Jobs in AI: A Look at AI Jobs Today and the careers Artificial Intelligence will create Tomorrow

Written by Scott Wilson

teamwork in the metaverse

Up until just a couple years ago, a career in AI was considered something that was exclusive to a handful of university researchers and elite computer scientists at big companies like Google or IBM.

While the possibility of thinking machines as a serious proposition came about not long after the end of the Second World War, some of the early attempts to get those efforts going fizzled out. A series of AI winters ensued, as government and industry funding dried up and researchers were forced to turn to other fields.

But spring came to the industry again in the early 2000s. Those few lonely researchers had achieved real breakthroughs in AI programming and training models. Using one of the critical toolsets in AI, machine learning, to analyze massive datasets spurred new developments in those algorithms and capabilities.

Hiring picked up. Money started to flow. According to the Stanford AI Index, nearly $50 billion flowed into AI investments in 2022. Almost 800,000 AI-related job openings appeared. Now they’re popping up in all kinds of industries, dealing with every conceivable use of artificial intelligence.

The AI summer is here. The right degree can angle you toward any one of those positions… and a healthy slice of that $50 billion.

The Three Educational Tracks to Artificial Intelligence Jobs Today

When AI was still crawling around in the nursery, it was the case that all AI careers were in computer science and research. The very few degrees that were available in the field were entirely aimed at discovery and exploration.

As the tools have become more useful and practical, however, both the education and career paths in AI have diverged.

There are essentially three general tracks to AI careers today…

Just as you find AI degree programs leading toward these areas, you will also find AI jobs that tend to fall into those general categories.

These are still early days for the AI industry, and the lines aren’t drawn in ink. It’s entirely possible to take a degree strong in theory and research and land a job in applied computer vision processing for analyzing CT scans, for instance. But you’ll find yourself sliding a little more smoothly down your chosen career path if you align your degree with your ideal job in the industry.

A Word About AI Job Titles

robot workerWhat’s in a name? A whole world of opportunities in the case of AI. But it’s also true that the virtual rose smells as sweet when it goes by more traditional titles.

Since AI is encroaching quickly in many established companies, it’s often the case that positions with a long history in computer science and information technology are starting to take on responsibilities for working with artificial intelligence. It’s a technology that is becoming fully integrated in positions like software engineer, developer, data scientist and other roles that have existed for decades.

So you’ll see plenty of hot jobs in artificial intelligence that don’t say anything about artificial intelligence in the title. We list those together with the newer terms wherever applicable below.

Where positions don’t specifically say so, you’ll have to drill down into the details to see how much of the job actually relates to AI. It’s a good bet, however, that more and more of the daily duties of such roles will involve AI, no matter what the original position looked like.

What Kind of Education Do You Need for Jobs in AI?

So what exactly does that education look like?

In every case, it’s intensive study in the essential fields that back up machine intelligence today:

There’s also a significant amount of research that happens in every type of AI degree program. We’re not entirely out of the discovery phase of AI yet. It’s going to be the Wild West for a while, and anyone who is serious about jobs in the field will have to keep up with the latest developments.

Each of the three paths comes with its own unique take on curriculum requirements. Compsci students will get more advanced mathematics and advanced theory; specialists in other fields like medical diagnostics will have crossover classes that combine their field with machine learning and programming; business-focused majors will get an extra helping of organizational and communication courses.

Different Degree Levels Affect Your Opportunities for Careers in AI

smart classroomBoth your knowledge and skill level to meet qualifications for different careers in AI careers will rest solidly on the type and level of degree that you earn.

There’s no one working in this field who doesn’t have university-level education in the subjects listed above. And in almost all cases, those are earned at the graduate level.

The work of discovery and creation in AI is being filled by graduates who have master’s or PhD credentials behind them, as well as years of experience. You shouldn’t expect to be on the front lines of new machine intelligence breakthroughs with anything less. A Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence or Master of Science in Machine Learning is the gold standard. Two years of advanced study and a thesis or capstone project that demonstrates your skills are enough for any employer in the business.

Getting out at the very front of the pack, however, and being able to access the most lucrative and impactful jobs, will often mean earning a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. With three years of study on top of your essential undergrad and graduate education, a doctorate is a big investment. But it’s also the best possible preparation for the most high-paying, exciting work in the field.

PhD grads are landing the jobs making the AI breakthroughs that are changing the world.

But after those breakthroughs happen, new tools and programs are built to put them to use. While much of the magic of AI is in its ability to improve and manage itself toward defined tasks, there are still going to be humans in the loop for the foreseeable future. And many of those who end up managing AI applications in the field won’t need the same depth of technical and research expertise. So, a Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence may increasingly be accepted for entry-level or applied AI positions… at least, until the AI itself takes over those jobs.

You’ll also find Associate of Applied Science in Artificial Intelligence and similar options increasingly available. These are more of a steppingstone toward a bachelor’s program, however. There aren’t really positions that an AS will clearly qualify you for in the industry… certainly not for long!

In the same way, a bachelor’s is best viewed as a steppingstone that prepares you for more advanced degrees in the field.

It’s also quite common to earn an undergraduate major in a subset of the skills that go into AI studies, like mathematics, computer science, or statistics. Picking the right specialization can pay dividends for your career later by increasing your expertise in that area.

AI Jobs for Computer Science and Research Specialists

mechanical engineerThe greatest number of jobs available in AI today fall into the broader field of computer science. As the place where all the core research is happening and the biggest breakthroughs are still waiting in the wings, much of the money and computational resources are going to fund positions that will answer the big questions still out there:

These aren’t small or easy problems. Consequently, requirements for these positions are usually on the high end… doctorates are common, and master’s degrees are really the minimum. Practical experience or involvement in leading research during your studies is also a big plus.

While each of these questions, and hundreds of others, spur their own unique investigative and organizational structures, you’ll find that jobs in this area tend to fall into one of three general categories.

AI Research Job Titles and Tasks

Pure AI research jobs are all about thinking and experimenting. These positions come with titles like:

They spend their days working on novel solutions to the tough challenges in AI. That involves hands-on tasks like:

It also involves a lot of thought and communication. Researchers may spend a lot of time in discussion and collaboration with peers, attending industry conferences, and reading or writing white papers or journal articles. They have a responsibility to stay on top of the latest technology and new theories that impact their specialty areas. And they may well forge entirely new specializations, and have to advocate for and prove their ideas.

AI Design and Development Job Titles and Tasks

microchip manufacturingWhile still focused on scientific approaches and pure uses of AI, design and development roles still have a more practical function than researchers. These are the jobs that take the purely theoretical breakthroughs and turn them into purposeful, reliable tools. They have titles like:

They will spend a lot of time working to understand the latest developments in the field as well, including doing a lot of the same reading as researchers. But they will also have to develop a greater understanding of potential uses of the technology. They’ll spend their days smoothing out the differences between theory and application like:

This all requires collaboration both up and down the chain, and an ability to look ahead to potential security and performance concerns.

AI Testing and Quality Assurance Job Titles and Tasks

Ultimately, where all the concerns of all sorts get hammered out falls to these jobs, however. They have titles like:

Their job is to help train and polish AI models. They work in the critical area of ensuring AI alignment with objectives and intended functions. This involves a lot of speculative testing, trying to break systems that no one really understands through outside-the-box prompts or unusual interactions.

Depending on the systems being tested, that can involve everything from training and testing algorithms through countless hours of chat conversations and prompts to putting various objects in front of cameras to learn how quickly and accurately computer vision is able to identify them and how long it takes. Documentation and communication are also a big deal in these roles, since flaws have to be shown clearly to developers back up the chain.

Where exactly you will be focusing your efforts in any of these roles, and how you’ll be using your skills, will rely on the company and industry you go to work for.

Companies Hiring Computer Science Professionals with AI Degrees

programmer on laptopSome technology companies hiring for AI jobs right now are focused entirely and exclusively on basic AI research, coming at it from a purely computer science perspective. The same is true in government and university research centers.

Core AI research is no longer only found in academia; by about 2014, corporations were releasing more new ML models and systems than universities.

But there are others, both in the startup phase and well-established industry giants, that are also putting together teams of top-notch AI engineering talent. They exist in sectors like:

Information Technology

IT organizations are going to be fundamentally responsible for implementing and managing AI in most organizations. Researchers and scientists for these companies will be looking at ways to develop AI to support their core products. Like Google’s Bard project and Microsoft’s coding support tool Copilot, their workday will revolve around exploring integrations to existing software or services.

Data Science

Data science is home to one of the pieces of the AI puzzle that has been blowing generative transformers into the stratosphere of global awareness: machine learning is the AI technique used to pour through terabytes of training material to teach machines to read, write, see, and talk. But that ability to process huge datasets quickly and to automate insight is useful in many aspects of data science. AI engineers here will spend their time working with databases and storage. They will help develop applications to speed up and enhance natural language queries for big data. That involves a lot of algorithmic and statistical modeling.


AI is both a potential weakness, a massive threat, and a powerful ally to the cybersecurity world. Computer scientists and organizations in this field are working out how to protect AI systems against adversarial attacks, how to defend conventional systems against polymorphic and biometric penetration by generative hacking system, and how to use AI defenses in new ways to detect and prevent breaches. They spend time analyzing threats and data and reviewing systems for vulnerabilities that AI can help protect.

Salaries for Computer Science Careers in Artificial Intelligence

electronic engineerThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the official source government and industry rely on for salary and employment data in the United States. Like most other organizations, though, they haven’t been able to keep pace with the latest developments in AI jobs.

So there’s no clear one-to-one connection between many of the job titles listed above, and official employment categories tracked by BLS. Where there is, it will also include many professionals working in computer science and IT on completely unrelated technologies. That means these aren’t extremely precise estimates, though they are the most accurate currently available. 

Salaries in this track of AI careers reflect the high-end educational credentials these jobs require.

What we’ve done is to take some of the most closely aligned roles to AI job titles and look at the salaries for the top ten percent of those positions. Since AI is hot, it’s a good bet that people working in the field are pulling in top dollar for their category. As such, we show the 90th percentile salaries as published by the BLS in 2022.

That results in annual salaries like:

Those are salaries across industries, though. It’s also possible to zoom in a bit and see where these professionals are most likely to be engaged in computer science-focused development.

Industry Categories Also Influence Salary Levels for Elite Computer Science AI Jobs

Only averages are available for these more focused roles. But that still gives you a baseline to look at with the assumption that most AI jobs in these industry categories will have a higher rate.

    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $156,870
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $136,200
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $110,840
    • Computer Programmers – $100,780
    • Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers – $115,820
    • Data Scientists – $117,800
    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $201,300
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $117,680
    • Computer Programmers – $108,580
    • Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers – $135,470
    • Data Scientists – $131,840
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – over $239,200

Not every industry has every role, of course. And this leaves out academia, where a big slice of AI research happens. But it covers the kinds of organizations that are hiring heavily in this field today, like OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the many startups getting involved in AI development.

And you recognize, just from seeing some of those names, that there can be a lot more to compensation than just your base salary in these roles. Stock options and juicy benefits are common across these industries.

AI Careers in Applied Roles for Business and Government

computer aided manufacturingIf the basic research jobs dominate AI employment today, it’s easy to look forward to a day not too far off where they are eclipsed by engineers working on the business applications for AI.

Taking those fundamental breakthroughs and turning them into useable applications requires its own kind of expertise. With the potential for almost any kind of business in every industry to be transformed by this technology, demand will be huge.

More roles are likely to open for people with undergraduate qualifications in this career track.

That also leads to a lot of variety in what these jobs will look like. At least initially, much of the work may be defining what can be done. People with degrees that hit all the marks in technical aspects of AI development but that also cover the liberal arts and communication skills will bring the vision to make that happen.

These jobs will often fill the role of translator. They’ll be the essential glue to tie together the potential of AI with the core goals and strategies of business. It will take real knowledge of the state-of-the-art capabilities of AI to see the possibilities.

No Matter What They Are Called, AI Careers in Business Offer Opportunities to Put Your Knowledge to Use

Precisely because there is such an overwhelming market for these types of AI careers, there are far too many individual job titles to list, or even to guess at. You’ll get a similar list of job titles to those found on the research and development side of artificial intelligence, in part:

But you’ll also see positions popping up in more applied areas:

You’ll also find that the tasks you are set to will be more applied in these roles. Pure R&D is out the window; instead, business AI experts will spend their days addressing real-world challenges that AI can solve:

You’ll also find the increasingly popular position of AI Prompt Engineer in this category, although engineering is a very loose description for a job that involves prompting LLMs and image generators to produce written and visual content. Few prompt positions call for the kind of qualifications that AI degree-holders possess.

Every Industry Will Offer Artificial Intelligence Career Paths at Some Point

big data analyticsOf course, almost every industry is in line for AI expertise to help adapt to the new world. The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence developed the Artificial Intelligence Index report in 2017 to track trends in AI, including developments in the AI job market.

As you might expect, the information technology industry sits on top of the sector with the greatest number of job postings for AI careers, other fields in the top ten include:

Various industries each have different and unique demands that AI can fill. A business-oriented degree in AI can help you land any of them.

Just a sampling of what is happening already in some of the most in-demand sectors where you will find business-focused AI careers can include:

Arts and Entertainment

Working in creative industries means an entirely different job environment than most AI experts experience. Day-to-day interaction with writers, artists, producers, and executives requires strong communication skills. These jobs also need flexibility and creativity to build tools and processes needed to realize the vision of artists.


Marketing work in AI also means interacting with creatives on a regular basis. AI here branches from the well-established role of data science, combing through trends and individual consumer data to identify prospects and opportunities.

Finance and Accounting

High finance is already going all-in on AI to speed up transactions, provide market insight, and automate basic financial advising and accounting services. Jobs in this area involve building new algorithms and using statistical analysis to hone a competitive advantage. These positions come with all the perks and pressures of work in a high-stakes, highly regulated industry.


Government AI jobs are likely to go down two paths. For one, regulatory and oversight issues will be front and center. Your expertise will go toward helping elected officials and enforcement agencies craft regulation suited to the emerging capabilities of AI systems. On the other side, government systems themselves will be making more use of AI. You’ll be responsible for integrating facial recognition, document processing, and other administrative AI into the business of governance.

A Wide Range of Salaries Are Found in Industries Hiring AI Engineering Experts

ai augmented reality in farmingThese are some of the areas in which AI jobs are emerging that don’t require a full master’s degree. The flip side of lower education requirements, of course, is lower salaries. So, we’ll present the median for these BLS-standard job categories, from median to the top ten percent. Look toward the higher end of the range the higher your educational credentials!

Of course, each industry sector itself will have different demands, profit margins, and difficulties that will all play into salaries. While it’s too much to list every industry where these jobs are taking off, you can see the average salary date for such jobs in these big-tent sectors to get some idea of the differences:

    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $118,020
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $163,220
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $105,790
    • Computer Programmers – $107,500
    • Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers – $124,880
    • Data Scientists – $117,720
laptop metrics
    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $115,330
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $121,880
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $91,020
    • Computer Programmers – $91,840
    • Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers – $89,020
    • Data Scientists – $82,840
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $80,080
    • Computer Programmers – $95,940
    • Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers – $107,950
    • Data Scientists – $85,180
    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $176.920
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $140,150
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $117,420
    • Computer Programmers – $104,640
    • Data Scientists – $117,110

Not every title is tracked in every sector. Keep in mind also that these are averages only; more qualifications and particularly higher degree levels are likely to push jobs above these numbers in any industry.

Also keep in mind that some sectors have different benefit structures than others. In high finance, for example, incentive bonuses are common. In government work, base salaries may seem low, but the job security, pension, healthcare, and other benefits are unparalleled.

Jobs in Artificial Intelligence Working in Specific and Highly Technical Fields

healthcare research using aiThere’s already healthy demand for AI experts in niche specialties where the potential for AI to take on important tasks requires deep subject-matter knowledge. In fact, the AI Index lists the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector right behind information technology as the top places to find AI job listings today.

This area is a bit like the applied business applications of AI on steroids. Most of these fields have seized on AI early on. In some cases, that happened via niche techniques like machine learning and computer vision processing that were precursors to the modern wave of generative AI systems.

The complexity of the tasks facing these niche areas are what truly sets them apart. Healthcare, as an industry, will adopt AI solutions all across the board. Many of them will solve common business needs, like running reception areas, answering billing questions, and scheduling appointments.

But there are also going to be jobs taking AI and fitting it to serious, and very difficult tasks like combining massive datasets from medical records to identify and analyze risks, trends, and treatments that human experts might never find. Those are the kind of jobs you’ll find on this path.

These are often efforts that are well underway today. Many are well-funded and making good progress. But they demand AI engineers who have both solid chops in core machine intelligence programming and in the specific challenges of the professional field those tools are being developed for.

Artificial Intelligence Careers Combine with In-Depth Subject Expertise in Technical Positions

The titles for some of these positions will reflect what you find in the other areas of AI education and employment:

And, as you can see, those titles may or may not actually have the term AI in them. The same is true of job roles that are more descriptive of the applications being developed:

More than either of the other areas, though, careers in highly specialized technical areas may simply reflect the profession rather than the technology. After all, a physician who goes out and picks up a degree in AI to work on NLP analysis of unstructured medical record data isn’t going to give up the title of doctor in favor of AI engineer. But sometimes you get a blend, like the role of Computational Epidemiologist, or Medical Artificial Intelligence Research Scientist.

What Industries Have Jobs in AI for Specific Technical Professionals?

industrial robotics engineerThis is an area of AI employment where the industry really makes the experience. You’ll find radically different salaries, working environments, and day-to-day duties from specialty to specialty. A day exploring the inner mysteries of brain regions through AI algorithms processing neuroimaging scans will offer very different experiences than working on cross-country terrain mapping interpretation for overland drone navigation.

These kinds of specialized applications of AI are commonly found in niche industries, such as:

It’s a good bet that any area that requires advanced expertise, has critical functions, and that absolutely must be reliable and safe will soon offer jobs for highly technical and specific AI professional roles.

Of course, it’s mostly going to be people already involved in these fields who will be getting the degrees necessary to build AI expertise for these jobs. So you already know exactly what industry you are interested in, and which companies are on the cutting edge of AI development.

AI Salary Rates May Be Highest for Those with Extra Expertise in Other Professions

Since the range of industries and responsibilities are so sweeping for these roles, there’s no reasonable way to come up with an average salary figure. Instead, the best we can offer is a combination of some of the BLS job categories most likely to include AI experts together with some of the industries that are already generating demand for that expertise.

    • Computer Systems Analysts – $108,470
    • Data Scientists – $91,770
    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $141,230
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $118,480
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $121,580
    • Data Scientists – $92,970
    • Computer and Information Research Scientists – $162,400
    • Computer Hardware Engineers – $167,540
    • Computer Systems Analysts – $129,070
    • Data Scientists – $126,280

It’s also important to keep in mind that in this area, many professionals already pull down salaries that are higher than purely technical jobs bring in. Again, using a doctor specializing in AI as the example, the average salary for physicians and surgeons in 2022 was $229,300 per year. No one is taking a pay cut to get into AI. In fact, they are likely to make even more.

Artificial Intelligence Careers of Tomorrow

brain in ai machine learningNot too long after you finish reading this, everything will change.

AI is being compared to the invention of powered flight, or the internal combustion engine, or even fire in some circles. And just as only sixty-five years passed between the first flight at Kitty Hawk and men flying to the moon, artificial intelligence is a field that will advance quickly.

When you train a machine that thinks at a pace of around half a billion instructions per second to teach itself new things, advances are going to come pretty fast.

So, the jobs involved in designing, programming, and educating these systems are going to change fast, too. What does the moon landing of AI look like?

How to Get a Job in AI as the Singularity Approaches

digital avatar in vrAGI, or artificial general intelligence, is the goal for many researchers. Creating a machine that can think and reason at first on par with human beings, and then to exceed our abilities, is the dream. But it’s not called the singularity for nothing. Such an invention is beyond our capacity to see past in time.

Along the way, though, it’s a safe bet that any career in artificial intelligence will only shift to more high-level engagement. While today the heavy lifting is happening in code and with data, future jobs in AI may involve a lot more interaction with AI itself. You may simply ask an algorithm to adjust itself rather than diving under the hood. Rather than sifting through logs and traces to see how an answer was determined, you may just ask a chat bot why it replied the way it did.

Before too long, the role of AI Prompt Engineer may be replaced by AI Psychologist.

AI will also be applied to more and more challenging professional tasks. That’s likely to mean at first a surge in jobs in the business and governance sectors, and then in the technical specialist career track.

And as AI capabilities expand, experts in ethics and regulation will certainly be in demand. Guiding responsible development and use will require an intimate idea of how AI works, as well as a strong grasp of morality and philosophy.

It’s impossible to see exactly how career paths will shift and turn along the way. But what you can be sure of is that a degree in artificial intelligence will give you a compass with which to find the way.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Computer and Information Research Scientists, Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Systems Analysts, Data Scientists, Computer Programmers, and Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2023.