Artificial Intelligence Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Take as many computer-related classes as possible in high school. Recommended courses include computer science, programming, software development, computer security, and data analytics/science. Mathematics classes are also important. Take algebra, trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, statistics, and applied mathematics courses. Other useful classes include physics, engineering, foreign languages (especially if you plan to work in the field of natural language processing), business, and shop (if you plan to work in robotics).

Postsecondary Education

Artificial intelligence specialists have a variety of educational backgrounds, but most have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in software design, computer programming, computer science, statistics, software engineering, data science, mathematics, or a related field. Many students combine study in one of the aforementioned fields with a minor, specialization, or certificate in AI, machine learning, machine intelligence, robotics and artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction design, human-computer interaction, or cognitive science. Some companies require applicants to have master’s and even PhDs in one of these fields. Companies are also hiring job applicants with doctoral degrees in epidemiology, physics, plant science, and materials science, among other majors, because they can utilize their knowledge to more effectively develop AI-enabled products. A person with such an educational background would need to augment their subject area expertise by taking AI-related classes or earning a certificate in artificial intelligence or a related area. 

A few colleges and universities have launched degree programs in artificial intelligence. In 2018, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became the first U.S. school to offer an undergraduate degree in AI. Students in the program must complete classes in computer science, math and statistics, science and engineering, ethics, humanities and the arts, and AI electives (in decision making and robotics, machine learning, perception and language, and human and AI interaction clusters), as well as the following core courses in AI:

  • Concepts in Artificial Intelligence
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Representation and Problem Solving
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Introduction to Natural Language Processing OR Introduction to Computer Vision

Other U.S. schools that offer AI-related degrees include Indiana University at Bloomington (bachelor of science in intelligent systems engineering) and Northeastern University (master of professional studies in enterprise intelligence). The University of Limerick in Ireland offers a master of artificial intelligence, and the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom offers a bachelor of science in AI.


A growing number of colleges and universities offer certificate programs in AI, machine learning, human-computer interaction, cognitive science, machine intelligence, robotics and AI, and human-computer interaction design. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.

Other Education or Training

This field is constantly changing, so you will need to keep your skills up to date by taking continuing education classes and webinars throughout your career. These learning opportunities are offered by professional associations such as the Association for Advancing Automation (AAA), Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, and the International Society of Automation, as well as online learning platforms such as Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy. For example, the AAAI offers a Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence at its Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The AAA offers webinars such as The Intersection of AI, Collaborative Robots and Machine Vision; Deep Learning and 3D Vision in Identification; and Are We There Yet? The Collaboration Between Robots and Vision.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The Artificial Intelligence Board of America offers the artificial intelligence engineer credential to applicants who meet educational and work experience requirements and pass an examination. Visit https://www.artiba.org/certification/artificial-intelligence-certification for more information.

Software development firms also provide certification programs. For example, SAS offers the AI and machine learning professional credential to applicants who complete five courses and pass several examinations.

Since the collection and analysis of large amounts of data plays a major role in their work, many AI specialists earn data-focused certifications. Certification credentials are offered by the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (certified Big Data professional, business data management professional, and certified data scientist), DAMA International (certified data management professional), INFORMS (associate certified analytics professional, certified analytics professional), and TDWI (certified business intelligence professional). Contact these organizations for more information.  

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Higher-level AI professionals need a minimum of several years of experience using AI in applied research settings. Entry-level workers must have completed an internship, fellowship, or cooperative education opportunity in artificial intelligence, ideally at a large employer that frequently uses AI in its operations.

Artificial intelligence specialists need a variety of technical skills to be successful on the job. Although skill requirements vary by position and employer, here are some in-demand technical skills:

  • Experience with research and development protocols
  • Knowledge of programming and software design fundamentals
  • Knowledge of basic algorithms and object-oriented and functional design principles
  • Experience with a Python programming environment and related technologies
  • Experience in probability and statistics modeling procedures
  • Experience with data mining, analytics, and modeling
  • The ability to perform graphics processing unit programming

Review job advertisements to learn about specific software and other technical requirements to learn what’s required for your target career or industry.

Artificial intelligence specialists also need a variety of soft skills, including top-notch interpersonal and communication, problem-solving, organizational, time-management, and leadership skills; a detail oriented personality; the ability to think critically; a passion for working in AI; and a willingness to continue to learn throughout their careers.