AI Job Market Cools Off to a Steady Boil

Employers are hiring more AI experts than last year, but the AI job market isn’t growing as quickly as it once was

Illustration of AI job candidates
Illustration: iStockphoto
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Huge shortages, astronomical salaries, raids on engineering departments at universities—this has been the state of the job market for AI and machine learning experts for the past few years. And with AI technology finding use in new industries almost daily, it seemed demand for AI and machine learning expertise would never slack. But has it?

Job search site Indeed looked for the answer to that question in its annual review of AI job postings. And Indeed concluded that it just might be seeing a slowdown—that is, if you call 29 percent growth a slowdown.

The number of AI jobs listed on the site from May 2018 to May 2019 increased by 29 percent over the same period a year earlier. But that’s significantly less than the increase in the previous period, which was 58 percent over 2016 to 2017. And it represents a huge drop from 2016 to 2017, when AI job postings jumped 136 percent over the previous year’s count.

While the Indeed study didn’t quantify the gap between job openings and job seekers, its data suggests that the gap is growing, and the shortage is worsening. That’s good news for engineers with AI expertise, and bad news for companies that need to hire them. The number of AI-related job searches by candidates on Indeed dropped in the May 2018 to May 2019 window, down 15 percent from the previous year. By contrast, the 2017 to 2018 period saw searches up 32 percent from the previous year.

Indeed’s review also attempted to sketch a picture of what skills these AI jobs require by looking at keywords in job listings. In the 2017 to 2018 period, the phrase “machine learning engineer” dominated the keyword rankings, and was listed in 94 percent of AI job openings. That number dropped to 75 percent in the most recent time period. Meanwhile, “deep learning engineer,” defined as engineers that develop programming systems that mimic brain functions, was listed in 62 percent of AI job postings, putting it into the top 10 for the first time. And several jobs related to data science also moved into the top 10 [see table, below]. Were these merged into one category, data scientist might have ranked higher than machine learning engineer.

While this Indeed report didn’t provide an exhaustive look at salaries, it did consider the highest paid positions. By that ranking, machine learning engineer, at an average salary of US $142,859 annually, topped data scientist, at $126,927.

Top 10 jobs involving AI skills, according to Indeed:

Rank

2018-2019

2017-2018

1

Machine learning engineer

Machine learning engineer

2

Deep learning engineer

Data scientist

3

Senior data scientist

Computer vision engineer

4

Computer vision engineer

Algorithm engineer

5

Data scientist

Principal scientist

6

Algorithm developer

Computer scientist

7

Junior data scientist

Research engineer

8

Developer consultant

Statistician

9

Director of data science

Director of analytics

10

Lead data scientist

Data engineer

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