Beginners Guide to a Career in AI

What is AI in simple terms? How AI is related to machine learning (ML), Robotics, NLP, and other domains? Top Colleges for AI. How is the AI job market and how to make a career in AI? Let’s find out!


Do you feel amazed when your smartphone gets unlocked through face recognition, or Siri/Alexa does a job for you on your voice command? Do you feel intrigued how Amazon, Flipkart, Spotify or Netflix makes personalized recommendations or the Facebook feed works? It’s all possible because of AI.

With the rise of digital transformation and automation, each and every industry has been transformed by AI, aka Artificial Intelligence.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) – In a Simple Way?

AI is the field of study by which a computer (or software system) develop the ability to do complex tasks, which usually require human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

In other words, AI is concerned with solving tasks that are easy for humans but hard for computers. AI, a wide branch of Computer Science, is used to create intelligent machines that can recognize human speech, detect objects, solve problems and learn like humans. 

AI is usually defined as the “science of making computers do things that require intelligence when done by humans”.

So, feeling pumped up to explore the career in AI? Read till the end.

Inter-Relationship of NLP, Computational Linguistics, Computer Vision, ML, and Robotics with AI

If you wish to make your career in AI, you need to get acquainted with all the related sub-domains of AI – NLP, ML, Robotics, etc. Let’s go through them briefly.

NLP, Computational Linguistics & Computer Vision

Humans can write and read text-data in any language. In AI, this is done by the field called Natural Language Processing (NLP), which deals with the application of computational techniques to analyze and synthesize natural language’s text and speech. Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa is a very good example for NLP domain. 

Humans can speak and listen to communicate with others using natural language. In NLP, this is taken care by the Speech Recognition vertical. Most of the NLP techniques follow statistical approaches to learn and understand the natural language and hence it is called Statistical Learning.

NLP is also pretty closely related to Computational Linguistics. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws on expertise in disparate areas such as linguistics (the study of languages), psychology and computer science. Computational linguists develop computer systems that deal with human language. Read more about careers in computational linguistics.

careers in AI

Humans can see through their eyes and process the information with the help of their brain. In AI, this is aided by the field called Computer Vision. Computer Vision deals with how computers can gain a high-level understanding of digital images or videos.

Computer vision is concerned with the automatic extraction, analysis, and understanding of useful information from a single image or a set of images. Humans can recognize the scenario around them through their eyes which are captured as images. In AI, this is taken care of by the field called Image processing.

Inter-Relationship of NLP, Computational Linguistics, Computer Vision, ML, and Robotics with AI

Machine Learning and Robotics

You might have also heard about Machine Learning (ML). AI and ML are often seemed to be used interchangeably. But, they are not quite the same. 

While machine learning emphasizes on making predictions about the future, artificial intelligence typically concentrates on programming computers to make decisions. 

Machine learning is the ability for a computer to output or does something that it wasn’t programmed to do.

Deep Learning, ML and AI

Read more about the differences and relationship between AI, ML, Deep Learning, and Neural Networks.

Humans can recognize their surroundings and move around the environment easily. In AI, this field is called Robotics that deals with the study of creating intelligent and efficient robots. Robots are the artificial agents which perform various tasks in the same way as humans do.

Major Applications of AI

Banks and Financial Services:

AI applications (e.g. chatbots) have the ability to understand the need of each individual customer by analyzing the previous account activity and help the customer to make better product selection offered by banking & financial service companies. Read more about the scopes of AI in banking and financial services.

Travel and Hospitality:

AI has redefined travel service expectations by helping consumers personalize their destination discovery and make purchases with tailored and contextual insights. The sector is seeing a rise in personalized services. Nowadays, offers (or discounts) are more customized and driven by traveler interests rather than a generic commoditized offer. Learn more about how AI is re-shaping the Travel & Hospitality Industry & Job Market.

Education and Online Learning:

The advent of digital-enabled classrooms, cloud-based content, e-books, online assessments and many more were developed due to the deployment of AI and ML in the educational field.

AI provides insights based on the enormous amount of data (Big Data) it has collected and analyzed. Access to these data allows online learning platforms to develop a better understanding of learner (student) behaviors and to predict needs by recommending content based on past behavior.

Healthcare and Medicine:

At present, we go for check-ups only when there are serious symptoms. Even physicians or diagnostic labs can detect some abnormality only when lipid levels or glucose are way off the charts or something extreme.

AI has got the ability to aggregate all important data points and help the physicians or doctors to take definite steps to prevent events like strokes, heart attack or cancer in the near future, even though nothing comes out of a blood test. AI (along with Big Data Analytics) has tremendous scopes in Personalized and Precision Medicine.

Renewable Energy and Sustainability:

Climate change, shortage of water, depletion of fossil fuels, and global warming are extremely key areas to address.

AI technologies can help with improving operations management and ensuring efficient usage and storage of renewable resources by leveraging Smart Grids.

Additionally, forecasting of renewable energy resources by accumulating data from wind and solar plants and merging them with atmospheric data can also help with the optimization of usage of energy resources. Read the applications and future scopes of AI in the energy sector.

AI Job Market

In recent years, careers in AI have grown exponentially in order to meet the demands of the digitally transformed industries. But, there has been a serious shortage of AI talent.

According to various media reports, the demand for AI skills has more than doubled in the last 3 years. All these suggest that this is a great time to build a career in AI.

According to Reportbuyer, the AI market is estimated to grow to $5.05 billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 53.65% from 2015 to 2020. Factors like diversified application areas improved productivity and increased customer satisfaction are responsible for this growth. The AI market in the Asia Pacific is likely to grow at the highest CAGR during 2015 and 2020.

How to Make a Career in AI?

Ideally, you should have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, or Engineering (core streams). Additionally, you must earn an advanced degree (MS or Ph.D.) in AI or related fields (Machine Learning, Computer Science, Robotics, Data Science, etc.) as well.

Recommended Article: AI Summer School Programs for High School Students

Educational Requirements for Career in AI

  • Various level of math, including probability, statistics, algebra, calculus, logic, and algorithms
  • Bayesian networking or graphical modeling, including neural nets
  • Physics
  • Engineering
  • Robotics
  • Computer science, programming languages and coding
  • Cognitive science theory

Top Colleges for AI at Undergraduate Level in India

Personally, I recommend not opting for a micro-specialized field like AI at the Bachelors level. It’s better to pursue a broad field like Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering or Mathematics after Class 12.

However, if you are really keen, you could consider the following institutes in India:

  • IIT Hyderabad (B.Tech. in Artificial Intelligence)
  • Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (B.Tech. in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence)
  • IIIT Naya Raipur (B.Tech. in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence)
  • Great Lakes International University (B.Tech. in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning)
  • GH Raisoni College (B.Tech. in Artificial Intelligence)
  • Amity University (Integrated B.Tech. + M.Tech. in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics)

Top Universities for AI at the Post-Graduate Level (MS and Ph.D.) Abroad

Top Universities for AI in USA

  • Carnegie Mellon
  • MIT
  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • Georgia Tech
  • University of Michigan
  • Harvard
  • UT Austin
  • Columbia
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Cornell
  • University of Washington
  • UMass Amherst
  • University of Maryland (College Park)
  • University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
  • UCLA
  • CalTech
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Pittsburgh

Top Universities for AI in Europe, Canada, and Asia

  • EPFL
  • TU Munich
  • University of Cambridge
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • University of Manchester
  • ETH Zurich
  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • University of Waterloo
  • Utrecht University
  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology
  • National University of Singapore
  • KU Leuven
  • Radboud University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • University of Gothenburg
  • University of Alberta
  • Aalto University
  • Linkoping University

Recommended Article: MS AI/ML vs MS Data Science vs MS Analytics – How to Choose the Right Program?

Don’t Ignore the Soft Skills

In today’s competitive job market, don’t make the mistake of ignoring soft skills development. Hard skills are important, but soft skills are equally important.

The AI domain requires a perfect combination of hard and soft skills. If you are serious about crafting a career in AI, it’s time to get skilled softly. Read how soft skills can help you land your dream job.

Do spare time and work on your communication, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, public speaking, and project management skills. Creativity and cross-cultural intelligence are also pretty important.

Popular Job Roles for AI Experts

  • Software Developer
  • Data Scientist
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Research Scientist
  • Data Architect
  • Business Intelligence Analyst

Salaries in the AI Domain

You can literally command your remuneration. Since there are not many people around who understand AI and thousands of companies want to employ AI specialists, salaries for AI specialists have skyrocketed.

In India, the median annual salary of AI professionals is Rs. 14.3 Lakhs. In the US, top AI researchers make more than a million dollars (as salary) per annum.

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