Globalisation, automation, and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different from how it looks today. In fact, many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. So, it’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’
In this series, we’re exploring a range of occupations forecast to have strong employment prospects in the future. Some careers in the tech industry are quickly emerging. Plus, there are other existing careers that will also have an important place in the employment opportunities of tomorrow.
This article looks at the exciting and dynamic field of artificial intelligence. While you may have heard about the field, you might not know exactly what artificial intelligence is and what kinds of artificial intelligence careers are available.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a branch of computer science that focuses on building “smart” computers and machines, meaning they are capable of performing complicated tasks that usually require human intelligence or supervision. A critical aspect of this discipline is machine learning, a deep understanding of self-regulating computer systems. Leading scientists in artificial intelligence are now learning how to create computers that can process complex information, such as human emotion, expression, behaviour and languages.
Artificial intelligence may sound futuristic, but it’s already here. Already it is being used across nearly every industry, including technology, healthcare, retail and transport. Think of Siri on your smartphone, Alexa in your home, computer modelling and predictive polling tools, speech recognition, manufacturing processes, conversation bots on websites, spam filters and recommendations for things you might like to watch on Netflix. All of these are examples of artificial intelligence.
What is it like to work in artificial intelligence?
This branch of computer science is now so broad and aligned with so many different industries, that students have the opportunity to choose the type of work they are most inspired by. Mathematics, computer programming, statistics, networking, web development, software engineering and robotics are all key areas in the development of artificial intelligence. Students will often find they have a natural affinity for one or more of these skills, which in turn may determine their eventual career aspirations. The benefit of this is that, as a student, you can work out what you love to do while you are learning. As this is such a new area of study, you’re also likely to have the pick of available positions in the job market if you have the right qualifications.
This is a cutting-edge science, where discoveries, breakthroughs, and never-before-seen advancements are common. It is also a fast-growing area of study and business, and is predicted to continue to grow. This makes artificial intelligence an ideal choice for those looking for an exciting, rewarding and varied career.
In Australia, jobs in artificial intelligence are high paying. Current statistics suggest that the average starting wage for an AI-focused role is around $75,000 per year, which jumps steeply once you have some industry experience. A senior software engineer typically earns more than $100,000 per year, while a senior solutions architect earns from $150,000 per year. Those figures only increase as the industry continues to grow.
Are there artificial intelligence jobs in Australia?
Australia is already heavily invested in AI and is well-positioned to be a future leader of the industry. There are already several dedicated national agencies, as well as branches of well-known international AI-focused organisations. Some examples include the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre, MIT Living Lab, the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, and the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre.
Accenture, one of the world’s largest technology and professional services firms, recently announced its move into South Australia with the establishment of the Adelaide Hub. This investment includes the development of national security operations and cyber defense capabilities, new advanced technology centres, and intelligent operations capabilities. It’s easy to see why career opportunities in AI are increasing and will continue to do so.
Where can I study artificial intelligence?
This highly specialised industry requires extensive study. Entry-level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, while senior positions entailing leadership, supervision or business management skills often require a master’s or postgraduate degree in addition to some industry experience.
Typical coursework involves the study of mathematics (including probability, statistics, algebra, calculus, logic and algorithms), networking, modelling, physics, engineering, robotics, computer science, programming languages and coding.
If you’re interested in a career in artificial intelligence, look for degree programs that offer specific majors in AI, such as the Bachelor of Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) offered at Flinders University. Alternatively, you can pursue an AI specialisation within majors such as health informatics, graphic design, information technology and engineering.
Examples of artificial intelligence careers
Examples of job titles for artificial intelligence professionals include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Software analyst
- Software developer
- Computer scientist
- Computer engineer
- Algorithm specialist
- Research scientist
- Engineering consultant
- Mechanical engineer
- Maintenance technician
- Manufacturing engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Medical health professional
- Surgical technician
- Military electrician
- Aviation electrician
- Drone technician
- Graphic designer
- Digital musician
- Entertainment producer
If you want to learn how to translate digital information into improving quality of life, create meaningful human experience and supercharge technological advances, then these could all be viable career options for you.