily tasks involve designing AI models, performing statistical analysis, and programming.
  • Essential skills include expertise in machine learning, coding, and problem-solving abilities.
  • A step-by-step guide: earn a relevant degree, gain experience, and continuously update skills.
  • Pursue specialised education and practical projects to build a professional AI engineering portfolio.

Are you fascinated by the world of artificial intelligence? Do you often find yourself asking: "how can I become an AI engineer?" If so, then you're in the right place!

In this comprehensive guide, we're going to unveil the process of becoming an AI engineer, the skills required, and the opportunities within this burgeoning field.

Plus, we'll delve into the importance of continuous learning and professional development.

Whether you're an aspiring AI engineer or considering a mid-career transition into the world of AI, we've got you covered. Spend some time with us, and by the end of this article, you'll have a solid roadmap for how to become an AI engineer.

What is AI engineering?

Simply stated, artificial intelligence Engineering is a multidisciplinary blend of several branches of computer science, and it's the driving force behind many of the innovative advancements we see today. It incorporates elements of data science, artificial intelligence, statistical analysis and complex networks to fabricate highly intelligent machine learning algorithms and models.

The primary goal of AI engineering is to design intricate software systems that mimic the capabilities of the human brain. These cover a wide spectrum - from understanding and processing natural language and recognizing complex structures in a visual field, to making calculated decisions and even learning from past experiences.

The heart and soul of artificial intelligence engineering lie in creating artificial intelligence models, often referred to as AI models, that can generate valuable insights in various sectors, ranging from healthcare to finance to business operations.

At its core, AI engineering is reliant on the application of various types of machine learning algorithms, programming languages, and data structures to build, test, and deploy AI models, which are then capable of performing tasks requiring human-like intelligence.

AI engineering career prospects and salaries

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AI engineering jobs are on the rise across numerous industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of AI jobs is expected to increase by 23% over the next decade - almost 5 times as much as the overall industry growth rate. In 2020, Forbes analysed data from LinkedIn and declared AI specialist as the top emerging job on the market.

The average salary of an AI engineer in the United States currently sits at around $120,000 per year (according to Glassdoor). Adobe has recently posted an AI engineer position offering up to $250,000 per year. Clearly, AI engineering salaries are some of the highest in the world.

Given the potential of AI and deep learning to spot trends and make predictions, well-trained AI engineers are in high demand, and prospects seem set to grow even further.

What does an AI engineer do?

Have you ever wondered about the daily responsibilities of artificial intelligence engineers? You're not alone! With careers in artificial intelligence engineering on the rise, a lot of people share your curiosity.

AI engineers are primarily tasked with designing and implementing AI models by harnessing machine learning and data science. They play a crucial role, working hand-in-hand with a data science team to bring theoretical data science concepts to life with practical applications.

Their tasks are varied and encompass several areas. A few notable responsibilities of artificial intelligence engineers include:

Man with glasses and a jean shirt looks focused to test machine learning models
  • Building artificial intelligence systems and AI models that can process and learn from large volumes of data to uncover valuable insights
  • Performing statistical analysis and complex network programming
  • Deploying the applications they build to production environments
  • Implementing proper data sharing techniques that promote data accessibility
  • Keeping artificial intelligence systems up-to-date by conducting maintenance and continuously improving these systems

What sets AI engineers apart from traditional software engineers is their ability to work with highly complex data structures, neural networks, deep learning and other sophisticated machine learning models. It's all about leveraging vast computational power to solve complex challenges.

AI engineering: scope

With the technology landscape constantly evolving, the scope of AI engineering is steadily increasing as well.

AI is often likened to the human brain of computer systems, having the uncanny ability to replicate human intelligence, understand and learn from complex data, automate processes, and solve problems efficiently.

From offering valuable business insights that drive strategic decision-making to streamlining business process management, AI-based applications are seeing widespread adoption in various realms.

We've even highlighted some of the major benefits AI has brought to higher education, like the wide range of time management tools students can now use.

Skills required for an AI engineer

Man and woman sitting in front of their desktops talking about how to build ai models

Now that we understand what AI engineering is and what an artificial intelligence engineer does, let's look at the skills you will need to become an AI engineer.

In AI engineering, just as with other branches of computer science, possessing a blend of technical and soft skills is crucial.

Technical skills

To be an AI engineer, you will need to develop a strong foundation in several key technical areas:

  • Machine Learning: AI Engineers must have an in-depth knowledge of machine learning and deep learning algorithms. They should be adept at building and testing machine learning models and utilizing them in AI projects.
  • Programming: AI Engineers need to have solid programming skills. Familiarity with popular programming languages such as Python, R, or Java is a prerequisite for most AI engineering positions.
  • Statistics and Linear Algebra: An in-depth understanding of statistics and linear algebra is essential to AI engineering, to help understand data patterns and make accurate predictions.
  • Natural Language Processing: AI engineers working with systems that interact with humans, such as chatbots or voice assistants, must grapple with Natural Language Processing.
  • Computer Vision: Being able to process and analyze images with AI is key to developing a range of tech such as facial recognition systems or autonomous vehicles, making computer vision an important part of an AI engineer's toolkit.

Soft skills

In addition to these technical skills, several soft skills are also instrumental:

  • Problem-solving abilities: AI engineering is all about creating effective solutions, and possessing strong problem-solving capabilities is essential to an AI engineer's success.
  • Creativity: AI engineers must continually innovate and devise ingenious ways to capitalize on AI technology. Creative problem-solving is essential for effectively leveraging AI.
  • Business acumen: Understand the business and industry that you operate in - AI engineers can develop solutions that aren't just technologically progressive, but also commercially viable.

How to become an AI engineer in 3 steps

Are you pumped up and ready to embark on your journey to become an artificial intelligence engineer? Great! Here are the three key steps you need to follow.

Happy guy taking notes for his artificial intelligence courses

Step 1: getting the required education

Embarking on the path to becoming an AI engineer typically begins with obtaining a Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline such as computer science, data science, or software development.

The curriculum for these degree programs often includes courses in machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing, providing the foundation you need for a career in AI engineering.

But don't stop there! Given the rapidly evolving landscape of AI and machine learning, many aspiring AI engineers also choose to pursue a Master's degree specializing in artificial intelligence. This provides more in-depth knowledge and specialization in the field, supporting your ultimate goal to become an AI engineer.

At IU International University of Applied Sciences, we offer 8 different MA degrees in artificial intelligence specialisations, covering everything from FinTech to the car industry.

A group of smart people discussing common machine learning models

Step 2: gathering experience through projects

Theoretical knowledge isn't enough; practical implementation is key to success in the field of AI engineering.

Working on real-life projects, something akin to creating a simple machine learning model to predict stock market trends, or devising an AI-enabled chatbot service, aligns theoretical concepts with real-life applications.

Don't neglect the advantage a robust portfolio of completed AI projects can bring. It's a brilliant way to demonstrate your aptitude, versatility, and innovative capabilities to potential employers - so it's definitely worth the effort!

Guy with glasses is pointing at the desktop and discussing tasks with his colleague as skilled ai engineers

Step 3: honing the skills and staying up-to-date

Last but not least, remember that AI is a rapidly changing field. It's vital to stay updated on the latest advancements, including new machine learning models, AI development processes, and emerging AI technologies.

Frequent self-study, enrolling in online courses, attending seminars, and participating in relevant workshops are excellent ways to stay at the top of your game.

Like in other parts of the computer science world, continuous learning and upgrading your skillsets should be an ongoing process in the life of any successful artificial intelligence engineer.

Become an AI engineer with IU´s degrees!

Embarking on a career as an AI engineer is an exciting and rewarding journey. If you like challenges and thinking outside the box, working as an AI engineer can be not only rewarding (and it is VERY rewarding), but also really fun and self-fulfilling.

To help you get started, we've put together this handy list of degrees offered at IU that will help you either start your career in AI, or transition from another field.

Our degrees are all designed to fit the requirements of the job market, giving you the ready-for-work skills that will ensure a smooth entry into the AI job market.

Remember, to become an AI engineer, you'll need more than just academic knowledge. Build on your education with hands-on experience, continuous learning, and a sprinkling of resilience, and you're on your way to a successful AI engineering career.


How much does an AI engineer earn?

While the average annual salary of an AI engineer can greatly vary depending on factors such as geographical location, years of experience, and level of expertise, entry-level AI engineers can expect a competitive salary, with the potential to rise significantly as they gather more experience and expertise - as high as $450,000 per year.

What are the main jobs of an AI engineer?

In essence, AI engineers hold a pivotal role at the crossroads of data science and computer engineering. They are primarily responsible for creating AI models using programming languages, turning data science concepts into tangible deliverables, and continuously maintaining and refining these models to ensure their effectiveness and relevance.

What is the qualification for AI engineering?

Qualified AI engineers are usually expected to possess a Bachelor's degree in computer science, data science or a related field. However, given the complexity and rapidly changing nature of the field, many AI engineers choose to further their education with a Master's degree in AI or a related specialization.

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