Machine Learning Scientist Salary and Job Description

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, has evolved from a futuristic concept into an everyday tool used throughout different disciplines. This evolution is particularly evident in business, where the integration of AI tech is poised to play an increasingly important role. According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, roughly 70% of companies will have adopted at least one type of AI technology into their operational strategy by 2030.

AI can impact many aspects of business, from chatbots using algorithms to respond to customer requests to data-gathering tech equipment that provides analytical info on safer work environments.

This projected growth provides the potential for a considerable increase in jobs pertaining to AI and machine learning in the business landscape. Opportunities will be in a variety of sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, financial service, retail, logistics, and energy. Those interested in a career that incorporates artificial intelligence should look into the key role that machine learning scientists play.

A machine learning scientist designs an algorithm using a desktop computer.

What Do Machine Learning Scientists Do?

Machine learning scientists typically focus on designing and implementing adaptive algorithms that drive AI systems, working in collaboration with data scientists, data engineers, and algorithm specialists. They develop autonomous AI software and conduct tests to ensure that software generates accurate predictions. They also perform statistical analysis to ensure algorithms can successfully analyze large chunks of historical data.

The work of machine learning scientists provides the data-driven rules that enable an AI system to function. Their work has to be precise, as even the smallest hiccup in an algorithm’s functionality can disrupt an AI system. When done successfully, their work can help a business predict evolving customer preferences, anticipate healthcare needs, or streamline HR services.

Work Environments for Machine Learning Scientists

Because various types of businesses employ AI, machine learning scientists work full time in several industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places machine learning scientists in the category of computer and information research scientists. It reports that the largest employers in this broader field are the federal government and computer systems design and related services, which employed 28% and 19% of these scientists in 2020, respectively.

Qualifications to Become a Machine Learning Scientist

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a machine learning scientist should start out by earning a bachelor’s degree, usually in a discipline such as data science, computer science, or math. A bachelor’s in physics or statistics can also meet this requirement.

A bachelor’s enables students to apply for entry-level roles in computer science, which offer the opportunity to gain key experience in real-world settings. Advanced positions such as machine learning scientist often require a master’s degree in computer science or a similar area of study.

Earning professional certification, although not required, can further demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and skills in the field. Programs such as IBM’s Machine Learning with Python or Amazon’s AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty certification can help individuals stand out from the competition in the eyes of potential employers. Individuals can also earn machine learning-focused certificates from select universities.

Fundamental Skills for Machine Learning Scientists

Certain core competencies are crucial for a career in machine learning. Strong analytical skills enable professionals to design and implement algorithms that produce useful results. Attention to detail is essential in detecting design deficiencies, and well-developed problem-solving skills help scientists find solutions to these issues. Additionally, machine learning scientists must have strong communication skills to be able to explain their work to others clearly and without ambiguity.

The first step to developing these skills is to earn a bachelor’s degree. A program such as Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in data science helps students build these core competencies by covering key concepts such as coding languages, statistics, predictive modeling, and big data analysis.

Machine Learning Scientist Salary and Job Outlook

Several factors determine salary, such as education level, years of experience, and job location. The BLS reports that the 2020 median annual salary for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250. Salaries for careers that require more experience and education may be higher; for instance computer and information research scientists had a median salary of $126,830.

The field shows promising growth, with the BLS projecting computer and information research scientist positions to increase by 22% between 2020 and 2030. This projection represents significantly faster growth than the 8% growth projected for the labor market as a whole.

Your Path Toward a Career as a Machine Learning Scientist Starts at Maryville

AI is no longer science fiction, and it’s become an increasingly important component of modern business. Professionals with the right knowledge and skills can help integrate innovative processes and drive their evolution in meaningful ways.

Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Data Science can be the key first step toward a satisfying career as a machine learning scientist. Our program is designed to help you develop expertise in concepts such as big data, predictive modeling, and machine learning. Discover how Maryville can help prepare you for a career at the forefront of data.

Recommended Reading

Building Skills for the Future of Machine Learning

Why Are Data Scientists in High Demand?

Women in Statistics and Data Science


Amazon Web Services, AWS Certified Machine Learning — Specialty

Coursera, Machine Learning with Python, Offered by IBM

McKinsey & Company, “Notes From the AI Frontier: Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy”

Medium, “What Is the Difference Between a Machine Learning Engineer vs. Machine Learning Scientist?”

Tech Target, “9 Top Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Business”

Towards Data Science, “Data Scientist vs Machine Learning Scientist: Here’s the Difference”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer, and Information Research Scientists