AI experts are in demand, in the money and in New York

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(Late)Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, there’s increasing demand for highly-skilled workers in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. But there’s a limited pool of talent, and viable candidates who smell the desperation are putting a high price on their skills.

The number of job postings featuring “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning” in their description has doubled since 2015, according to global jobs site Indeed.com. Prospective employees are increasingly seeking out those jobs, too. Search entries for AI and machine learning positions have increased by 182 percent over the last three years. But more job searches don’t mean more qualified applicants, as industries struggle to find sufficiently skilled candidates.

“As AI development and adoption continues to rise across industries, it’s likely there will be more competition for this talent,” said Raj Mukherjee, senior vice president of product at Indeed. “It may be cause for concern for employers looking to find workers with AI skill sets, since these jobs require highly skilled workers with backgrounds in natural language processing, machine learning, and data science.”

Indeed said it analyzed millions of job postings in the U.S. from June 2015 through June 2018. The report identified job titles that saw more than 20 percent of postings list “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning” in the description and derived information about salary and location.

If you’re looking to get into AI, set your sights on New York City, according to the report. Surprisingly, New York and not San Francisco boasts the highest percentage of AI and machine learning positions in a single metro area, with more than 11 percent of national job postings.

The technology sector has offered the highest-paying jobs in the U.S. for the last four consecutive years, according to a recent Glassdoor report. Companies such as Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. have long paid lucrative salaries to highly technical candidates with machine learning skills. Now other industries, including finance and healthcare, are doling out hefty paychecks as they seek to grab AI talent. Across the board, companies are paying six-figure salaries to attract workers from a limited pool of qualified candidates.

A director of analytics received the highest average pay among AI and machine learning jobs this year, topping off at $140,837, the report stated. Principal scientists, machine learning engineers, computer vision engineers and data scientists also saw highly competitive salaries, with the lowest average base pay well over $130,000.

“The industry needs to be creative in order to solve the supply-demand imbalance, one way to do so is by embracing job seekers with non-traditional backgrounds or by training them on the job,” Mukherjee said. “As companies continue to adopt AI solutions or develop their own in-house capabilities, it’s likely that demand by employers for these skills will continue to rise.”

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