Career in Machine Learning: Popularity, Why Should You Pursue, Required Skills

It is expected that AI will create a business value of around $4 billion by the end of 2022. Over one-third of companies in India have either already started spending on data science and machine learning or are planning to do it in the coming time.

If we specifically talk about job prospects for machine learning engineers, there was an increase in more than 330% in job postings for this position worldwide in the period spanning 2015-2018. The average base salary of a machine learning engineer in India is around Rs 700000 per annum, more than almost every other job role. No wonder jobs in AI and machine learning are considered “the hottest jobs of the century.” Let us take a deeper plunge then and learn more about what you can expect from a career in machine learning. 

Career options in Machine Learning

  • Machine learning engineer: A machine learning engineer is a professional that trains machines to make future predictions. Knowledge of Java, Python, Scala, data modelling, programming, probability, machine learning algorithms, statistics, and system design is very important to become a machine learning engineer. 
  • BI developer: The role of a BI developer is to use ML and data analytics techniques to work on large amounts of data and make it useful for the decision makers of a business. A BI developer needs to be proficient in Power BI, Perl, SQL, Python, SQL, and databases.
  • Data scientist: The role of a data scientist is somewhat similar to that of a BI developer. A data scientist also has to work on large sets of data to help a business’s decision makers make better decisions backed by data. A data scientist needs to be proficient in predictive modelling, machine learning, statistical research, big data, data mining, and programming languages
  • Human-centred machine learning designer: This professional works on machine learning algorithms that are designed for humans and their choices. So if you use Netflix and other such services, you would know how it suggests you different movies and series based on what you have watched before. So a human-centred machine learning designer uses pattern recognition and information processing techniques to develop systems that can help in creating smarter experiences based on human preferences in different situations. 
  • Natural language processing or NLP scientist: An NLP scientist develops or trains machines in a way that they learn to understand different languages that human beings use. In other words, you can say that NLP scientist trains machines to interact with humans. So an NLP scientist needs to know how machine learning works. Also, this professional should be very good in at least one language that humans speak. 

Why are Machine Learning Roles so popular?

There has been a figurative explosion in the usage of machine learning. You will see smart learning algorithms just about everywhere – from marketing campaigns and emails to mobile applications and more. This indicates that a career in machine learning is, at the moment, one of the most in-demand careers across the world. So if working with smart machines interests you, then this is the perfect career option for you. You should start acquiring skills to make the most of the machine learning career opportunities on offer.

But have you ever thought that why has machine learning become such a popular skill in such a short span of time? It is because most of the companies in India and throughout the world are incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into their existing systems to make them smarter and more efficient.

So as there is a race amongst companies to adopt machine learning, in order to grow faster, the need to hire more people skilled in machine learning has also gone up a few notches. Companies are willingly spending large sums of money in this ML adoption that includes the hiring of experts because they know what’s at stake here and how this investment can bring huge returns. Machine learning experts can make this is a seamless transition and ensure more result-oriented business decision making going into the future. 

In an article published in Forbes, it was mentioned that patents in machine learning increased at a rate of 34% CAGR between 2013 and 2017. And do you companies which companies do most of these patents belong to? The likes of Facebook, Intel, IBM, LinkedIn, and Microsoft are at the top in this running. These companies have realized that machine learning and AI are the technologies of the future that will help them do well in the future.

Other companies have followed suit. We have more companies that use machine learning applications now, which is one of the biggest reasons behind its popularity as well as the high demand for jobs in this field. The right time to pursue a career in machine learning is now. If you are looking for more reasons, read on!

Why should you pursue a career in machine learning? 

Machine learning and AI is the ammunition that powers machine and bots. Machine learning gives businesses the ability to build programs that can modify and update machines and make them seamlessly adapt to different environments – for getting things done right and faster.

Businesses need machine learning professionals who can power them into the lead, beyond all their competitors, when it comes to ML adoption. Here are a few more reasons to help you make a decision in favor of pursuing a career in machine learning:

1. The future is artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our discussion, until now, has quite unequivocally suggested that ML is the skill of the future and that your job prospects with this skill are never going to die down, not at least in the next decade or two. And we have also shared stats that clearly say that there is a dearth of skilled ML professionals to fill thousands of open ML position. So what you need to do right now is gain expertise in the field. Once you do that, you can begin a career that is both high paying and secure. 

2. The field is ideal for people who are interested in working on real challenges. Businesses, in the modern era, face a lot of challenges that machine learning can help them overcome. So after acquiring the required skills, if you choose to become an ML engineer, one of the many career options available at your disposal, you will be working on real challenges with significant consequences. You will build solutions that affect both individuals and businesses on some level. If you are looking for a job that gives you high satisfaction, not too many other jobs can beat an ML job in that respect. 

3. Exponential career growth. Everything said we should accept that machine learning is still in its early stage of adoption. However, the future seems very bright. So people who are willing to enter this field would have no qualms about making this decision later in their lives. The average salary in machine learning makes it a lucrative career option for everyone out there.

Since there is still a long way for this industry to reach its peak, the salary that you make as an ML professional will continue growing with every year. All you need to do is keep upskilling and updating yourself. As ML advances and matures, you will have the opportunity to experience exponential growth in your career and land a dream job with your ideal company.

4. Option to move to data science. Professionals skilled in machine learning have so many avenues open to them when it comes to their respective careers. With the right set of skills, you can even don the hat of a data scientist, which is again a very lucrative career opportunity. You can gain skills that make you a relevant resource for both these positions. Once you do so, you will be a part of a journey that is exciting, rewarding, and filled with knowledge, challenges, and opportunities. 

Machine Learning Skills

Now that you know why you should choose a career in machine learning and have perhaps made a decision as well, let us tell you a few important skills that you need to have to make the most of this opportunity.

  • Statistics and probability: Your understanding of algorithms has a lot to do with your knowledge of theories. Hidden Markov models, Naïve Bayes, and Gaussian Mixture, amongst other models, are great examples. If you aren’t good at statistics and probability, you will find these algorithms very difficult to understand. 
  • Data evaluation and modeling: An important part of ensuring the efficiency of the estimation process with ML is to evaluate the effectiveness of different models at regular intervals. You can use different methods, such as regression and classification, to measure the error or accuracy of a given model. You also need an evaluation strategy to go with it. 
  • ML algorithms: Knowing how different machine learning algorithms work and which algorithm fits in a particular situation is very important. You would need to develop an understanding of subjects like partial differential equations, gradient descent, quadratic programming, convex optimization, and others. 
  • Programming languages: For a career in machine learning, you also need to be skilled in different programming languages, such as Java, R, Python, and C++. These languages will help you at different stages of your machine learning project. 
  • Signal processing techniques: Feature extraction is very important to machine learning. You may have to work with several advanced signal processing algorithms, including bandlets, shearlets, contourlets, and curvelets, amongst others. Learn more about machine learning required skillsets.

Also Read: Machine Learning Project Ideas


A career in machine learning helps you run alongside the digital revolution that we all know is currently happening in almost every sector. Professionals skilled in machine learning have several avenues open to them, from which they can choose the one that interests them the most and pays them according to their skills.

If you’re interested to learn more about machine learning, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Machine Learning & AI which is designed for working professionals and offers 450+ hours of rigorous training, 30+ case studies & assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, 5+ practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.

Is it easy to learn machine learning?

Every field requires certain skills for you to perform well. Machine learning also requires certain skills. If you are truly interested in the subject, it won’t be very hard for you. A little programming experience, logical abilities and a thirst to learn will help you do well. However, if you find mathematical concepts and programming hard, machine learning won’t be that easy for you.

How much time does it take to learn machine learning well?

Machine learning is a rapidly expanding field. More and more people are pursuing career chances in this field. However, prior understanding of several programming languages is required to master machine learning effectively enough to secure a job. You will be able to study machine learning in 6 months if this is the case. If you're beginning from scratch, though, it may take up to 18 months to master machine learning.

Is machine learning a stress free job?

Machine learning is a great career option. According to a study conducted by Indeed, a machine learning engineer is the top career in terms of income, job growth, and overall demand. Machine learning is a rapidly growing area, but it is not always a stress-free environment to work in. Actually, your field of interest is important. You will not become bored with ML if you are truly interested in it and it is what thrills you. However, if you are only doing it because it pays well, you may find it tedious and hence become agitated.

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