How Much Do Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Data Jobs Actually Pay?

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and data jobs are hot right now. But how much do these roles actually pay? A new report suggests that, in exchange for specializing in cutting-edge technology, you can earn quite a bit.

Specifically, O’Reilly pegs the average salary of data and A.I. professionals at $146,000 per year (that’s from 2,778 respondents in the U.S. and 284 in the U.K.). Salaries increased an average of 2.25 percent per year. Average compensation was highest in California ($176,000), which hosts many of the large companies that rely on A.I. and data expertise, such as Google and other Silicon Valley giants. 

Moreover, respondents seemed happy in their roles. “We don’t see evidence of a ‘great resignation,’” the report added. “[Twenty-two percent] of respondents said they intended to change jobs, roughly what we would have expected. Respondents seemed concerned about job security, probably because of the pandemic’s effect on the economy.”

If you want to land a job in A.I. and/or data, the key is training. Some 64 percent of respondents participated in some kind of training or certification courses, with 31 percent saying they’d spent 100 hours in training over the past year. While 22 percent said that training was required by their job, a stunning 91 percent said they wanted to learn new skills, while 84 percent said they were driven by a desire to improve their existing skill-set. 

“When we looked at the most popular programming languages for data and AI practitioners, we didn’t see any surprises,” the report continued. “Python was dominant (61%), followed by SQL (54%), JavaScript (32%), HTML (29%), Bash (29%), Java (24%), and R (20%). C++, C#, and C were further back in the list (12%, 12%, and 11%, respectively).”

There’s every possibility that A.I. and machine learning jobs will go more mainstream over the next several years, offering opportunity to more technologists to land high compensation by specializing in the field. According to Burning Glass, jobs that heavily involve machine learning are predicted to grow 76.3 percent over the next 10 years. More than 220,000 job postings over the past 12 months mentioned “machine learning” in a meaningful way—quite a large number for a “niche” technology. But in order to actually land an A.I. or a data-related job, you’ll need to know your stuff—which means lots of training.