Becoming an AI Engineer: Roadmap, Skills, & Roles

Artificial Intelligence
Written by:
App Academy
Published on:
July 5, 2023

Discover the roadmap to becoming an AI engineer with this comprehensive guide on the necessary steps and skills required. This article provides a detailed path to help you navigate your way into the AI engineering field.

Computer science has already revolutionized our way of processing information and making decisions with artificial intelligence (AI). Undoubtedly, AI will continue to change the world in the coming years. AI is now indispensable in a wide range of industries, including finance, healthcare, and transportation.

As a result of the AI revolution, there are exceptional opportunities for aspiring AI engineers. Your role will include developing innovative AI systems that enhance numerous tasks like speech recognition, image processing, financial security, and business management.

If you’re interested in programming and want a fulfilling, lucrative career at the vanguard of technology and culture, pursuing a career as an AI engineer opens the door for you. Take a look at our AI engineer roadmap to find out more about this exciting career.

What is AI Engineering?

AI engineering develops the tools, systems, and processes for AI implementation in the real-world. By training algorithms with data, machines can learn and mimic human functions, solving problems and adapting over time. If you use platforms and apps that offer recommendations (like Netflix or Spotify), you’ve seen how AI learns and adapts. Self-driving cars and surgical robots also use AI technology.

What Does an AI Engineer Do?

AI engineers create systems that align with human needs and mission objectives. Some of the regular tasks assigned to you as an AI engineer might include the following:

  • Creating AI applications that will automate mundane tasks for humans
  • Conceptualizing, designing, and building machine-learning algorithms
  • Working with robotics teams
  • Researching new uses for AI in everyday life
  • Running AI tests and experiments

Of course, your role as an AI engineer will adapt and evolve as the uses for AI change.  

What Industries Do AI Engineers Work In?

Big tech companies aren’t the only ones who need AI engineers. You might also work in a wide range of other industries.


In the world of finance, AI enables organizations to detect fraudulent activity by learning user habits to improve customer security. AI also drives market research, automating repetitive and mundane tasks. And AI identifies market trends and performance so investors can make informed decisions.

Learn More About Coding in Finance: Coding in Finance: Learning to Code with a Finance Background


AI engineering is leading transportation initiatives. It can already predict accidents by analyzing environmental factors, optimizing traffic flow, warning drivers of road hazards, and predicting safety threats.


AI-driven robots optimize production speeds and supply chains while predicting maintenance issues and seamlessly integrating with other systems. Manufacturers use AI to determine machine failures, allowing preventative maintenance and repairs to be scheduled in advance.


Healthcare is one of the most essential industries making use of AI. AI has been helping reduce costs, save time, and improve patient outcomes. AI is already involved in drug discoveries, patient treatment plans, and surgical robots.

Education & Qualifications Necessary to Become an AI Engineer

The education and qualifications you’ll need to become a software engineer are based on the technical and soft skills required in the field, which we’ll discuss in more detail below:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, IT, computer science, data science, statistics, or mathematics
  • A master’s degree in a related field may not be necessary but is strongly recommended
  • AI-related certifications, such as a Certified Artificial Intelligence Engineer (CAIE™) or a Google Data Analytics Certification

Technical Skills Needed to Become a Software Engineer

No matter what industry you pursue, AI engineering is, obviously, a technical career. Here’s a list of some technical skills you need to get started.

Software Engineering and Programming Languages

Your job in AI engineering will require you to be fluent in some common programming languages. This will allow you to write, adapt, and optimize machine learning algorithms for AI programs. AI engineers should know, at the very least, Python, Java, C++, and R. App Academy teaches some of the best languages that may be useful in a career as an AI engineer.

Learn More:

Linear Algebra, Probability, and Statistics

Understanding, programming, and testing new AI models require deep knowledge of math and statistics. AI engineers must understand the math behind how different models work and the statistics and probability behind the validity of AI test results.

Big Data Technologies

You’ll work with enormous amounts of data and must understand how big data technologies work to collect, analyze, and sort information. Otherwise, you may wind up stuck in the weeds or wasting time.


AI is built on algorithms. The more you understand how they work in terms of programming AI, the better your chances of landing a job as an AI engineer. You should also have strong skills in running those algorithms through programming frameworks.

Soft Skills Needed to Become a Software Engineer

AI engineers don’t just write code and test programs all day. You’ll need the following soft skills to get into – and succeed in – AI engineering.

Critical Thinking

You’ll run into many different problems that will require creative problem-solving on your part. When it comes to AI, there will be problems that haven’t yet been anticipated. Good critical thinking skills will be necessary to find innovative solutions to unprecedented problems.


Active listening is a big part of good communication. You’ll work with people across a wide range of fields, even within your company. Active listening will help you ask the right questions and sift through the answers to understand what’s expected of you. You’ll also need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly, concisely, and correctly to both technical and non-technical team members and clients.

Business Intelligence

As part of the AI team, your job will be to understand your industry and how you fit into that culture. Your projects should help your company stay competitive and innovative. You’ll be expected to understand what your clients or customers want and need, what competitors are up to, and how you can address specific pain points.


Software engineers generally work in teams. If you want to be successful in your AI engineering career, you’ll need a good grasp of what teamwork looks like and how you can be a valuable, contributing member of your team in positions ranging from entry-level to leadership. At App Academy, our students learn to work in pairs and groups to solve problems and complete projects together.

Learn More: The Importance of Teamwork & Communication in Software Engineering

How Much Does an AI Engineer Make?

On average, an AI engineer makes about $156,648. However, that number will vary based on your education, years of experience, and where you work:

  • Entry-level AI engineers (your first 2-4 years) typically make around $119,289 per year, while senior-level engineers (8+ years) can make $148,780 or more.
  • Engineers in major cities like San Francisco and New York make more per year than their peers in non-major cities. In San Francisco, an AI engineer can make around $147,947 annually, while an engineer in Billings, MT, will make around $111,102.
  • An AI engineer with just a bachelor’s degree will make, on average, around $60,000-88,000, while their peers with master’s degrees will make over $120,000.

AI Engineer Road Map

Ready to start the path toward becoming an AI engineer? We have a roadmap that can help you get there.

1. Fill Education & Skills Gaps

If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to AI, technology, engineering, or computer science, now’s the time to start pursuing one. Along the way, make sure you learn the technical and soft skills we mentioned above. Specialized bootcamps can fast-track your skills in learning some of the coding and programming languages you’ll need to know.

2. Gain Experience

Employers want to see your skills in action. That means developing a portfolio of projects. You can work as an intern or volunteer in your community, for example. The more hands-on experience you gain, the better you’ll look to potential employers.

3. Build an AI Portfolio

Building a portfolio of projects shows potential employers what you can do in the real-world. Bootcamps can help you start working on projects to add to your programming portfolio if you’ve never tackled one before. You can also work on your own projects and attend hackathons to work on specific types of projects, or projects based in certain languages or industries, to showcase your strengths.

4. Grow Your Professional Network & Find a Mentor

Networking and mentorships are great ways to find a job as an AI engineer. Your school or bootcamp will likely offer you the benefit of participating in an alumni network or career counseling to help you find job opportunities. There are also professional organizations you can join, such as the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), that can facilitate networking through events, workshops, and conferences.

5. Apply for Jobs

Looking for, applying to, and interviewing for a job can be arduous. Take advantage of whatever career counseling programs your school or bootcamp offers. They’re designed to help people like you write an eye-catching resume, build a strong portfolio, learn how to apply for jobs, and master your interviewing skills. Even without access to career counseling, sites like Indeed and LinkedIn have free articles on each step of the job search process.

Start Developing Your Skills with App Academy

While App Academy’s bootcamps do not directly prepare students for a career in AI engineering, we can help you take the important first step of learning Python and other important technical and soft skills that can help you along your journey. From there, you can work to acquire any additional skills needed along the path toward your dream career.

Our coding bootcamps and App Academy Open programs are a great way to immerse yourself in the world of coding and programming. With App Academy, you’ll be ready for your next step in becoming an AI engineer!

Schedule a call with an App Academy admissions counselor to learn more about our programs. And, if you’re ready to dig in deeper, start exploring our programs to see which one might be a good fit for you!

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