How To Start A Career In Artificial Intelligence In 2021

The average annual salaries of machine learning engineers and data scientists are much higher than DevOps engineers, software engineers and web developers.


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is already shaping our future, and the demand for talented engineers is skyrocketing. According to the Market Research Future report, the machine learning market is projected to be worth almost $31 billion by 2024.

At SkillUp 2021, Nitin Gupta, technology head for digital innovations at India Today and Great Learning mentor and alumni, spoke in detail about artificial intelligence as a career.


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With 14 years of experience in engagement and delivery, technical program management and agile software development, Gupta has worked with companies like Lenskart and Senior World. He also co-founded Zercross, a mobile and web application startup. 

Applications in AI 

Artificial intelligence has impacted every industry. Gupta believes most AI innovation is happening in research and development labs of big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

AI has applications in areas including:

  • Healthcare 
  • Business 
  • Education 
  • Autonomous vehicles 
  • Social media 
  • Travel and tourism 
  • Create a better world 

Later, Gupta riffed on a few subsets of artificial intelligence, including natural language processing (NLP), computer vision etc. 

Source: Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine 

Gupta also talked about the life cycle of an AI project for a typical organisation:

  • Data engineering: Prepares data and transforms data into formats that other team members can use.
  • Modeling: Looks for patterns in data that can help a company predict outcomes of various decisions, business risks and opportunities, or determine cause-and-effect relationships. 
  • Deployment: Takes a stream of data, combines it with a model, and test the integration before putting the model into production.
  • Business analysis: Evaluates a deployed model’s performance and business value and adjusts accordingly to maximise benefit or abandon unproductive models.
  • AI infrastructure: Builds and maintains reliable, fast, secure and scalable software systems to help people working in data engineering, modeling, deployment and business analysis.

Source: Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine (AI project development life cycle)

Based on these tasks, Gupta highlighted various job roles in the field such as data scientists, machine learning engineer, data analysts, software engineer – ML, machine learning researcher and software engineer, among others. 

Source; Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine 

“Though there are quite a lot of overlaps with the kind of tasks that each of these individual roles manages, the extent of the skills required on each task complement each other.” 

Citing the difference between machine learning engineers and data scientists, Gupta said ML engineers need more hands-on data engineering, modeling, deployment, and AI infrastructure. In contrast, the data scientist role focuses on tasks such as data engineering, modeling and business analysis. 

Source: Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine (Tasks and skill requirement for machine learning engineer job) 

Skill-wise, machine learning engineers need to have a software engineering background, algorithmic coding and machine learning skills. On the other hand, data scientists need to have experience in machine learning, mathematics, data science and business acumen. 

Source: Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine (Task and skill required for a data scientist job)

“Salaries in AI and ML job profiles are higher compared to other job roles, including full-stack, back-end and front end engineer or native engineers in Android or iOS. However, the pay scale also depends on various factors like education background, interview process, skills and experience among others,” explained Gupta. 

Quoting the report of Indeed, from 2016 to 2018, Gupta said the demand for artificial intelligence jobs has been increasing multifold year-on-year (YoY).

Source: Indeed (Salaries in artificial intelligence) 

Gupta said the average annual salaries of machine learning engineers and data scientists are much higher than DevOps engineers, software engineers and web developers. Further, he said machine learning and data scientists are currently among the top 20 emerging jobs globally.

Source: Skillup 2021, Analytics India Magazine 

In India, Bengaluru, Delhi NCR and Mumbai are the top three locations for AI/ML jobs, followed by Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai, Gupta shared. 

“Always be curious as this will help you in the long run,” concluded Gupta, stating AI will remain at the core of technology innovation and business growth going forward. 

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Amit Raja Naik
Amit Raja Naik is a seasoned technology journalist who covers everything from data science to machine learning and artificial intelligence for Analytics India Magazine, where he examines the trends, challenges, ideas, and transformations across the industry.

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