Who’s Hiring AI Talent in America?

When it comes to the future of work, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are poised to impact nearly every facet of the workforce in some way. Many studies have examined the likely impact of AI on jobs. But few have looked at hiring trends in AI-related jobs themselves — the actual workers building AI technology that will transform the labor market in coming decades, and the employers who are hiring them.

Job seekers with AI and “deep learning” skills are in high demand in Silicon Valley, Seattle and other tech hubs today. Media reports of tenured computer science professors being lured away from universities for lucrative data science roles are becoming increasingly common. However, it’s hard to go beyond these anecdotes to quantify the AI hiring landscape, since official BLS surveys do a poor job of tracking fast-growing tech and data science roles like these.

How many AI jobs are open in America today? What employers are hiring them? And what do they pay? In this analysis, we tackle these questions using Glassdoor’s powerful database of millions of online job postings, highlighting key trends in AI hiring today and what it means for the future of jobs and workplace automation.

What is Artificial Intelligence Anyway?

The phrase “artificial intelligence” has been around since the 1950s, when academic researchers like Alan Turing first began speculating whether computers could ever behave “intelligently” like people, rather than simply following a list of commands in code. Until recently, AI research was mostly theoretical, as it simply wasn’t practical to use because of limitations on computing power and the high cost of data storage.

Today, much faster processors, cheap cloud data storage and fast network connections have opened the door to practical uses of AI. These technologies are experiencing a boom today, and are being used for popular services like customer service chatbots at Bank of America, easy-to-search images on Facebook, and even automated fashion suggestions for apparel shoppers on Amazon.  

When most analysts talk about AI and how it’s being used in companies, they usually mean something like this: Using software and technology to perform tasks automatically that were previously done by a person. This is a very broad definition. But most AI being used in practice today relies on a single statistical technique, known as “deep learning” or “deep neural networks.”

While it sounds complex, the underlying idea is simple: You use some human-labeled data — such as a folder of pictures with faces that have been manually tagged by people — to build or “train” a statistical model. The model then uses that data to learn what’s a face, and what isn’t a face in pictures. That model can then be used to automatically label new faces in new photos without human intervention — automating a task previously done by a person. Although in practice there are many complications, that’s the basic way AI and deep learning are being used today to automate things we do at work.

How to Count Open AI Jobs in America?

It’s not easy to define what counts as an AI job. One way is to use a very broad definition, such as any open job at any company using or doing AI today. However, that’s probably too broad. It would count many non-AI jobs, such as an administrative assistant who happens to work at AI chip-making powerhouse NVIDIA.

On the other hand, we could use a very narrow definition of AI jobs, such as only tech roles that directly build and use AI, like software engineers and data scientists. However, that’s probably too narrow. We’d like to also include more diverse jobs that are riding the wave of AI growth, such as AI technical sales representatives or AI strategy consultants.

For this analysis, we take a middle-ground view: We count any role on Glassdoor that contains one of the following phrases in the job title: “artificial intelligence,” “AI,” or “deep learning.” While it’s true that many jobs today are using AI techniques without having AI in their job title, these roles are the ones that are most closely related to building or using AI, or are working directly to build and sustain a company’s AI group.

Using this definition, we pulled a sample of all active, unique U.S. job listings on Glassdoor as of October 20, 2017. We omitted all jobs listed by third party IT outsourcing and staffing firms; we want to be sure these are real AI job openings, at real U.S. employers. We then used the technology behind Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool — which, interestly enough, is based on a form of AI and machine learning itself — to estimate the median base pay for each AI job we found.

Although AI is making waves throughout the economy, the number of AI-related jobs open today is very small. In total, we found 512 unique AI and deep learning jobs open in the United States as of October 20, 2017. That’s about 0.009 percent of the roughly 6 million open U.S. jobs listed on Glassdoor today. Keep in mind that this is only counting jobs that list AI or “deep learning” in the actual job title; it’s possible that there are other AI jobs out there, but these 512 jobs likely make up most of the closely related AI jobs open in America today.

Let’s take a closer look at these open AI jobs, and the employers who are hiring them today.

Most Common AI Job Titles

The table below shows the 15 most common occupations among the open AI jobs we found on Glassdoor. Not surprisingly, the most common AI job open today is software engineer, making up 11 percent of online job openings. They’re followed by data scientist (4 percent of openings), software development engineer (4 percent of openings), and research scientist (4 percent of openings). These roles are the front-line workers building and using AI technology in today’s companies.

Other common AI roles hiring today are less technical. They include product managers (2 percent of openings), who are helping manage AI programs and transform them into useful products and services. Similarly, business development managers (1 percent of openings) are responsible for forming business relationships to help connect AI technology with revenue streams, helping turn AI into a viable business model. While not directly building and using AI, these non-tech roles are a critical part of the expansion of AI and workplace automation in today’s economy.

Top AI Jobs Open in the U.S.  

Occupation (Job Category) Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor Percentage of Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor
AI Software Engineer 56 11%
AI Data Scientist 23 4%
AI Software Development Engineer 21 4%
AI Research Scientist 18 4%
AI Product Manager 9 2%
AI Technical Program Manager 9 2%
AI Business Development Manager 7 1%
AI Solutions Architect 7 1%
AI Learning And Development Specialist 6 1%
AI Research Engineer 6 1%
AI Research Staff Member 6 1%
AI Technical Sales 5 1%
AI Back End Engineer 4 1%
AI Computer Scientist 4 1%
AI Financial Services 4 1%
All Others 327 64%
Total 512 100%

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research. Active unique job listings on Glassdoor with “artificial intelligence” or “deep learning” job titles as of October 20, 2017. Job titles are normalized into broad occupational groups using Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm that groups similar jobs.

Some Surprising AI-Related Jobs

Aside from the top 15 most common open AI jobs listed above, we also found many surprising, albeit less common, AI roles that highlight the diversity of jobs being created by today’s booming AI industry. Here are few examples:

  • AI copywriters, who are writing the copy used by AI customer service chatbots;
  • Attorneys for AI groups, who are managing valuable AI intellectual property and legal issues;
  • Technical sales directors; who are carrying AI innovations out into the field to connect these services with potential customers;  
  • AI analysts and strategy consultants, who are providing consulting and strategic advice for employers using and building AI technology;
  • Marketing managers for AI groups, who are building awareness and a top-of-funnel customer base for companies offering AI technology as a product or service;
  • User experience or “UX” designers for AI, who are creative talent tasked with building elegant and easy-to-use AI interfaces for customers; and
  • AI journalists, covering news in the fast-moving deep learning and AI industry.

What this diverse set of jobs illustrates is that even today, growing AI is giving rise to unexpected new roles in non-tech sectors. These are jobs that would not likely have existed without the recent growth of AI. Just as AI is making some older jobs obsolete by automating things previously done by a person, AI is also opening up new business channels and creating new jobs along the way.

Some of these new AI jobs are tech roles like software engineers and data scientists. But some of them are more surprising non-tech roles like technical sales and business development professionals. History teach us that it’s very hard to predict what new jobs a technological advance will lead to, and what jobs it will change or destroy. But in general, technological advances almost always end up creating more jobs than they destroy — sometimes in unexpected areas, as with the example of “AI copywriters” above.

What’s happening in the AI world today is a classic example of what economists sometimes call “creative destruction.” Tech innovations like AI are disrupting and destroying many existing jobs. But in the process, it is also creating many new roles in unexpected places throughout the economy. This process of “creative destruction” is the engine that drives up U.S. productivity and living standards over time, and explains why there are still so many jobs today despite a century of widespread automation and technological advances

Employers Hiring AI Talent

In the table below, we show the top 15 employers hiring for AI and deep learning talent in America today.

Overall tech employers — both software and hardware — dominate the list. Leading the pack is Seattle-based Amazon, which alone makes up 13 percent of open AI jobs in our sample. It is followed by Santa Clara-based graphics chip maker NVIDIA, which accounts for 6 percent of open AI jobs, along with Microsoft (4 percent of openings) and IBM (3 percent of openings). These companies are leading the way in terms of developing and applying AI technology today.

Other top employers hiring AI jobs include Accenture (3 percent of openings), whose strategy consulting arm is actively involved in helping companies plan and deploy AI through their operations. It also includes Wells Fargo (1 percent of openings) who like many financial firms is using AI to streamline manual transactions and improve customer service. Finally, it includes Rakuten Marketing, the digital advertising arm of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.

Top Employers Hiring AI Talent

Employer Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor Percentage of Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor
Amazon 64 13%
NVIDIA 31 6%
Microsoft 18 4%
IBM 17 3%
Accenture 14 3%
Facebook 12 2%
Intel 12 2%
Samsung 10 2%
Lenovo 9 2%
Adobe 8 2%
MoTek Technologies 8 2%
Uber 7 1%
PCO Innovation 6 1%
Rakuten Marketing 6 1%
Wells Fargo 6 1%
All Others 284 55%
Total 512 100%

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research. Active unique job listings on Glassdoor with “artificial intelligence” or “deep learning” job titles as of October 20, 2017.

In addition to the top 15 employers listed above, many other interesting employers appeared in our sample of companies hiring AI jobs, including the following:

A common misperception today is that only large tech employers are hiring AI talent. The diverse list of employers we found above shows that’s not the case. Also, this list of employers offers clues about what industries are most likely to be impacted by AI-related job automation in coming decades — based on our analysis of open AI jobs, that includes tech, finance, consulting, and marketing among others.

What Metros Are Hiring AI Talent?

The table below shows the top 15 U.S. metro areas with the most open AI jobs in on our sample. As expected, San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley leads the pack with 30 percent of open AI jobs, followed closely by San Francisco with 18 percent of openings. Tech-heavy Seattle ranks 3rd with 8 percent of open AI jobs, followed by Los Angeles (6 percent of openings), New York City (5 percent of openings), and Boston (5 percent of openings).

Top Metros Hiring AI Talent

Metro Location Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor Percentage of Open AI Jobs on Glassdoor
San Jose 152 30%
San Francisco 91 18%
Seattle 43 8%
Los Angeles 32 6%
New York City 27 5%
Boston 24 5%
Washington DC 17 3%
Chicago 14 3%
San Diego 10 2%
Charlotte 9 2%
Raleigh 8 2%
Austin 5 1%
Dallas 5 1%
Philadelphia 5 1%
Atlanta 4 1%
All Others 66 13%
Total 512 100%

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research. Active unique job listings on Glassdoor with “artificial intelligence” or “deep learning” job titles as of October 20, 2017.

Taken together, roughly two-thirds (or 65 percent) of all open AI jobs in our sample were hiring in just two states: California and Washington. While the number of employers hiring for AI-related jobs is on the rise, this shows they are still heavily concentrated in the nation’s largest tech clusters: Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston and New York City.

What Do AI Jobs Pay?

It’s very hard to estimate pay for AI jobs. That’s because compensation for these roles is often complex, with a significant share of pay in stock options or restricted stock units that are hard to value and are often misreported on salary surveys — both official BLS surveys, and private surveys from job sites like Glassdoor.

In this analysis, we focus only on base pay for open AI jobs. We do so because base pay is the most accurately-reported portion of pay for most jobs. And although it doesn’t capture bonuses or stock-related compensation, it’s a useful benchmark that allows an apples-to-apples comparison of pay for different jobs today.

In our sample, we used the technology behind Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to estimate median base pay for the open AI jobs in our sample. The overall average base pay for the AI jobs in our sample was $111,118 per year — more than twice the U.S. median base pay for full-time workers of $51,220 per year. However, pay varies widely among the AI jobs in our sample.

The figure below shows the distribution of median base pay for the open AI jobs in our sample. The horizontal axis shows estimated base pay for the job, and the vertical axis shows the number of AI jobs in each salary range. In the figure, each green bar or “bin” has a width of $20,000 per year, ranging from zero to $280,000 per year.  

Overall, pay for open AI jobs is roughly bell-shaped. It has a peak between $100,000 and $120,000 per year. The lowest-paying jobs in our sample had an estimated base pay of between $20,000 and $40,000 per year, while the highest paying AI roles earned an estimated $240,000 to $260,000 per year in base pay. Even without accounting for bonuses and stock-related compensation, the highest-paying AI jobs in our sample already rank among the top-earning jobs in America today.

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research. Active unique job listings on Glassdoor with “artificial intelligence” or “deep learning” job titles as of October 20, 2017.

What are some examples of these high-paying AI job openings? In the table below, we show the top 15 highest-paying AI-related jobs in our sample. To mask the identity of specific employers, we have anonymized the job titles for these roles. However, each one corresponds to an actual AI job open on Glassdoor as of October 20, 2017.

The top-paying AI job in our sample is an executive-level role for Director of AI at a leading tech company. Our best estimate of the median base pay for that role is roughly $257,269 per year, not including bonuses and stock-related compensation. That’s followed by a VP of Product Management role — interestingly, not a strictly tech role — with an estimated median base pay of $249,500 per year, and a Data Engineer for Deep Learning role with a base pay of $243,623 per year.

Seven of the top 15 highest-paying AI jobs are in either the Internet & Tech or Computer Software & Hardware industry. However, roles in Retail, Banking & Financial Services, Consulting, Manufacturing, and Marketing & Advertising also top the list. This shows that tech is not the only industry hiring AI talent today, and many other traditional industries are competing for these candidates — and paying top dollar for them.

Top 15 AI Job Titles with Highest Pay

Job Title Metro Estimated Median Base Pay Employer Industry
Director of AI San Francisco $257,269 Internet & Tech
VP of AI Product Management San Jose $249,500 Marketing & Advertising
Data Engineer for Deep Learning San Jose $243,623 Computer Software & Hardware
Attorney for AI Division Los Angeles $203,710 Internet & Tech
Deep Learning Engineer for Self-Driving Cars San Francisco $203,450 Consulting
Director of Marketing for AI San Jose $202,876 Manufacturing
Director of Machine Learning & AI San Jose $200,627 Computer Software & Hardware
Director of Technical Sales for AI San Francisco $190,098 Computer Software & Hardware
Director of Research for AI Seattle $188,966 Computer Software & Hardware
Software Engineering Lead for AI Seattle $186,435 Retail
Director of AI Product Management San Francisco $186,427 Internet & Tech
Senior AI Architect San Francisco $186,273 Banking & Financial Services
Head Scientist for Deep Learning San Jose $184,330 Farming & Agriculture
Applied Scientist for AI San Jose $183,843 Retail
Engineer for Deep Learning San Francisco $182,862 Manufacturing

Note: Exact job titles have been modified to mask the identity of specific employers.
Source: Glassdoor Economic Research. Active unique job listings on Glassdoor with “artificial intelligence” or “deep learning” job titles as of October 20, 2017.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence is making waves in the hiring world. In this analysis, we found a small but active job market for AI talent, with 512 open AI and deep learning jobs on Glassdoor as of October 20, 2017.

Most companies hiring AI talent today on Glassdoor are hiring for software engineers and data scientists. However, there are also many technical sales, business development, product management, UX design and other roles being created by today’s rising tide of AI in the workplace. And there are even a few surprising AI-related jobs, including AI copywriters, journalists covering the AI industry, and attorneys working within AI groups.

In terms of companies hiring AI talent today, Amazon, NVIDIA and Microsoft lead the pack. However, a growing number of employers in the financial services, consulting and government sectors are also emerging as major employers of AI talent. While the list of industries using AI is growing, most open AI jobs today are still located in a few metro areas: Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York City.

AI and deep learning show great promise for the future. Although widespread adoption of AI in the workplace has a long way to go, our analysis shows AI jobs are a small but growing part of the workforce — and many unexpected AI-related jobs are being created today, helping to replace older jobs being made obsolete by AI and automation.