Main image of article AI Specialization Can Yield a Huge Pay Premium

Mastering artificial intelligence (AI) skills can translate into a healthy pay premium, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC analyzed more than half a billion job ads from 15 countries to determine how AI is impacting the current global workforce. One big takeaway, according to the report: “Today, there are seven times as many postings for specialist AI jobs as there were in 2012. In contrast, postings for all jobs have grown more slowly, doubling since 2012.” But it’s not just about “specialist AI jobs,” as workers of all skills and roles are increasingly baking AI tools such as ChatGPT into their current workflows.

“Many, if not most, workers who use AI tools in their work do not have or need these specialist skills,” the report added. “For example, a limited number of workers with specialist AI skills may design an AI system or tool for a company that is then used by hundreds or thousands of the company’s customer service agents, analysts, or lawyers—none of whom have specialist AI skills. In fact, one thing that makes a well-known form of AI—generative AI—such a powerful technology is that typically it can be operated using simple everyday language with no technical skills required.

Those who choose to specialize in AI can enjoy wage premiums of up to 25 percent on average. For some tech professions, the premium is a bit higher. For example, in the U.S., job vacancies for database designers and administrators that involve an AI specialization can command wage premiums of 53 percent over similar roles without the need for AI skills. For applications programmers, the premium is 32 percent; for systems analysts, it’s 30 percent.

This salary bump isn’t a new development: late last year, a study by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Access Partnership found that employers “are willing to pay an average of 47 percent more for IT workers with A.I. skills.” Employees specializing in everything from finance and business operations to sales and marketing saw similar boosts. (The study surveyed 3,297 employees and 1,340 organizations in the U.S.)

For those interested in a career in AI, there are multiple routes to mastery. For example, getting hands-on with A.I. tools and frameworks can help you quickly build your knowledge. Earning AI-related certifications can likewise expand your opportunities. Whatever route you choose, AI is here to stay—the faster you learn its basic principles, the better your chances of succeeding in this new environment.