Feeding Frenzy for AI Engineers Gets More Intense

Demand for software engineers with AI expertise continues to increase, while supply flattens

One job candidate with many empty chairs
Photo: Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

In December, Bloomberg reported that desperate demand for software engineers who know how to build artificial intelligence systems turned a previously low-key academic event “into a recruiting frenzy more akin to the National Football League’s draft day.”

Meanwhile, the Tencent Research Institute released a report indicating that there are currently only 300,000 AI researchers and practitioners worldwide, but the demand is for millions.

Earlier this month, Element AI set out to assess the AI talent pool. Based on LinkedIn postings, conference proceedings, and other data, the firm concluded that there are 22,000 PhD-educated researchers in the entire world who are capable of working in AI research and applications—but only 3,074 candidates currently looking for work.

And this week, job search firm Indeed weighed in, reporting that demand for engineers with AI expertise has grown consistently over the past year and a half, and more than doubled over the past three years, however, job seeker interest in these positions has leveled off. That seems like a sign that the number of AI experts coming onto the job market is no longer growing, though Indeed didn’t extrapolate to a particular conclusion.

Indeed’s numbers, as shown on the chart above, were determined by considering job postings between February 2017 and February 2018 in which the description included “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning.” This scooped up titles like machine learning engineer, algorithm developer, data scientist, and predictive modeler.

Which companies are involved in this AI talent feeding frenzy? The list, says Indeed, starts with Amazon, followed by Booz-Allen Hamilton and KPMG [see table, below].

And, says the search firm, 21.25 percent of those jobs are in the San Francisco Bay Area, followed by 13.05 percent in the New York metropolitan region, 8.16 percent in Washington, DC, area, and 6.29 percent around Seattle.  

The View From the Valley Newsletter

The people, places and peculiarities of Silicon Valley.

About View From the Valley blog

IEEE Spectrum’s blog featuring the people, places, and passions of the world of technologists in Silicon Valley and its environs.