In India’s top emerging jobs list compiled by LinkedIn for 2020, ‘Artificial intelligence specialist’ is second! This should come as no surprise as AI jobs have been growing rapidly in the last 3-4 years. In fact, LinkedIn’s own study in 2018 named India among the top three countries with AI skills. Other studies show that the number of AI professionals in the country has doubled in 2019, and expected to grow exponentially this year. Naturally, so will the artificial intelligence engineer salary.

What Influences the Artificial Intelligence Engineer Salary?

Before we get into the details of the AI engineer salary, we need to qualify what the role entails. As an emerging field, AI and the AI engineer role have been fluid across sectors. Unlike a data analyst or a Java developer, which are very specific job descriptions, an AI engineer is often used as an umbrella term for jobs in machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analytics and so on. In this blog post, we’ll cover a range of roles that might be called an artificial intelligence engineer and explore their salaries.

Individual Factors Affecting Artificial Intelligence Engineer Salary

What salary a particular professional earns depends on a wide range of things. Some of them are individual factors like technical skill sets, behavioural skill sets, experience etc. Top skills for an artificial intelligence engineer today are NLP, deep learning and Python programming.

Source: PayScale

The PayScale community says that the average salary for general artificial intelligence skills is Rs. 10,00,000. Within that, an AI professional with natural language processing skills earns about Rs. 929,000; deep learning skills Rs. 879,000; and  Python programming skills Rs. 750,000 per annum. Other important roles in AI are data scientist and machine learning engineer — both of which we’ve written about earlier. 

Industry Factors That Influence Artificial Intelligence Engineer Salary

“10-plus years of experience in AI can pay anywhere between Rs. 60 lakhs and Rs. 1.5 crore, depending upon the company,” Rishabh Kaul, co-founder of Belong, an HR start-up told livemint.com. Along with demand, location and other such external factors, the company you work for and the industry it is in plays a huge role in determining one’s salary. By their very nature some industries are more conducive to certain jobs than others: For instance, self-driving cars or e-commerce are adopting AI much more rapidly than, say, governance or public works.

The LinkedIn report finds that top industries for artificial intelligence roles in India are IT services, software, research and education management. A recent study by Zinnov, a consulting firm, finds that multinational IT and technology centres as the top paying segment for IT jobs in India today. “India has over 1,250 MNCs with such centres in India – the biggest such base in the world – and includes the likes of Intel, SAP, Cisco, Boeing, Walmart, Amazon and Shell.” According to the study, freshers with niche skills like artificial intelligence or machine learning fields command a top salary which is 65% more than their counterparts in application development, which goes up to Rs. 15,00,000 per annum with attractive joining bonuses. 

Source: Nasscom

Nasscom’s recent talent demand and supply report finds that the total demand for artificial intelligence and big data analytics talent will be approximately 800,000 by 2021, of which 230,000 will be new jobs opening up next year. But, the supply gap — lack of qualified candidates to fill these roles — would be about 140,000. Let that sink in for a moment. This means that next year, there will be about 140,000 analytics and AI jobs that will likely go unfilled for lack of suitable candidates.

If you’re a technology professional, you can easily grab one of those jobs in four clear and strategic steps.

1. Upskill yourself

If you’re a fresher, learn the basics of artificial intelligence and its application across industries and domains. If you’re an experienced professional, you might be better off specialising in your area of expertise. Read about transitioning into AI jobs here.

2. Build a portfolio

AI and allied fields are still emerging. As a result, even the experts don’t know all the answers. They experiment, make mistakes and learn as they go along. To have a successful career in artificial intelligence, you need to have hands-on experience. This not only shows your skills but also demonstrates that you can solve problems independently. So, start some projects on your own and build a portfolio. Use these AI projects for inspiration

3. Explore the career landscape

Once you are just about ready to look for work, learn about the career landscape: What roles are available, which industries are hiring, how much do these roles pay, what is the career growth etc. Not all information will be available through Google search. You need two important things here: A network for support and a mentor for guidance. 

4. Pursue your goals

Go out there and apply for roles that are both relevant and interesting to you. Remember that what salary you can command is a combination of your technical and behavioural skills, along with external factors like location, company, industry etc. Gauge your worth based on these factors and decide on your expected salary accordingly. Year after year, you can gain more skills and experience and boost your salary significantly. 

But, don’t be disappointed if you don’t hear back from recruiters or receive rejections. AI jobs are also some of the most challenging and demanding. Be persistent, and don’t stop building your profile while you’re at it. 

In fact, at Springboard, we swear by these steps. Which is why our online learning program in AI/ML is structured around these. This 6-month program gives a comprehensive foundation in artificial intelligence, in addition to 14 real-world projects for your portfolio, 1:1 mentoring and career support. It is also the only AI/ML program in India with a job guarantee!