Unit.5 | Artificial Intelligence
Learning Unit | Artificial Intelligence

Working in an AI Future

Chapter 07/07


As the effect of AI on the workforce continues to grow, learn about which occupations are at risk and which will become more in demand.

Key Terms:

  • Natural language processing
  • Automation
  • Machine learning
  • Explainable AI

The effect of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs in both the short and long term is an ever-present part of the discussion around these technologies.

And for valid reason: a 2017 CompTIA survey of more than 700 businesses revealed that nearly 25 percent of companies were already employing AI applications in their day-to-day operations. view citation[1] In the effort to improve workflow efficiency, safety and security, businesses are increasingly turning to AI and machine learning to bust spam, beef up firewalls and automate repetitive administrative tasks.

As a result of this shift in businesses across a variety of industries, many people fear that AI implementation could result in massive job loss for us mere humans. The automation component of this “fifth industrial revolution” has employment watchers worried: AI-related automation is expected to affect 40%-60% of all jobs. view citation[2] One analysis estimates that by 2020, AI will have eliminated 1.8 million jobs. On the flip side, the same study also projects that AI will create a net total of 2.3 million new jobs by 2025, producing $2.9 trillion in business value and recovering 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity. view citation[3]

At-Risk Occupations

A busy restaurant kitchen.

Occupations that involve a high degree of repetitive work are at higher risk of being shifted to AI-driven applications. That includes desk work as well as jobs that involve repetitive physical labor.

One study estimates that AI might eliminate up to 10 million jobs in the United States, with the most vulnerable positions including cooks and servers, janitors and cleaners, and movers and warehouse personnel. Other susceptible jobs include retail clerks, telemarketers, loan officers, paralegals, truck drivers and construction workers. view citation[4]

Occupations that involve a high degree of repetitive work are at higher risk of being shifted to AI-driven applications.

Banking and finance may take hits, too, as investment firms move to automated stock picking. view citation[5] Even “quants,” the whiz kids of Wall Street who build the math-heavy computer models for pricing and trading securities, could find their jobs at risk as faster, nimbler machine-learning algorithms take over the process.

Not even medicine is safe. Diagnosis-heavy occupations, like radiology, are expected to feel the impact of AI advances. view citation[6]

Soft Skills

On the other side of the coin, jobs that involve high levels of creativity and human interaction—the so-called “soft skills”—are still considered relatively safe, although AI has already begun to augment the roles of communicators, teachers, medical providers, social workers, dietitians and clergy. Jobs with a high degree of unpredictability and variability, such as mechanics and plumbers, are also considered insulated from AI and automation over the next several decades. view citation[7]

Tech jobs are expected to carve out a strong market position in the AI job field of the future, but they won’t all require hard-tech skills. Companies developing AI software will need sales reps who can explain the nuts and bolts of the product, for instance. view citation[8]

Emerging Job Markets

As more and more businesses and organizations seek to add AI capabilities to their operations, the information technology field will continue to provide strong prospects for job hunters. A World Economic Forum report predicts that the continued influence of AI in the job market could create 58 million net new jobs by 2022. view citation[9]

Many jobs already in existence will probably see higher demand as the need for these positions grows, including software developers, computer engineers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts and data taggers. view citation[10]

AI is also sure to create new jobs that involve technology not yet in wide use: chatbot designers, language tone and context trainers, and automation ethicists, to name a few.

AI is also sure to create new jobs that involve technology not yet in wide use

Research continues on how to achieve “explainable AI”—systems capable of detailing how and why they arrived at a solution or conclusion. In the meantime, businesses will need workers skilled in managing and explaining the functioning of an organization’s AI solution.

Job Roles in AI

If you’re interested in finding a job in AI, you should know that most of them require one or more advanced degrees in computer science, engineering or related fields. Still, more entry- and midlevel jobs are appearing as the field matures.

Machine Learning Engineer

A machine learning engineer.

Salary range: $120,000-$148,000

Machine learning engineers write algorithms and build AI systems and models that can process and classify data from massive, disorganized datasets. This is the technology behind internet searches that also produce “suggested for you” matches. Using data mining, natural language processing and ranking systems, engineers at organizations such as Pinterest, Netflix and Google build systems that evaluate improvements to the matching algorithms and shift as a user’s interaction with the service changes. A significant component of the job involves monitoring established systems to retrain and adjust them as necessary.

Education and experience: Machine learning engineers must be fluent in the principles of data science, computer science and software engineering, and many positions require at least five years of experience in these fields. Desired programming languages typically include Python, Java, C++ and TensorFlow. A bachelor’s degree or above is typically required.

Data Scientist: Speech and Language Processing

A speech and language processing data scientist.

Salary range: $120,000-$136,000

As applications that use automated speech and writing become more prevalent, companies are recruiting data scientists who specialize in developing AI-based language processing systems. Job duties include building language models, designing algorithms for the company’s products, training the algorithms, conducting data analysis, researching ways to improve the system’s performance and accuracy, and performing ongoing maintenance of launched systems.

Education and experience: Candidates with a computer science and electrical engineering background are highly desired for these positions, usually with either a recent Ph.D. or a master’s degree and three to five years of experience. Familiarity with statistical and machine learning methodologies is preferred. Candidates must be proficient in SQL, Perl or Python, Matlab or R and C/C++.

Data Associate/AI Trainer

A data associate.

Salary range: $14-$20 per hour

In the pursuit of increasingly natural interactions between humans and their virtual assistants, companies are seeking skilled communicators to help algorithms refine these interactions. AI trainers help AI systems better understand user requests. These trainers also compose a library of potential responses and work side by side with machine learning engineers to tag and annotate data for the AI’s use. Trainers monitor, analyze and troubleshoot live conversations to help the system learn intent and context, improve conversation flow and correct or complete conversations.

Education and experience: Strong verbal and written language skills are strongly preferred for these positions. Experience with coding or engineering is usually not necessary, but people working in these positions should be comfortable working with computers and programs such as Excel, Word and Google Sheets. A bachelor’s degree in English, linguistics or a related field is usually preferred, but one to three years of experience as a transcriptionist, transcriber or annotator may substitute for a degree.


  1. “Understanding Emerging Technology: Artificial Intelligence.” CompTIA. November 2017. View Source

  2. “A.I. Expert Says Automation Could Replace 40% of Jobs in 15 Years.” Fortune. January 2019. View Source

  3. “Gartner Says By 2020, Artificial Intelligence Will Create More Jobs Than It Eliminates.” View Source

  4. “AI Will Put 10 Million Jobs At High Risk — More Than Were Eliminated By The Great Recession.” CB Insights. October 2017. View Source

  5. “How AI Trading Systems Will Shake Up Wall Street.” ITPro Today. January 2018. View Source

  6. “AI Is Continuing Its Assault on Radiologists.” MIT Technology Review. January 2018. View Source

  7. “What jobs will still be around in 20 years? Read this to prepare your future.” The Guardian. June 2017. View Source

  8. “The Growing Demand for Soft Skills in High Tech Jobs.” ZipRecruiter. View Source

  9. “Artificial Intelligence To Create 58 Million New Jobs By 2022, Says Report.” Forbes. September 2018. View Source

  10. “LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report.” LinkedIn. December 2017. View Source