How to Become an Artificial Intelligence Architect

By Robert Half December 10, 2019 at 2:00pm

By the end of the 2020s, artificial intelligence (AI) will be a regular part of everyday life. Some of it is already, but by that point we’ll take AI totally for granted, just as we do Wi-Fi and social media today.

Right now, AI can be found in a growing number of places, from fraud prevention systems at major banks to Siri on your smartphone. But businesses still have to tackle some tough challenges, like how to make AI smarter and how to build useful AI-powered applications.

An artificial intelligence architect is someone who finds solutions to these challenges. If you’re a top-notch IT expert with a creative vision and strong leadership skills, this could be the role for you.

What does an AI architect do?

Companies today know that they need to invest in AI to stay competitive. In fact, 60% of business leaders polled in our Jobs and AI Anxiety Report said that their future success depends on the use of AI-related technology.

Lindsay Sherwood, division director for Robert Half Technology in San Francisco, notes that AI architects work closely with their clients to understand their business needs. “They find ways to apply AI technology to existing processes, identify new market opportunities created by AI, and stay ahead of the disruption this technology will initially bring.” 

Sherwood reports that AI architects must possess a deep understanding of these concepts:

  • Machine learning (ML). Currently, ML is one of the most common branches of AI. ML is about creating algorithms that can analyze big data sets and identify trends and patterns. These algorithms “learn” by using past results to improve future performance. Applications of ML already in place include financial institutions’ use of this approach to flag potentially fraudulent transactions.
  • Natural language processing (NLP). NLP is about getting humans and computers to talk to each other. In practice, it’s about turning unstructured data (like text and speech) into structured data (such as relational databases), and vice versa. 
  • AI integration. One of the primary duties of AI architects is integrating AI into the overall IT infrastructure. Here’s an example: An organization wants to provide AI-powered customer service chatbots. The chatbot application will need to be integrated with other systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM), so that it can read and update records.
  • AI application programming. AI architects may sometimes have to help build brand new applications that run on an AI platform. Whether you’re building the apps yourself or managing a team of coders, you’ll need strong programming skills and a thorough understanding of the relevant APIs.
  • Change management. Leadership skills are a must in this management role. Because AI tends to lead to major changes, candidates need to be experienced in managing change projects from end to end. You’ll need to identify stakeholders and secure their buy-in, map processes and mitigate against disruption, oversee training and coaching for impacted staff, and use analytics to track the success of the project.

AI architect job requirements

Artificial intelligence architecture is a cutting-edge, high-pressure field, so potential candidates need to have an outstanding IT resume.

Sherwood says a master’s degree in computer science, data science or AI is usually the minimum. You’ll also need substantial experience working with AI tools in a role such as AI engineer, and employers may look for expertise in big data, data science or analytics.  

Candidates for this managerial role also need to demonstrate strong soft skills, notes Sherwood. Recruiters will home in on candidates who excel in the following areas:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Communication
  • Time management and organization
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Problem solving

Artificial intelligence architect salary

The 2020 Robert Half Technology Salary Guide lists the midpoint starting artificial intelligence architect salary at $143,750. However, that’s a national average — Sherwood reports that salaries can be 41% higher in an IT hub like San Francisco. Use our Salary Calculator to find the average artificial intelligence architect salary in your area.

AI architects are also in high demand to help deliver digital transformation projects on a consultancy basis. Consulting salaries can vary widely depending on the exact projects you work on and the size of the company.

How to build an AI architect resume

If you’re in the early stages of your tech career and want to work in AI, you’ll need to focus on mathematics, statistics, algorithms and working with data. The latter is most important, and you’ll need experience with big data systems like Hadoop and Apache Spark.

You can vastly improve your resume by gaining some experience with AI tools, either professionally or through working with open-source AI research groups. You’ll find hundreds of groups like this on GitHub, or you can participate in the Google-run data community Kaggle.

There’s currently no industry-recognized AI certification that can help you secure an architect position. However, institutions such as MIT offer online courses that you can take to develop your skills, such as their Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy.

When writing a resume, remember why companies are hiring AI architects: They’re ready to make a big investment in technology, but expect to see an even bigger return. They need someone to guide them, and that person must have a potent combination of tech skills and visionary thinking. Your resume should convince employers that you’re the right person to lead them into an AI-powered future.

AI is an emerging technology, which means nobody really knows what’s going to happen next. AI architects help others see through the haze and create a vision of the future by working with leadership to identify opportunities and navigate potential hazards. They also find themselves in the room when crucial decisions are being made, which is why architects must be creative, innovative and have an unmatched understanding of AI.
 

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