Aerial view of hands on a dark keyboard, representing a job in AI.
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Future of work: How to upskill and get a job in AI

4 Sep 2018

Many worry about AI taking their jobs, but what if you could actually get a job in AI?

When we talk about the future of work, we talk a lot about upskilling, and future-proofing ourselves.

Future Human

With the rapid growth of technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is developing fast and is already bleeding into workplaces.

While it’s important to prepare for a workplace that includes a lot more technology, there’s another element of AI that will make its way into the future of work: new jobs within the AI industry itself.

While many people must evaluate their current career trajectory and look at how that will change over time due to the future of work, many of the new jobs that are expected are already arriving – and a lot of them involve working with AI.

At the beginning of this year, we talked about the role of an AI architect becoming one of the hottest jobs in the future of work and, as we near the end of 2018, it seems that trend is set to continue.

Aoife Connaughton is a senior manager in robotics and cognitive automation at Deloitte, and she agrees that AI is “one of the hottest areas in the career market right now”.

She added: “It regularly tops the list of most in-demand skills areas, with demand tripling in the last three years and six times more open roles than candidates available to fill them, according to Indeed.”

So, for those who want to take advantage of the AI opportunities in the future of work, what kind of skills would they need? Connaughton said there are three main skills areas that jobseekers would need: technical, business analysis and managerial.

Technical skills would include knowledge of how to manage and configure AI APIs and DNNs, advanced analytics, and data science skills. It also incorporates programming expertise in Python, C# and R; experience working with AI-specific vendors and applications; as well as experience of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

Business analysis skills include process reengineering, business case development, experience of Agile delivery and DevOps, and vendor selection and management.

Managerial skills for AI roles would be data literacy, governance, ethics, AI architect skills, experience managing IP rights between customers and vendors, and critical thinking.

What jobs are available?

For those who feel they have the necessary skills to work in AI, there is a wide range of jobs available, both on the technical side and the business side.

“Developers and data scientists with experience using NLG [natural language generation], speech recognition, virtual agents and machine-learning specialists are most in demand for technical roles, while finance and HR professionals with experience exploring and scaling use cases for cognitive automation are hot property right now,” said Connaughton.

“While there’s a pipeline of new graduates with skills and a strong interest in areas such as machine learning, demand far outstrips supply and there is a need for seasoned technical business professionals to upskill to be able to identify and exploit opportunities.”

How to upskill for the AI industry

Those with a technical background and those just starting out on their career journey will want to upskill and develop their abilities in an AI sphere to avail of these opportunities.

Connaughton said many people are using online learning providers such as Coursera, which provides short technical courses from top universities.

For those who are relatively inexperienced in the realm of AI, Connaughton said there are two routes.

“Formal further education, for example, a master’s in AI (there’s a new course starting in University of Limerick this year) or part-time learning while doing your day job.”

The second option is the abundance of online courses available at low or no cost. “Stanford’s Machine Learning course by Andrew Ng is famous for its quality, accessibility for technical novices and masters alike, and its comprehensiveness,” she said.

“By looking at job descriptions, you can identify key skills and technology gaps you may have, and pick them off one by one through these courses.”

The future of work can seem like murky waters when it comes to what the workforce can expect. How many jobs will we lose? How many new ones will we gain?

While there is plenty that is uncertain, the future of AI is almost undeniable. It will infiltrate virtually all workplaces in some way and it will also bring a lot of new and exciting roles.

For those who are interested in a career in AI, the future of work is unmistakably bright.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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