While we don’t yet have the personal androids promised to us in sci-fi movies, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly a part of our everyday lives, with Forbes declaring 2019 “the year AI will move into the mainstream.” Thanks to AI, you can use your smartphone to deposit checks. AI quarantines your incoming junk email in a spam folder. Ridesharing apps such as Uber use AI for departure and arrival times. And AI makes recommendations on Amazon and Netflix based on your usage and preferences. Done a web search today? You likely interacted with AI.
With AI becoming more deeply integrated into our professional and personal lives, the Indeed analytics team crunched platform data to learn more about AI jobs in 2019. What are the top positions? Which offer the highest salaries? Where are the best opportunities? Some of our findings may surprise you.
AI job-posting growth slows while interest in jobs dips
AI job postings on Indeed rose 29.1% over the last year. However, that increase is substantially less than it was for the previous two years. AI job postings on Indeed rose 57.9% from May 2017 to May 2018 and a whopping 136.3% between May 2016 and May 2017. (See our full 2018 research findings.)
Meanwhile, interest from job seekers is leveling off: From May 2018 to May 2019, searches for AI-related jobs on Indeed decreased by 14.5%. By comparison, searches increased 32% between May 2017 and May 2018 and 49.1% between May 2016 and May 2017. This year’s drop suggests there could be more open jobs than qualified workers to fill them. Much of tomorrow’s AI workforce may still be in school or awaiting training.
It’s worth mentioning that AI job searches don’t always keep pace with the number of postings. For example, consider data scientists, whose job is to take raw data and apply programming, visualizations and statistical modeling to extract actionable insights for organizations. Given that data is “the new oil,” data scientists are in high demand, and our research shows job postings jumped 31% from 2017 to 2018. During the same period, however, job searches only increased about 14%.
Machine learning and deep learning engineers rule the top 10 AI jobs list
To learn about the most sought-after AI jobs posted on Indeed between 2018 and 2019, our analytics team identified the 10 positions with the highest percentage of job descriptions that include the keywords “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning.”
We discovered that machine learning engineer job postings had the highest percentage of AI and machine learning keywords this year (as they did in 2018). Machine learning engineers develop devices and software that use predictive technology, such as Apple’s Siri or weather-forecasting apps. They ensure machine learning algorithms have the data that needs to be processed and analyze huge amounts of real-time data to make machine learning models more accurate.
While machine learning engineer jobs still have the largest number of postings containing the relevant keywords, in 2018, they composed a greater percentage of these postings (94.2%, versus 75% in 2019).
Many of the jobs requiring AI skills on 2019’s top 10 were nowhere to be found on 2018’s list — such as deep learning engineer, appearing for the first time in second place. Deep learning engineers develop programming systems that mimic brain functions, among other tasks. These engineers are key players in three rapidly growing fields: autonomous driving, facial recognition and robotics. The global facial-recognition market alone is poised to grow from $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7 billion by 2024, according to one study.
Other new jobs that made it on 2019’s top 10 list are:
- Senior data scientist
- Junior data scientist
- Developer consultant
- Director of data science
- Lead data scientist
Conversely, director of analytics; statistician; principal scientist; computer scientist; research engineer; and data engineer jobs are former contenders missing in action this year.
The year-over-year differences could reflect the growing demand for data scientists at all types of companies; many employers now need a whole data science team, with staff from junior to director levels. By comparison, the 2018 list contained data science jobs that were more generic, such as data scientist, principal scientist and computer scientist. Hiring for a range of experience levels appeals to a wider range of talent, which can help organizations better compete in the tight labor market.
The top AI jobs by average salary
Machine learning engineer is not only the top AI job in terms of the number of job postings, it also commands one of the highest paychecks. And it’s the role with the biggest boost in average annual salary, as compared to 2018.
Machine learning engineer topped our list for highest paying job this year, after coming in third in 2018. The salary has grown as well as the ranking — this year the average annual salary for this position is $8,409 higher than last year’s. That’s an increase of 5.8%, compared to the average 2.9% salary increase that human resources firm Mercer predicted for 2019.
Similarly, an algorithm engineer’s average annual salary rose to $109,313 this year — an increase of $5,201, or 5%. Both salary bumps are likely a result of organizations’ spending more to attract talent to these crucial roles in a competitive AI job market.
As with our previous list, the positions that top the salary rankings show an evolution and maturation of the overall AI market. More generalized positions such as director of analytics, data engineer, computer scientist, statistician and research engineer were all on 2018’s list but didn’t crack the top 10 this year. New positions taking their place on 2019’s list include more differentiated data science jobs, such as senior data scientist and lead data scientist.
New York and San Francisco lead top cities for AI jobs
Compared to last year, 2019’s ranking of metropolitan areas with the largest percentages of AI jobs hasn’t changed significantly — though there are a few shifts, as well as a newcomer.
In both 2018 and 2019, the New York City and San Francisco metro areas rank first and second, respectively. However, New York has lost some of its edge: Last year, the Big Apple comprised 11.6% of AI job postings, which dipped to 9.72% in 2019. By comparison, San Francisco had a 9.6% share in 2018; this dropped to 9.2% in 2019, but it’s now only slightly behind New York. (San Francisco also ranks second on our Best Cities for Job Seekers 2019 list, out of 25 metro areas.)
New York’s top position may surprise you, until you consider that it’s the home of diverse industries, from financial services to publishing — many of which are now adopting AI. Many West Coast-based tech companies (such as Amazon, Facebook and Google) have a significant presence in the region. And New York has its share of AI-related tech startups, such as AlphaSense, Clarifai, Persado and x.ai.
Three areas swapped positions on our lists between last year and 2019. In 2018, San Jose ranked third (9.2%) and Washington, DC fourth (7.9%). But this year, DC ranks third, while San Jose is fourth. In 2019, Boston (slipping from fifth place) trades places with Seattle (rising from sixth), and Chicago cedes its seventh-place position to Los Angeles (formerly eighth). Dallas-Fort Worth holds onto ninth place. And Philadelphia, last year’s tenth, is bumped off the chart by newcomer Atlanta.
Will AI create more jobs than it eliminates?
In the coming years, the big question will continue to be whether AI will generate more jobs than it disrupts.
Some studies suggest AI will, in fact, produce more jobs than it destroys. The 2018 Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum finds that by 2022, a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines — or AI-enabled automation — will displace 75 million jobs but generate 133 million new ones. Gartner estimates AI will create 2.3 million new jobs in 2020 while eliminating 1.8 million positions. And according to a 2019 Dun & Bradstreet report, 40% of organizations are adding more jobs as a result of adopting AI, while only 8% are cutting jobs because of the new technology.
Whatever happens, AI is expected to grow and evolve into a common workplace tool.
As a Harvard Business Review writer concludes, “Sooner or later, every technology transitions from an elite niche to a mainstream tool. AI is now undergoing a similar transformation.… We’re entering an age in which just about anyone can leverage the power of intelligent algorithms to solve the problems that matter to them.”