With smart technology, viz Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) , Predictive Analysis, Deep Learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) having made deep penetrations into the Indian scheme of things, research around these areas has naturally seen steady growth. In fact, experts in smart technologies believe that these innovations would extend more to our personal spaces in the next five years. By virtue of this, existing societal issues would also be potentially solved.
Now, with a greater potential for real-world impact, smart technology aspects promise lucrative careers for engineers taking these up as their line of work now. In fact, experts even advise engineers to take up careers in smart domains immediately after graduating from college. Scope for research, development, and innovation (in smart technology) is now on an exponential rise.
Regarding smart technology, especially AI, we spoke to domain experts to understand how it is to work as an AI researcher whilst understanding scope for growth and future potential.
Debunking myths – Artificial Intelligence is no longer ‘western’
Experts we spoke to, first chose to debunk associated myths. One popular myth that has been doing the rounds of late is “AI does not fit in the Indian scheme of things, and is completely western.”.
“Artificial Intelligence is very much needed in India, we are sitting on a potential AI time bomb that is ready to explode, impacts of this explosion would be more than the Information Technology enabled services (ITes),” states Arun Kumar P – a Bengaluru-based AI researcher.
Arun also believes that by making machines smart & intelligent (motto of AI), humans would be offloaded from the burden of having to get to the ground level of things always. This naturally is an indicator about the plaguing ground level societal issues getting mitigated through AI and associated technology.
“Machine learning has been increasingly capable of accurately diagnosing a range of physical and mental health conditions in recent years,” states Bastin Robin – chief data scientist at Bengaluru-based Hash Research Labs. Bastin’s statement adds enough substance to Arun’s beliefs about AI suiting well within the Indian economy.
“If a person is regularly sleeping less, getting stressed and adopting lifestyle habits that increase risk of diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases etc, smart systems should be able to capture the information and trigger appropriate alerts,” adds Arun Mallavarappu co-founder of Bengaluru-based Fedo which is a health-tech startup. Arun Mallavarapu’s statements hits the nail squarely on the need as far as relevance of AI to the Indian scheme of things is concerned.
Myths busted = Understanding actual career scope
Artificial Intelligence uses data, data, and more data. Data requires analysis, this means that engineers taking to companies involved in AI research would naturally get to work as data analyst at the initial levels.
Nonetheless, AI comprises of interesting stuff viz robotics, game programming, employing neural networks, development of intelligent software through coding, and more.
“As of now, the ITes biggies are turning towards AI and associated smart technology. They are constantly looking at hiring for mid-senior and senior levels,” states a Mumbai-based career expert who requested not to be named.
“Working on robotics is not only interesting but also satisfying. Robots designed smartly through AI, by engineers, can take care of tasks that are generally considered cumbersome at the human level,” adds Ajay Godara who is director at Chandigarh-based Enovation Lab LLP. Ajay also offers training on robotics, to interested minds.
Generally, experts are of the unanimous thought that engineers taking up careers in AI and smart technology would get to make potentially lucrative careers considering the wide reach of the sector.
AI can be applied almost everywhere, so jobs are naturally more
With AI not being restricted to a certain domain, engineers should naturally find comparatively more jobs across domains like healthcare, education, retail, and even agriculture.
“With startups mushrooming rapidly, jobs in AI have also naturally multiplied,” states a recruiter at well-known job portal Naukri.
“The next 3 years will witness an augmented growth for people who are working in the AI domain, since all major industries and most sectors of business have started adopting AI as a key differentiator. It is now up to the engineers to leverage the opportunity and develop skill sets around AI and make their profiles more valuable in the market,” states Gopalakrishna Bylahalli – senior vice-president & chief technology officer of digital transformation and enterprise solutions at Bengaluru-based Happiest Minds Technologies.
Here, startups are engrossed in research to solve problems that have for long being viewed as ‘hard-hitting’. Therefore, engineers should be willing to take up jobs in startups.
“With the surge in demand for AI platforms and solutions from all industries, both Indian and MNC companies are equally focusing on AI services and therefore a clear demarcation cannot be done on who is leading the game,” adds Gopalakrishna.
An illustration, now, is AI engineers getting to develop cognitive platforms for airport or theme parks for navigation, planning, sale, and event recommendation.
Other specific opportunities include jobs as medical health professionals working with artificial limbs, prosthetics, hearing aids, and vision restoration devices. There are also many more ‘generalised’ sectors such as education; here, engineers could also work as post-secondary professors at technical (and trade) schools, along with vocational centres and different universities across the country.
What does it take to land good AI jobs
“A degree in computer science and engineering (CSE) is an added advantage, in tandem with mastery in deep learning, artificial intelligence concepts, and predictive analysis algorithms,” states Arun Kumar. Engineers in other domains can also take up AI jobs with the right skillsets.
“Developing the systems and infrastructure that can apply machine learning to an input data set. This is just like any other software engineering position. You can get these jobs with a bachelor’s in a related field,” adds Bastin Robin.
As far as more generalised skillsets are concerned, expertise in mathematics is much sough-after. Industry experts believe that with the right combination of engineering and mathematics, AI would be easy to master thereby leading to candidates qualifying during technical interviews.
“Big Data skillsets also make for good AI engineers,” advices Arun. At this instant, it is worth remembering that data analytics and big data in tandem are careers by themselves. Now, with experts having pointed out that these also work for AI, mastery in analytics is potentially multi-disciplinary.
It should not be difficult for students to find degree programs that offer specific majors in AI, or to pursue an AI specialization from within majors such as computer science, health informatics, graphic design, and information technology.
In summary, machine learning, natural language processing, along with the above skillsets should make you an expert AI engineer to develop solutions for real-world issues.
What does careers in AI pay, what are the designations to expect?
Experts opine that this is a tricky question. “Pay packages vary as per the discipline of work. It is difficult to exactly throw light on the pay, due to the multi-domain and inter-disciplinary nature of AI,” adds the anonymous recruiter at Naukri.
Nonetheless, career experts have stated that with the right skill-sets, engineers working on AI-driven projects can expect to earn anywhere between ₹3.5Lakhs – ₹4Lakhs per annum. With experience of around 4-5 years, AI engineers (and scientists) could potentially look at the ₹8Lakhs-₹9Lakhs pay range.
At this stage, you should remember that companies look for complete expertise on AI skillsets; hence, it is desirable that you acquire proper training and certifications from reputed institutes (even at your college level) during or immediately after graduation.
Another point to keep in mind is, to research on the startups working on offering AI-integrated solutions. These firms could be in your area. Initiating direct communication with these establishments should allow you to extensively research the aspect son offer with respect to careers.
“AI would offer a wide spectrum of positions varying from Chief Scientists to Analysts. The other few distinguished, novel and sought after profiles in the industry would be that of AI Experts, Digital Consultants, and more,” states Gopalakrishna.
Network at events
Finally, experts advise engineers seeking careers in AI to network extensively at industry events. The first step to this is to find out the major technology events happening, register for these as guests and participants, and then meet industry experts to understand the real-world requirements of AI.
“To take your understanding on AI to the next level, it is vital that you personally connect with the ones who have ‘been-there’ and ‘done-that’,” signs-off Arun Kumar.
|Arun P Kumar||a Bengaluru-based AI researcher working independently to provide smart expertise to startups and large establishments|
|Gopalakrishna Bylahalli||Senior Vice-President & Chief Technology Officer of digital transformation and enterprise solutions at Bengaluru-based Happiest Minds Technologies|
|Arun Mallavarapu||Co-Founder of Bengaluru-based Fedo; a health-tech startup|
|Bastin Robin||Chief Data Scientist at Bengaluru-based Hash Research Labs|
|Senior Recruiter at leading job-portal Naukri, who requested annonymity|
|Anonymous Mumbai-based career expert associated with an international conglomerate|
Written by Rahul R, Senior Technical Journalist at EFY