What is a Machine Learning Engineer? Responsibilities, Salary, and More

Machine learning technology is at the forefront of many conversations in the tech industry, and it seems to have an exciting future ahead. And the rapid advancement and increased use of machine learning models makes this a great opportunity for tech experts to engage with cutting edge technology while furthering their career.  

This post will dive into one exciting role in particular: machine learning engineers. We’ll take a look at what exactly machine learning technology does and what skills and expertise engineers use to keep it running. Let’s get started! 

What is Machine Learning?

To properly break down the role of a machine learning engineer, we first need to answer the question: what is machine learning? 

Chances are, by now, you’ve heard about artificial intelligence (AI) and its ever-expanding list of uses. Well, machine learning is a subset of AI that empowers computer systems to learn and improve from data without explicitly being programmed. A few popular, everyday examples include: 

Machine learning enables systems to recognize patterns, make predictions, and make data-driven decisions with remarkable accuracy.   

By leveraging advanced algorithms and statistical models, machine learning enables us to unlock valuable business insights, automate tasks, and enhance decision-making, across a wide range of industries. From voice assistants and recommendation systems to fraud detection and automated vehicles, machine learning is at the forefront of transformative technological advancements. 

Related: Can ChatGPT Write a Good Job Description? 

So Where do the Engineers Come In?  

Machine learning engineers play a crucial role in building and deploying machine learning systems.  Essentially, machine learning engineers build, maintain, and improve the systems and structures used to power machine learning. They’re the ones ensuring that any machine learning based technology remains accurate and effective.  

Beyond creating data structures or coding, one of their major focuses is training and fine-tuning machine learning models. It’s the responsibility of the engineer to ensure these systems are scalable, high-performing, and accurate. Whenever you have a positive experience with machine learning—whether it’s a successful, automated task or an AI-generated email—there was a machine learning engineer behind it. 

Responsibilities of a Machine Learning Engineer 

As we mentioned, machine learning engineers are responsible for creating and maintaining the systems, structures, or algorithms that enable machine learning models to perform accurately and optimally. To do this, they typically spend their working hours: 

  • Developing and implementing machine learning models and algorithms 
  • Collecting, preprocessing, and analyzing large datasets to identify patterns and insights 
  • Selecting and evaluating appropriate machine learning techniques and algorithms for specific tasks 
  • Training, optimizing, and fine-tuning machine learning models 
  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance of deployed models 
  • Collaborating with data engineers to design and implement data pipelines 
  • Staying up to date with the latest advancements of machine learning and related fields 
  • Ensuring compliance with data privacy and security regulations  
  • Conducting experiments and A/B testing to validate the effectiveness of machine learning models and algorithms 

Must-Have Qualifications for a Machine Learning Engineer  

In the field of machine learning, engineers will need to possess a combination of hard and soft skills, certain certifications, and will likely need to meet educational requirements. Let’s break it down a little more. 

Machine Learning Engineer Skills

Because machine learning is predominantly tech-based, machine learning engineers lean heavily on their hard or technical skills. However, there are a few soft skills (included in the list below) that can benefit their professional growth: 

Education and Certification Requirements 

To pursue a career in machine learning, most people will need a bachelor’s degree or higher in (or related to): 

  • Computer science 
  • Data science 
  • Mathematics 
  • Computer programming 

Certifications are not always a hiring requirement. However, they can be immensely helpful if a candidate wishes to stand out from the competition or simply advance their career.  

Related: 14 of the Best Cloud Certifications for 2024

Salary and Job Outlook  

The average yearly compensation for a machine learning engineer is $133,111, with an average of $109,206 base pay and $23,906 additional pay annually. 

And with machine learning and AI only increasing in application, this is an excellent spot to be in professionally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field of Computer and Information Research to grow by 21% through 2031—must faster than the average rate.  

12 Interview Questions for a Machine Learning Engineer

Here are 12 interview questions to gauge experience and comprehension of machine learning: 

  • Describe your experience with machine learning algorithms. 
  • If you were given a dataset of images, what kind of machine learning algorithm would you use to identify objects in those images? 
  • What is a recent project you have worked on that involved machine learning? 
  • What books or articles have you read on machine learning? 
  • How would you go about debugging a machine learning algorithm? 
  • What are some of the challenges you see in machine learning? 
  • What is your experience with big data? 
  • What is the biggest problem you have faced while working with machine learning algorithms? 
  • What was the most complex machine learning problem you solved? Please walk me through the process and how you found a solution. 
  • Do you have experience with Deep Learning Models? 
  • Are you familiar with any specific tools or libraries for machine learning? 
  • Do you have experience with natural language processing (NLP)? 

The Future of Machine Learning 

The world of machine learning is an exciting space to be in—especially for those who are passionate about streamlining processes and employing mathematics to solve problems.  

If you’re looking for talented and solution-oriented machine learning engineers to join your team—give Insight Global a call. As the second largest IT staffing firm, we know how to find talent in the tech industry. 

Fill out the form to get started! 

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