6 Industries With Growing Demand for AI Master's Degrees

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Once heralded as the technology of the future, artificial intelligence is now commonplace—but enterprises across industries aren't integrating AI technologies into their operations at the pace you might expect. According to some sources, more than 80 percent of businesses use some form of this technology. Still, others assert that only four out of 10 enterprises regularly use artificial intelligence-powered software or platforms to meet organizational goals. One United States Census Bureau study found that only about nine percent of firms have adopted any form of AI.

That figure may give you pause if you're looking into artificial intelligence degree programs or careers. What you should consider, however, is that intent to adopt is more critical than rates of current adoption. Employer demand for artificial intelligence specialists and AI skills has grown at a staggering rate, suggesting that companies are actively looking to leverage existing AI technologies and develop the cutting-edge artificial intelligence applications of the future. Employers posted hundreds of thousands of positions requiring AI and machine learning skills in the past 12 months, according to market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes millions of job postings in real-time.

Some job listings related to artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, and intelligent systems are posted by big-name tech firms. Amazon, NVIDIA, and Microsoft hire the lion's share of artificial intelligence degree holders, along with companies like IBM, Accenture, and Facebook. Many more, however, are posted by employers in other industries where demand for artificial intelligence expertise is snowballing, but employers encounter skills shortages that leave positions unfilled. One survey found that two out of five companies saw lack of technical knowledge as the biggest impediment to AI adoption.

Opportunities abound for those who acquire artificial intelligence skills and knowledge in a program like the SMU Lyle School of Engineering's Online Master of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization (MSCS-AI). LinkedIn's 2021 Jobs on the Rise report may have categorized AI under "digital transformation" jobs, but artificial intelligence applications transcend the tech and software development spheres. What follows is a look at the industries in which demand for skilled AI specialists and Machine Learning engineers is already booming and will likely continue to grow.

Six Industries with the Highest Demand for Master's-Level AI Skills

1. Healthcare

AI applications in healthcare are numerous because artificial intelligence systems are better at identifying anomalies than human beings. Sometimes called Deep Medicine, deep-learning applications:

  • Detect evidence illnesses like heart disease and cancers on diagnostic scans
  • Find qualifying participants for clinical trials
  • Alleviate privacy concerns in informatics systems
  • Reduce the cost of healthcare by identifying patients who will benefit the most from preventative care
  • Uncover novel uses for existing medicines
  • Develop treatment protocols.

Demand for professionals with bachelor's degrees and graduate degrees in artificial intelligence in this sector is heating up as companies in and out of medicine race to find new ways to use emerging AI systems. The Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have teams working on artificial intelligence algorithms, and major tech companies have developed and are already marketing AI technology specifically for healthcare. Research firm Reports and Data predicts that the global healthcare AI market will be worth more than $60 billion by 2027, and while it's true that automation driven by AI will probably eliminate some healthcare jobs, chances are good AI will create more new jobs in healthcare than it displaces.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Healthcare

  • Atomwise: This company's technology, called AtomNet, uses convolutional neural networks to help researchers develop safer, more effective medications for less money. Atomwise trained AtomNet with vast databases of molecular structures to determine which potential medications will successfully treat specific conditions.
  • CloudMedX Health: This Silicon Valley startup applies predictive analytics, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and deep learning to electronic medical records to optimize patient outcomes while reducing costs.
  • Corti: This company's technology uses computer audition (aka, machine listening) to help emergency medicine providers make better treatment decisions in critical situations. By analyzing their conversations with patients and cross-referencing it against insights gleaned from historical data, Corti's AI can do things like identify heart attacks in progress and catch medical errors.
  • Google Health: In partnership with DeepMind, Google's artificial intelligence program builds products to support medical teams and improve patient outcomes. So far, the tech giant has developed technologies that can predict how patients will respond to treatment, help radiologists and doctors diagnose cancers, and prevent blindness in people with diabetes.
  • IBM Watson Health: IBM’s dedicated health AI branch helps healthcare organizations leverage the power of cognitive computing. Organizations like the Mayo Clinic and Biorasi have partnered with Watson Health to speed up clinical trials, bring drugs to market faster, and make medical treatments less expensive.

2. Retail

People associate AI in retail with enormous online retailers like Amazon and large chains with an established online presence like Target and BestBuy, but artificial intelligence applications will eventually percolate into the brick and mortar sphere. Currently, more than 28 percent of retailers use AI and Machine Learning solutions (primarily online) to drive customer engagement, sales and repeat business. That figure will grow quickly in the coming years. According to research firm Facts & Factors, the global market for artificial intelligence in retail will surpass $20 billion by 2026.

The development of better customer service chatbots and AI-driven digital marketing technologies will drive much of that growth, but some artificial intelligence degree holders in retail will develop tech that enhances the offline shopping experience. AI can power robotic assistants, augmented reality applications, customer-driven inventory management, and hyper-custom real-time marketing, among other applications. As artificial intelligence systems grow more powerful, the retail sector will undoubtedly find additional ways to use them to change the traditional retail experience and the online retail experience for the better.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Retail

  • Capillary Technologies: Products like Engage+, Insights+, and Loyalty+ enhance digital ad campaigns, sales emails, and sales calls and deliver a consistent, omnichannel experience using AI- and Machine Learning-powered customer analytics. More than 400 enterprise retailers have invested in this tech, including companies as diverse as Walmart and Calvin Klein.
  • Signifyd: This hugely well-funded company specializes in machine learning algorithms designed for automation and fraud detection in e-commerce and retail. Their technology uses AI-powered anomaly detection to recognize fraudulent transactions, preventing costly chargebacks without mistakenly declining any orders placed by legitimate customers.
  • Sift: Specializing in digital trust and account verification services, Sift is another retail-focused company that uses artificial intelligence-driven anomaly detection to prevent fraud.
  • Standard Cognition: This company developed an AI-powered computer vision platform that lets customers shop and checkout without going through a checkout process. To showcase their technology, Standard Cognition opened the Standard Store—an innovative 1,100 square foot convenience store in San Francisco fully equipped with the company's grab-and-go, no-cashiers-necessary shopping system.

3. Advertising and Media

Most customers have come to expect a personalized experience when dealing with brands. They want everything from the emails and product recommendations they receive to the website content they see to reflect their interests, values, and past purchases. Companies are scrambling to keep up with these new expectations, and the market for AI in marketing will likely grow to more than $40 billion by 2025 as a result. Companies are using artificial intelligence to identify new customer segments, provide more precise customer personalization, influence customer purchasing decisions, and build brand loyalty.

In Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier, the McKinsey Global Institute urged retailers and service providers to prioritize "advancing their digital journeys" with technologies like AI. Those who hire artificial intelligence degree holders or partner with technology companies specializing in marketing-focused AI software will have a distinct advantage over those who continue powering their marketing efforts with outdated technologies.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Advertising and Media

  • Affectiva: Using computer vision, speech analytics, and deep learning, Affectiva helps brands collect information about how consumers really feel about videos, television shows, and ads. Their technology can recognize human emotions and use them to predict brand awareness, viewership, whether people will share on social media, and sales growth.
  • GumGum: Using a contextual intelligence platform capable of scanning the content on millions of websites with computer vision technology, GumGum places client advertisements where they will be most visible and most effective. According to the company, their tech reduces cost per acquisition substantially.
  • Heuritech: This company's AI- and computer vision-powered trend-prediction platform turns consumer data and influencer activity into answers. By scanning millions of fresh social media images and brand mentions each day, Heuritech can capture evidence of the kind of early adoption that precedes widespread adoption of products and fashions.
  • NetBase: AI Studio is, according to NetBase, the world's first fully automated, next-generation artificial intelligence-driven semantic marketing platform. Because the system is pre-trained on millions of conversations and documents, it can identify themes in conversations, how consumers feel about brands, rising influencers, and more.
  • Quantcast: This company created an AI platform that evaluates data from more than 100 million web and mobile destinations each day. Quantcast helps brands assess existing audiences, identify new ones in real-time, and deliver messaging when and where it will be most effective.

4. Banking and Finance

The banking and financial services industries quickly adopted the AI-powered technologies that make conversational chatbots and automated cybersecurity possible. Companies in these sectors may not hire as many artificial intelligence degree holders as companies in tech, but they hire plenty to automate customer service, sales, marketing, compliance, and even asset management. In fact, 56 percent of firms in banking and finance report implementing AI technology—usually as part of risk management or revenue generation. Additionally, 80 percent are aware that these technologies can make front office and back-office operations more efficient and profitable.

Market Insight Reports predicts the artificial intelligence market in banking and finance will grow to $130 billion by 2027. More companies in these sectors hire artificial intelligence degree holders to integrate AI into customer service, fraud detection, risk management, underwriting, and strategic decision-making.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Banking and Finance

  • Alpaca: The financial system platforms Alpaca has developed include a mid- to long-term market prediction AI, a short-term market prediction AI and a deep learning-driven data analytics solution—all of which require nothing more than a browser to use.
  • Dataminr: With its real-time artificial intelligence-powered event and risk detection system, Dataminr helps banks and financial firms stay on top of news that could impact markets. It uses AI multi-modal fusion to analyze publicly available data from various sources to find business-critical information.
  • DataRobot: This company builds custom AI- and Machine Learning-powered solutions for investing, commercial banking, and lending. Financial firms come to DataRobot for help estimating default probability, fraud loss prevention, client need prediction, cash management, trade execution, and more.
  • Zest AI: The Zest Automated Machine Learning (ZAML) software system helps lenders avoid credit risks, grant approvals more quickly, and maintain higher loan recovery rates. It evaluates borrowers’ credit scores and other financial data faster and with greater accuracy than human underwriters, giving lenders the clearest possible picture of how likely they are to recoup their investment.

5. Automotive and Transportation

People associate AI with self-driving cars (also known as autonomous vehicles), but artificial intelligence is transforming many other areas of transportation, including manufacturing, sales, mobility as a service, and shipping. The applications of artificial intelligence in these sectors are manifold. AI can accelerate manufacturing through automation, optimize the movement of goods to reduce emissions, make shipping more reliable, make driving safer by managing traffic in cities, and even help speed the development of new technologies like drone taxis.

According to market research firm Prescient & Strategic Intelligence, the global market for transportation-focused AI technology will grow to $3.5 billion by 2023. McKinsey & Company predicts that highly autonomous vehicles could make up 10 to 15 percent of new automobile sales by 2030. Between now and then, artificial intelligence may transform the way manufacturers build and sell cars and trucks and how their owners maintain them.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Automotive and Transportation

  • AImotive: This company's hardware-agnostic platform turns traditional vehicles into self-driving vehicles. By creating systems that can integrate depth-sensing machine vision technology and neural networks into older cars and trucks, AImotive will give more people access to autonomous automotive tech.
  • Auro Robotics: The autonomous driving division of Ridecell, Auro Robotics, builds driverless, zero-emission shuttles that help students and workers navigate large campuses. Trials of the company's autonomous mobility platform are underway at multiple universities.
  • Xevo: There are more ways than one to use AI in personal vehicles, according to Xevo. This company created an automotive commerce and services platform and a customizable in-vehicle, "infotainment" platform, which automakers have integrated these technologies into more than 10 million vehicles.

6. Manufacturing

According to Markets and Markets, the global market for AI technologies related to manufacturing will grow to $16.7 billion by 2026. Artificial intelligence systems that leverage real-time information about operational and business systems are already making industrial processes more efficient, productive, and environmentally friendly. The latest applications of Machine Learning in manufacturing include Big Data-driven predictive maintenance and computer vision-driven machinery inspection. Some companies integrate real-time monitoring systems into various production areas to cut down on bottlenecks and waste, improve yields and make plants as safe as possible for human workers.

Top Artificial Intelligence Companies in Manufacturing

  • Automation Anywhere: One of the biggest AI companies in the U.S., Automation Anywhere helps manufacturers use artificial intelligence and robotics to automate repetitive tasks. This company's tech is notable in that it can learn to do various jobs by observing humans in action.
  • Fero Labs: Explainable Machine Learning powers Fero Labs' AI app, which detects hidden factors affecting product quality, predicts flaws in future products, forecasts energy usage to maximize cost savings, and optimizes maintenance schedules to improve efficiency. Manufacturers exert greater control over output using a simple web interface.
  • Invisible AI: Powered by Edge AI-enhanced cameras, Invisible AI's technology provides real-time visibility into manufacturing processes. Computer vision systems analyze captured footage in real time and send updates to floor managers, alerting them of missed steps, inefficiencies, or hazardous conditions.
  • Veo Robotics: This company's AI-based technology uses 3D sensing and computer vision to make human-computer interaction and human-robot collaboration safer so manufacturers can take full advantage of robotic technology.

The Most Common Titles Held by Artificial Intelligence Degree Holders

Because this field is so new and evolving so rapidly, there is very little standardization in artificial intelligence degree holders' job titles. According to LaborInsight's Burning Glass Analysis of SMU MSCS alumni, 88 percent find relevant employment within one year of graduation, but their titles vary quite a bit. Your responsibilities may dictate the titles you hold throughout your career, though it's equally likely they'll be based on trends in the industry or the whims of your employer. Regardless of title, however, early-career artificial intelligence jobs pay well—$115,000 on average—and AI professionals established in their careers earn more than $125,000. The highest earners in the field enjoy salaries above $350,000.

After completing the core and elective MSCS-AI coursework and earning an artificial intelligence degree from SMU Lyle Online's computer science graduate program, you might transition into roles such as:

  • Artificial intelligence application engineer
  • Artificial intelligence architect
  • Artificial intelligence engineer
  • Artificial intelligence expert
  • Artificial intelligence developer
  • Artificial intelligence researcher
  • Artificial intelligence specialist
  • Cognitive science engineer
  • Machine Learning engineer
  • Machine Learning scientist

Some employers post job listings specific to interdisciplinary subfields of artificial intelligence, not limited to:

  • Applied NLP scientist
  • Computation phonologist
  • Computer vision expert
  • Deep learning solutions engineer
  • Multimodal UX engineer
  • Natural language processing (NLP) engineer
  • Neural network engineer

With an MSCS-AI and additional years of experience, you can also move into higher-paying senior roles, including:

  • AI program manager
  • Director of AI engineering
  • Director of AI research
  • Senior AI application engineer
  • Senior AI architect
  • Senior principal artificial intelligence engineer
  • Senior AI researcher

Where Demand in Artificial Intelligence Is Headed

The titles above are emerging, not established, roles in technology because some industries are still unsure what to make of AI. As artificial intelligence's practical applications expand, demand for computer science and AI specialists will grow in more industries. The technology sector is investing heavily in artificial intelligence, and the innovations fueled by those investments will likely disrupt many industries not listed above very soon.

Ultimately, AI's applications will extend into every industry. Taking advantage of this technological sea change is a matter of investing in yourself with an artificial intelligence degree like the Online M.S. in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization. Are you ready to help shape the future of your field? Then apply now. SMU's 10-course MSCS-AI puts the on-campus student experience online in an intensive yet flexible career-focused program that will prepare you to step into one of the many in-demand roles in AI in just 20 months.