Main image of article A.I. Specialist, Robotics Engineer Top Emerging Jobs List

Which technology jobs are poised to go from niche to mainstream over the next few years? That’s a vital question to answer, especially for those technologists who spend lots of time and resources acquiring highly specialized skills in arenas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.).

For the third year in a row, LinkedIn has produced an Emerging Jobs Report (PDF) that tries to guess which jobs will experience “tremendous growth” over the next few years. As you might expect, most of these roles are technology-related; once businesses realize that embracing A.I. or data science can mean the difference between wild success and complete implosion, they rush to employ as many technologists as they can.

LinkedIn’s report concludes that it’s never a bad time to become an engineer or a data scientist: “engineering roles across the board are still seeing tremendous growth. More than 50% of this year’s list was made up of roles related to engineering or development, with the emerging field of robotics appearing for the first time.” Here’s the breakdown of the top positions, along with anticipated growth and the necessary skills for each:

It’s important to highlight how A.I. specialists are poised for rapid expansion over the next few years, in terms of available jobs (it’s no surprise that LinkedIn’s report has them in first place with regard to growth). A.I.-powered tools and applications are increasingly becoming mainstays in many businesses, from banking and healthcare to finance IT and public safety. Some of those apps are consumer-facing; if you’ve ever interacted with a chatbot within a customer-service portal, there’s a good chance it was powered by some kind of machine learning. Others operate in ways the public never sees; for instance, automobile software relies increasingly on computer vision and other A.I. disciplines. 

Thanks to that increasing prevalence, an Analytics Insight report projects more than 20 million available jobs in artificial intelligence by 2023. The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic have only accelerated company investment in everything related to A.I. and machine learning—which means they need technologists who can wrangle the datasets that make these apps smarter. 

“Organizations need to hire individuals who can identify the correct training data and annotate the data accurately,” Gus Walker, director of product at Veritone, an A.I. tech company based in Costa Mesa, California, recently told Dice. “They need talent that can maintain growing training sets and analyze the data to create targeted datasets for customized model generation.”

As LinkedIn’s report indicates, data science is also enjoying some serious growth, as more businesses realize the utility of collecting, cleaning, storing, and, finally, analyzing their data for valuable, potentially game-changing insights. According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, data scientist positions are expected to grow 19 percent over the next 10 years, but landing the best jobs will require learning some highly specialized skills, including data mining, predictive models, and machine learning.

While specialized skills are key, it’s also important to remember “soft skills” such as communication and empathy, which are essential when it comes to working with teammates and discussing strategy with executives and other stakeholders. No matter what profession you choose, and whether or not that profession goes “mainstream” or stays relatively niche, you should aspire to remain well-rounded in your abilities.