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AI Job Boom: Industries and Skills in Demand in 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The key takeaway is that while fears of AI destroying jobs persist, it is important to recognize the numerous ways in which AI can supplement and enhance existing jobs while also creating new ones. The demand for AI-related jobs is on the rise, and industries such as healthcare, finance, supply chain, government, and human resources are leading the way. To succeed in the AI era, individuals need a combination of technical skills like programming and analytics, as well as softer skills like collaboration and adaptability. Embracing AI and continuously improving one's skills will unlock a world of opportunities and potentially high-paying jobs in this rapidly evolving field.

Fear of artificial intelligence (AI) destroying jobs still permeates the narrative surrounding technology. But what is often overlooked are the many ways it will supplement many jobs that exist today and perhaps create a number of new ones.

It has often been said that anyone displaced by automation did not lose their job to technology but to another person who knew how to leverage that technology to make themselves more productive. AI is no different in that regard.

In fact, judging by recent online activity, demand is strong for jobs that incorporate AI in one way or another, suggesting that the knowledge workforce has come to terms with the notion that it needs to get on board the AI train or be left at the station.

Peak Interest

According to CoinckoGecko, Google searches for “AI Jobs” is running at about four times the level of “Crypto Jobs” at its peak in early 2022. The upswing seems to have begun in November of 2022 with the release of ChatGPT by OpenAI and topped out at a search interest score of 124 in April before sliding back to about 100 last month.

Even in the months following the peak of Bitcoin’s (BTC) valuation in November of 2021, its job search interest score never made it past 30, which is probably reflective of AI’s more mainstream appeal to a wide variety of job seekers.

Coingecko's chart of search trends: ‘AI Jobs’ vs ‘Crypto Jobs’

Who Is Hiring AI Talent, and Where Are These Jobs Located?

The good news, says Visual Capitalist, is that more than 800,000 AI-related jobs were posted in the U.S. alone last year, with California leading the pack at nearly 18% of the total. This was more than double that of the next-most active state, Texas, which contributed about 8.4%. Though, it is important to note that while California’s percentage has been declining over the past decade, Texas’s is on the rise.

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As for the skills in demand for AI-related jobs, the top one cited in job postings is Python, at 37%. This is followed by general computer science, at 33%, and then SQL and data science and analytics, at 23% and 20%, respectively. Closing the list are things like automation, Java, and software engineering, at 17% each.

What Skills Are Needed to Land an AI Job?

It takes more than technical skills to become proficient in AI, however. Career guidance firm Handshake notes that while knowledge of programming and analytics is a must, fully leveraging AI requires a range of softer skills, such as collaboration, adaptability, and curiosity.

AI is a complex technology with many layers and modes of operation. It is unlikely that any given model will be used by one person, and with its capacity to self-learn and self-heal, it isn’t likely to maintain the same operational patterns for very long as traditional software does.

But perhaps the most radical change that AI brings to the table is the way it takes over the rote, repetitive functions of digital processes so that human operators can concentrate on the more strategic, creative aspects of their jobs. This will require knowledge workers to become more imaginative and flexible when it comes to their own job responsibilities.

Those who take a keen interest in their responsibilities and continuously strive toward improvement and better outcomes will thrive in an AI world, those who simply want to push buttons and navigate menus in the same way over and over again will not.

Top 5 Hot AI Job Markets

At the same time, we can expect certain industries to deploy AI at a more rapid pace than others and, consequently, will require more AI skills in their respective workforces going forward.

In Handshake’s analysis, the top areas for AI jobs are:

All of these fields rely on complex, integrated workflows that require large amounts of data and rapid turn-around of analytics and service delivery, providing fertile soil for skilled practitioners to let their AI seeds grow.

What About the Salaries?

For those who do become adept at developing and managing AI models, the prospect of high-paying jobs is bright. Career guidance specialist Vault Firsthand notes that skills in natural language processing (NLP) command salaries in the $80,000-$100,000 range, while business intelligence and robotics engineering can top $130,000.

If Big Data is your thing, salaries of $150,000 or more are not uncommon, and high demand for machine learning skills is pushing those jobs over $200,000.

Not Without Its Challenges

The farther out we project the AI era, of course, the more difficult it is to gauge the job market. Computer networking existed long before the Internet, but few could foresee the ubiquity of its modern iteration and the plethora of jobs it has spawned – not just technical jobs in wired and wireless networking, but things like SEO analyst and social media director, as well.

The Bottom Line

AI has the potential to create all manner of new jobs, probably new business models, and even entirely new industries. Not everyone has to become a specialist in the mind-bending math of software coding and data science, just like modern salesmen don’t need to know how to troubleshoot their CRM platforms.

But knowledge of how AI functions and what needs to be done to achieve desired results is essential – and the time to start learning those skills is now when the technology is still in a nascent stage of development.

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Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance technology journalist who has been covering IT and enterprise developments for more than 20 years. He contributes to a wide variety of leading technology web sites, including IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet, Point B and Beyond and multiple vendor services.