AI remains South African developers’ most promising industry and our 2023 State of the Developer Nation data shows that 34.5% of developers have some experience working with an AI API as part of their current role.
If you’re looking to pivot into an AI-focused role, demonstrating your knowledge and experience with AI development can give you an edge. Here are some tips on acquiring the skills you need to stand out.
1. Ramp up Your Technical Skills
Most AI development roles will require experience working with Python and R, as well as Keras, PyTorch, scikit-learn and TensorFlow.
Having worked with big data tech, such as Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark, will be useful considering a role in AI will mean working with large datasets.
Besides experience with specific tools, it will help to have a good understanding of Machine Learning, Deep Learning and other AI-related fundamentals.
Complete Online Courses
Alex Steinberg, an OfferZen senior software engineer, says developing your skills to pivot into the AI industry is the same as learning a new language:
“There are various ways to ramp up your technical skills that work for each developer. What I’ve seen work for others in making a job transition is high-quality courses on EdX or Coursera on AI or Machine Learning.”
We asked our community what courses and resources they recommend for developers looking to upskill in AI to break into the industry. Here are some suggestions:
- In addition to Coursera, check out Udemy and Simplilearn for AI, Machine Learning and AI-related tools (such as Python) courses.
- Complete free courses through YouTube, freeCodeCamp, Code with Mosh and Harvard’s CS50.
- Visit Stack Overflow to discover, ask and answer questions.
2. Understand the Industry
If you’re wanting to pivot into AI, it’s essential to understand where the industry currently stands in terms of existing products, theories and methodologies.
Join AI Communities
OfferZen Talent Advisors have found that candidates have the ability to set themselves apart when they join AI-focused communities and events to stay in the loop on emerging AI theories, methodologies, and tools.
Meetup.com is a great tool to find out what events are happening around you. These events are a great opportunity to network with others in the field. This could lead you to your next opportunity.
Identify Your Ideal Role
Exploring and determining what fields of AI you want to jump into will help you focus your job search on exciting opportunities.
Here are some fields you could explore:
- AI Engineer - develop, test and maintain software and models for AI systems.
- AI Architect - develop, maintain and implement the infrastructure for AI systems.
- Machine Learning Engineer - develop, test and maintain algorithms that are able to learn from large datasets and use the learning to make predictions or perform a task.
- Computer Vision Engineer - develop, test and maintain machines that interpret visual data.
- Natural Language Processing Engineer - develop, test and maintain machines that understand, interpret and generate human language.
- Robotics Engineer - develop and maintain various robotic equipment.
- Data Scientist - use machine learning and predictive analysis to collect, analyse and interpret large, complex datasets.
- Big Data Engineer - develop, test, maintain and analyse a company’s big data infrastructure.
- Business Intelligence Developer - design, model, maintain and analyse complex datasets to recognise trends that affect a business.
Since AI is still in its early stages, companies do vary on what responsibilities they associate with the different role titles.
OfferZen Talent Advisors suggest you read through job descriptions closely to make sure the responsibilities match your ideal role.
3. Gain Work Experience
You can apply for internships and junior roles in AI development. Attending AI-related meetups and events will assist with your networking, and these connections can be great to begin in the industry. Otherwise, you can keep an eye on job-listing and search-related platforms.
Why not start a personal AI-focused project? Here are some OfferZen articles that will help you get started:
- Want to Build Your Own Chatbot? Here’s How We Got Started
- How I Created my own AI Bot Game Using Lisp
- How to Develop a Self-Driving Car in Under a Week
- How to Categorise Your Bank Transactions Using AI
- How I Make Time for Project-Based Learning (PBL)
It’s important that you’re particularly interested in the project topic. When speaking about the project in an interview, the interviewer will pick up your passion.
This can set you apart from other candidates. It also shows off your creativity and coding skills as well as your understanding of AI-related fundamentals and tools.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Soft Skills
AI will require extensive research and collaboration as it is still an emerging area. Soft skills will help set you apart from other developers who only have technical skills.
Brushing up on the following skills will assist; teamwork, communication, time management, problem-solving, critical thinking and good business acumen.
Here are some OfferZen articles that may help you ramp up your soft skills:
- Using A “Soft Skills” Mindset In The “Hard Skills” Tech World
- 5 Communication Habits That Keep My Team Aligned
- A 3-Step Process to Communicate More Effectively as a Developer
- Winning at Cross-Discipline and Cross-National Collaboration
- 3 Ways Our Devs and Testers Win at Collaborating
- Lisp’s Superpower: Saving Time Writing Code
What ChatGPT Had to Say
Considering ChatGPT has been a huge step forwards in the AI industry, we asked it “how one could pivot into an AI Developer role.”
Here is what it suggests:
In the next article in this series, we explore how you can utilise AI in your everyday work as a developer, even if the work is not AI-focused.
- Exploring Artificial Intelligence: Understanding the Basics and Its Applications
- How Developers Use AI to Ramp up in Their Role
- Quick Guide: Introducing AI To Your Company
- Ashi Krishnan, Apollo: Robots and Their Future in Our World
- How Tangent Solutions Used RPA and AI to Speed up COVID-19 X-Ray Screening
- Template: Melio’s Machine Learning Ops (MLOps) Skills Matrix
- Programmable Banking Community: How to Build a Low-code Budget Tracking App