Listen to this story
The hot new job in the market, prompt engineering, was believed to be the “job of the future”, but is a reality already. The best part, or probably the scariest for a lot of programmers, is that it pays a bomb. The concern is that one does not require the knowledge or understanding of a single programming language to get this job.
Back in 2017, a report by the Institute of the Future stated that 85% of the jobs that would exist in 2030, haven’t even been invented yet. Same is the case with prompt engineering. And this job can pay up to $335,000, without even requiring a computer science degree.
While the magnitude of prompt engineering’s future impact remains uncertain, various sectors and businesses are already seeking talent in this field. Anthropic, a Google-supported AI startup, is enticing prospective candidates with dazzling salaries of up to $335,000 for the intriguing role of “Prompt Engineer and Librarian“. The listings emphasise the need for individuals with a daring hacker mindset and a passion for unravelling enigmas. Klarity, an automated document reviewer, is also willing to pay up to $230,000 for a skilled machine learning engineer capable of masterfully coaxing AI tools to deliver optimal outcomes. It seems the quest for the perfect prompt is on, and the rewards are nothing short of remarkable.
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Getting a six-digit salary without even paying for an expensive college degree. Meanwhile, companies such as IBM are freezing hiring in trying to replace people with AI. Moreover, with layoffs getting rampant, it looks like with the constant innovation in AI, all companies need now is someone who can perform operations using AI models.
No Money Left for Programmers?
In recent news, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced freezing the pay raise for its employees citing poor macroeconomic conditions even when the company reported a 9% profit this quarter. There is no doubt that the company is pumping in funds into AI. Speaking to AIM, a Microsoft India employee said that a lot of them are planning to change jobs because of this reason.
Even then, there are very few opportunities for programmers in the job market. The demand for prompt engineers, however, is at an all-time high with exorbitantly high salaries — more than what a lot of programmers at big-techs draw.
This has unleashed in a flood of people putting up “prompt engineer” in their LinkedIn bios. The “ChatGPT Experts” or the ‘snake oil sellers of AI’ have now become prompt engineers. But is the demand for these jobs actually on the rise? The truth is, if you search for prompt engineering jobs on LinkedIn or Indeed, you’ll find hundreds of job postings, but as soon as you go into the requirements or eligibility for most of them, they require some knowledge of programming languages or the workings of LLMs.
In a recent Reddit discussion, a user shared a screenshot of a job opening hiring for a Fullstack Developer with a salary of $150,000-200,000 per month. Though it cannot be verified if this job offer is legitimate, it is true that there are a lot of jobs still up for grabs for expert programmers, and they pay a bomb as well.
In comparison, we can see that a prompt engineer’s salary posted on job threads is almost two times higher than that of a full-stack developer. According to a recent survey by Indeed, with more than 2,000 jobs for prompt engineers, the average salary for a prompt engineer is $150,000, whereas for a full-stack Python developer is around $110,000.
“You want me to build a python framework? Sure, I like snakes,” said a Reddit user.
English is the New Programming Language, really?
In January, Andrej Karpathy posted on Twitter, “The hottest new programming language is English”. While it is true that the introduction of models like ChatGPT, Bard, or even Codex and Replit, has made it easier for non-developers to write code they had no idea about, the need for programmers is still there.
There is no doubt that it is beneficial for everyone to team up with AI and upskill themselves. But relying on AI for everything and branding yourself a “killer prompt engineer” may backfire. Though we have text-to-anything models these days that behave like co-pilots for everything, the trend to be a prompt engineer is going to die soon.
Rob Lennon, an expert at prompt engineering has been teaching paid courses for the same and says that people in this profession just have the mover’s advantage. “In six months, 50,000 people will be able to do this job. The value of this knowledge is greater today than it will be tomorrow,” explained Lennon. The higher salaries that are being offered won’t last for a very long time.
Looks like the claim that an entire generation is studying for jobs that won’t exist is true for a lot of roles that can be replaced by AI. But at the same time, computer science degrees are going to remain beneficial forever. Staying strong amid the layoffs is what these engineers need. On the other hand, people without degrees can compete in the era of AI with prompt engineering courses, and have the role of an “LLM psychologist” and stay relevant.