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How to Become a Machine Learning Engineer

With the rising demand of artificial intelligence systems, the job opportunities available for machine learning engineers continue to grow. Read to learn the steps required to become a machine learning engineer.

Machine Learning Engineering Overview

Machine learning engineers are computer programmers tasked with designing software that solves problems or performs tasks by training algorithms to determine probable outcomes of specific questions. Machine learning software typically notices patterns from several data sources and determines the appropriate solution or formula through trial and error by continuously testing alternatives and analyzing its own responses. Read the table below for additional details about this field.

Average Annual Salary (2019) $111,657*
Career Outlook (2018-2028) 21% (for all software developers)**
Education Required Bachelor's or advanced degree in Computer Science required; continuous education and/or certifications recommended
Skills Required Computer science fundamentals; probability and statistics; data modeling and evaluation; software engineering and system design

Sources: *Payscale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Does A Machine Learning Engineer Need?

Machine learning engineering is a combination of several computer science specializations, including system design, software development, software architecture and algorithm design. As such, a strong foundation in computer engineering fundamentals is required. Most machine learning engineer jobs require a formal education in computer science, which could be either a bachelor's or advanced degree in the field.

What Programming Languages Should I Know?

Python is one of the most often required languages for machine learning engineer jobs. Other popular languages required are Java and R. For roles involving deep learning (a subset of machine learning processes that is gaining more popularity) you should also be well versed in C++ and C.

Do I Need Certifications or Advanced Degrees?

Most employers are seeking candidates not just with a general computer science education, but significant experience creating software or designing algorithms in areas related to machine learning, such as statistical modeling, information retrieval and natural language. Though seeking entry-level roles that expose you to these skills is a natural first step toward becoming a machine learning engineer, you can gain the necessary experience by seeking formal training in courses or certifications. Formal training from online certifications (either from universities or other online education providers) may sometimes be preferred.

What Other Skills Are Expected of Machine Learning Engineers?

Because machine learning algorithms process and gain insights from large amounts of data, most machine learning engineers need experience in data analysis concepts and techniques. These include skills related to statistics, probability, distributions, and data modeling. Data modeling refers to a wide range of techniques to identify and evaluate patterns in data sets, such as clustering and regressions.

What Is The Career Outlook Expected For Machine Learning Engineers?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not analyze the outlook for machine learning engineers separately, but instead includes them under the broad category of software developers. They calculate a growth of 21% in the field between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than average compared to other professions. Payscale estimated the mean annual salary for machine learning engineers in 2019 as $111,657.