Machine Learning Specialist or engineer is a relatively new profession. Despite that fact, we observe huge worldwide demand for ML specialists. The best candidates can expect a salary up to 200,000 dollars a year! No wonder this career attracts many people. But what does this job entail? What are the perspectives for machine learning engineers? What should you do in order to become a machine learning specialist? These are the questions, we are going to answer, let’s do the machine learning specialist job description.

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What is a machine learning specialist all about? Well, it is a relatively new profession. It is almost impossible to tell, when exactly the demand for the ML specialists has started. The first attempts to apply machine learning services to real life, with the usage of a data-driven approach were in the 1990s. It took another ten years to widespread machine learning methods. So we might estimate that the machine learning engineer profession is less than 20 years old.

hand on computer keyboard

Currently, machine learning is tightly connected to many related fields of knowledge, to name just data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI). One does not exist without the other two. But the fact of the matter is the demand for ML specialists is growing every day. As you will see in this article, more and more companies invest in AI algorithms, therefore they need AI specialists and machine learning specialists. Are you after such a career? Well, read on!

Who is a Machine Learning Specialist?

We ought, to begin with, the most important question. Who exactly is a machine learning specialist or engineer? We can say that ML specialist is a software specialist with a strong mathematics background and a knowledge of coding, who’s core responsibilities are:

· Designing and developing machine learning and deep learning systems.
· Running machine learning tests and experiments.
· Implementing appropriate ML algorithms.

A machine learning specialist is most of the time involved in the development of AI algorithms and devices. As an ML engineer, you will take part in inventing and deploying innovative technologies, useful in almost every sector and industry. It is almost impossible to limit this job description to just one paragraph, because it involves working with many different departments and companies, with the usage of different codebases.

Specialist developing AI algorithms and devices

To perform this job you have to acquire strong knowledge of data because this is what you are going to work with most of the time. How data works, what’s it based on. You have to know perfectly data structures and data modeling. It might be very helpful if you had a degree in computer science, mathematics or similar field. That’s because a machine learning specialist has to display an understanding of math, probability, statistics, and algorithms in general. A large part of your duties will be coding. Mostly in coding languages such as Python, Java, Scala, C++ or JavaScript.

Where can you work as a ML specialist?

The short answer should be almost everywhere. For instance, there are lots of start-ups working in the sector of Artificial Intelligence, such as Addepto, who are constantly looking for new talents. Do you prefer to work with the big players? Microsoft, Google, Nokia, JP Morgan, Cisco, Amazon, Apple, IBM are just a few big companies, which are currently looking for ML engineers.

Demand for ML specialists grows along with increasing investments in AI algorithms. LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report shows there are almost 10 times more Machine Learning Engineers working today than just five years ago with 1,829 open positions listed on their site as of early 2018.

machine learning specialist or engineer working in coffee shop

Artificial Intelligence is being applied in such sectors and industries as: motor industry (self-driving vehicles), banking (fraud protection), economics (market forecasts), pharmacy (drug development), healthcare (AI medical assistants), retail (self-service checkout), translations (machine translation), eCommerce (AI shopping assistant, chatbots) or marketing (personalized advertising). But the list is much longer and by no means limited to these sectors mentioned above. Data scientists and machine learning engineers are constantly developing and inventing new usages of AI technology, so you might expect that this list will be longer with every year, up to the moment, when every big company will just have to implement AI to their business.

How much do Machine Learning specialists earn?

Again, the short answer should be – a lot. That’s because current demand exceeds supply. Many companies claim outright – there is a shortage of candidates. What’s bad for the companies, is good for the candidates. The demand has driven up wages. Glassdoor estimates that average salaries for AI-related jobs advertised on company career sites rose 11 percent between October 2017 and September 2018 to $123,069 annually. The best, most experienced candidates can expect a salary of up to $200,000 annually. That makes ML specialists and AI engineers one of the highest earners on the market.

Take a look at the salaries report. In the United States average salaries are as follows (annually):

· Data Scientist: $121,853, based on 3108 salaries reports
· Machine Learning Engineer: $138,647, based on 1093 salaries reports

Machine Learning specialist woman happy holding phone and tablet

How to become an ML Specialist?

You now know who exactly is ML specialist/engineer, where they can work, and how much do they earn. Now let’s focus on the career of a machine learning specialist. How to become a machine learning specialist? We will divide this part of the text into three fields: personal qualifications, education, and experience. Let’s get started!


You need to be 100% analytical, with a problem-solving approach. Strong math background in a huge asset. Probability, statistics, algorithms – these concepts have to be at your fingertips. If you see yourself as a mathematician, coder or engineer – probably this is a job for you. You also have to develop qualities related to teamwork. Very rarely ML engineer works on his own, in most cases, he or she is a part of a much larger AI team, consisting of data scientists, machine learning engineers, AI specialists, analysts, technicians, developers, and consultants.

Probability, statistics, algorithms developed by data scientists


A master’s degree in computer science, mathematics or similar relevant field is a necessity. As TechRepublic indicates, you have to master data structures (stacks, queues, multi-dimensional arrays, trees, graphs), algorithms (searching, sorting, optimization, dynamic programming), computability and complexity (P vs. NP, NP-complete problems, big-O notation, approximate algorithms), and computer architecture (memory, cache, bandwidth, deadlocks, distributed processing).

You have to master coding languages, such as Python, C++, JavaScript, Java, C#, Julia, Shell, R, TypeScript. These are the languages most commonly used in the machine learning field.

education in computer science, programmer, code


It would be easy to say – you simply need previous experience as a machine learning specialist. But how to become a machine learning specialist if you have no previous experience? You have several options. First: look for internships. As we established, there is a shortage of candidates, so if you have a proper background and are willing to start working – it should be workable. Send your applications to the AI and ML start-ups and companies. They should be open to new talents, even inexperienced ones. Don’t worry that there was no announcement on their website. Your proactivity will win you the first job!

Your other options are to conduct some personal projects in GitHub or attending hackathons and coding challenges. Granted, it is difficult to start with no experience, but don’t limit yourself to the job offers. This way you close yourself many possibilities, unnecessarily. Do anything (internships, contests, volunteer work, personal projects, after-school clubs) that can show your future employer that you understand machine learning. Mention all of that in your resume, and a road leading to your first job will be wide and open. So how to become a machine learning specialist? Do whatever you can, gather experience instead of job offers!

Experience through internships, data science

How to source a machine learning specialist?

Now, let’s turn from the candidates and employees to the employers. One has a problem “how to become a machine learning specialist” and other “how to source a machine learning specialist”.

As an employer, you have three options
· either you can hire a machine learning engineer or
· outsource him from an AI company or
· just start a cooperation with the AI/ML company.

All three options have pros and cons, but as we said it is difficult to get to your company an experienced machine learning specialist. So you should be open to other ways.

machine learning engineer at AI company happy by desk with book and computer

If you decide to hire an ML specialist you have to have some ways to check his or her qualifications and experience. And for that you need… a machine learning specialist, unless you are one. So two other options last. You can outsource just one ML specialist and work with him or her in your company or you can find yourself a company like Addepto, which already hires ML specialists and specializes in this field.

Advantages of hiring an AI company

This should be your best bet because it is the fastest solution, economically profitable (because you pay just for the work done) and time-saving. Sometimes just the process of hiring ML specialists can take several weeks or months! Why not invest that time in cooperation with AI consulting company instead? If it is the beginning of your adventure with Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and/or deep learning, you should choose to co-operate with an AI company. You get ready to work a team of specialists, with an entrepreneurial approach and a vast, multidisciplinary experience. You can see how to pick right AI consulting company here.

machine learning solutions

Remember, here at Addepto we are always open for cooperation with companies that want to implement all of the advantages of machine learning into their business. Let’s chat! We will tell you a bit more about our work and we will discuss how can we be helpful in your company. Just drop us a line!


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