The way that human interaction with technology has changed in the course of a few decades is remarkable. In a relatively short period of time we’ve gone from rotary phones to having computers in our pockets at all times. In many ways, advances in technology have made our lives easier—we can now shop online, bank online and verbally ask home devices for help when we forget how to boil an egg.
The impact of new technologies isn’t just on our daily tasks—technology is also affecting the labor market. This is hardly a new phenomenon, as advances in technology have always impacted jobs. The Industrial Revolution (roughly 1760–1840) drastically changed the way people worked when new technologies and factories increased the efficiency of tasks, like weaving cotton, that had previously been done by hand.
Fast forward to now, and artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to be the next technological revolution to change the way we work. AI technology is designed to mimic human thinking by “learning” through recognizing patterns and drawing on past experiences. AI technologies can now identify objects, understand speech, translate languages, recognize faces and analyze sentiments. This broadly expands the range of tasks that machines may be able to accomplish, and they may eventually replace some jobs currently done by humans altogether.
This technology may still be in its early stages, but the demand for AI talent is already growing. Posts for AI-related roles on Indeed almost doubled between June 2015 and June 2018. Meanwhile, job seekers are taking note—during the same time period, the percent of searches on Indeed using “AI” or “machine learning” increased by 182%.
To gain a deeper understanding of these trends, our analytics team identified which jobs are most closely tied to AI, where they are located and what they pay. Here’s what we found.
The top 10 jobs requiring AI skills
First, let’s take a look at the market for AI jobs. Below is a list of the roles that most frequently mention “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning.” We also analyzed how many of these jobs had been open for more than 60 days to get a sense of how difficult they are to fill.
The closest thing to a “pure” AI job is machine learning engineer, followed by data scientist. These two jobs came in at numbers one and two for most frequently mentioning AI or machine learning. Those terms were included in job descriptions for almost 95% of machine learning engineer jobs and about 75% of data scientist jobs.
Computer vision engineers came in at number three, with 64.6% of jobs mentioning AI or machine learning. These engineers automate the tasks performed by the human eye, such as image processing.
More traditional jobs made the list as well, such as statistician—a profession that dates back to the mid 17th century when John Graunt began tabulating births, christenings and deaths by reviewing weekly church publications for local London parishes. So AI is transforming old jobs as well as creating new ones.
In terms of difficulty filling these roles, number six computer scientist is the hardest to fill, with almost 64% of computer scientist jobs open after 60 days. Statistician (#8) is the easiest AI skills job to fill, with 29% of these roles open after 60 days. Interestingly, data scientist is one of the easier roles to fill.
Top paying AI jobs
Once we identified which jobs most frequently sought AI skills, we wanted to know how much they paid to get a sense of how competitive the market for these jobs is.
When we compare this to the table of top 10 AI jobs, we see that the jobs with the highest AI component are not necessarily the highest paid.
Of course, more senior jobs (“director” and “principal”) pay more. Director of analytics tops our list with an average salary of $140,837. Principal scientist came in at number two ($138,271 average annual salary). However, machine learning engineer placed third ($134,449 average annual salary).
All of the jobs listed here are well above the median annual salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in the US ($60,996); in fact, the top six are all more than double this figure.
Even so, cost of living can have a huge impact on salaries. So employers seeking workers with these types of skills will need to conduct research to make sure their offerings are truly competitive and also need to invest in competitive benefits packages.
Top cities for AI jobs
But where are the biggest markets for AI jobs in the US? After identifying the top ten AI jobs, we next determined which cities have the highest concentration of them.
Though we often associate Silicon Valley with all jobs “tech,” New York topped our list with 11.6% of top AI jobs located there. It turns out New York has the highest concentration of data engineer, data scientist and director of analytics job postings of any metro area in the US, potentially supporting the many industry centers located there, including media, fashion and banking.
Silicon Valley wasn’t far behind, mind you. San Francisco comes in at number two (9.6% of top AI jobs) and San Jose at number three (9.2% of top AI jobs).
San Jose has the most job postings for algorithm engineers, computer vision engineers and machine learning engineers, which are all in the top four for jobs that most frequently require AI or machine learning skills. San Jose also had the most job postings for research engineers.
For other top AI jobs, Baltimore had the highest concentration of computer scientist postings. Baltimore is home to a number of federal government and defense-related tech jobs, including the high-tech Missions System division of the aerospace and defense company, Northrop Grumman. The city has also invested in teaching children tech skills.
Boston, home to academic powerhouses Harvard, Tufts, MIT and others, led with the most principal scientist postings. Washington, DC, the center for federal government and NGO jobs, had the most statistician postings.
Not everyone is excited about the increased use of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk, the founder of tech companies Tesla and SpaceX, has been outspoken about his fears for the future, even suggesting that artificial intelligence is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 72% of Americans are worried about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans.
But for industries facing labor shortages, AI offers hope of relief. At the end of 2017, the US faced a shortage of 51,000 truck drivers, up from a shortage of 36,000 the previous year. Autonomous trucks would help relieve the need for more drivers. In the meantime, the rollout of semiautonomous vehicles could relieve some of the stress on current drivers and attract new drivers interested in new technologies to the field.
For most AI technologies, taking on human work is still in preliminary or testing phases, such as robots taking on some of the most hazardous jobs. But here, too, they could be helpful. Robots designed to clean nuclear facilities, assist firefighters in locating fires and scraping sewers are all in trials or early use.
And while advances in AI may replace some jobs, AI is already adding new jobs to the economy. In fact, employers working with AI say that they need more AI talent than is currently available. Studies done in both the US and UK suggest that AI will create more jobs than it replaces.
So what next? Encouraging people, especially kids, to learn more about computer science could help prepare individuals for this new part of the labor economy and ensure that the important work around AI gets done. One thing is sure: whatever impact this technology has on the world of work, we’ll be watching.