How to Become a Machine Learning Scientist

By CSU Global - January 5th, 2022

Woman Learning About Machine Learning

Recently, we wrote about how to launch a career in machine learning, covering important topics like how machine learning works, what makes machine learning so important, and what you can do with a master’s degree in the field.

Here, we’ll explain how to become a machine learning scientist, which is one of the best jobs in the entire industry. 

This post will detail why you should think about getting into the field, what skills you’ll need to develop to become a machine learning scientist, and what academic programs and certifications you should consider completing to improve your chances of launching a successful career in this competitive industry.

After you’ve learned everything you need to know about becoming a machine learning scientist, fill out our information request form to receive additional details about our 100% online Master’s Degree in AI and Machine Learning, which was designed to provide you with all of the skills and abilities you need to succeed in this challenging role.

If you’re ready to get started, submit your application today.

What’s the Difference Between a Machine Learning Engineer and a Machine Learning Scientist?

Before we drill into details about machine learning scientists, let’s first explain the difference between machine learning engineers and machine learning scientists.

Machine learning engineers are typically responsible for developing technological solutions and algorithms that allow machines to perform complex tasks without specific instructions.

As an example, they may be tasked with creating the programs that allow a self-driving car to steer itself through an environment in real-time, without assistance.

In this way, machine learning engineers deliver programs, systems, or applications that perform complex tasks without the help of human assistance.

Machine learning scientists do something else entirely, which is to develop the complex, sophisticated algorithms used to power machine learning programs or systems. 

In this way, machine learning scientists are responsible for creating the technology used by machine learning engineers, so you can think of them as developing the building blocks machine learning engineers use to create their programs and systems.

The role of a machine learning scientist is to perform complex research and development to create new approaches, new tools, and new algorithms used by machine learning engineers.

While machine learning scientists are tasked with exploring machine learning capabilities, machine learning engineers are responsible for applying those capabilities to deliver a machine learning-driven solution.

In this way, the two roles work collaboratively to advance machine learning technology, with each playing an important role in the process of delivering new, high-technology machine learning solutions to the marketplace.

If you’re interested in learning more about machine learning engineers, including how to get into the field, then be sure to check out our recent post on how to become a machine learning engineer.

Is the Role of Machine Learning Scientist Really a Good Career Option?

Yes, becoming a machine learning scientist is an excellent career option, as this is a great field for anyone looking to launch an exciting, lucrative, and lifelong career doing interesting and important work.

There are three compelling reasons to think about becoming a machine learning scientist, including:

  1. Demand appears to be growing quickly for professional machine learning scientists. While the BLS doesn’t offer insight on the specific job title of “machine learning scientist”, they do indicate that employment of “computer and information research scientists” (a related job title) is set to grow by 22% between 2020 and 2030.
  2. Machine learning scientists play an essential role in promoting machine learning technologies and pushing the boundaries of computers and computer-driven technologies, as they’re primarily responsible for finding new applications and methodologies for machine learning principles. They’re the people behind the algorithms used by machine learning engineers, so you can think of them as a driving force behind the work done in this industry.
  3. This is a well-paid role, with reporting that machine learning scientists earn an average median annual salary of $140,056. Their report indicates that entry-level positions in the field start at $119,692, while the most experienced workers make up to $176,398 per year.

Considering the high compensation rates and rising demand for machine learning scientists, it’s an excellent time to develop the skills and abilities that will allow you to break into the industry and develop a successful career in this interesting space.

What Do Machine Learning Scientists Actually Do?

You can think of machine learning scientists as being the professionals behind machine learning technology since they’re responsible for developing the algorithms used in machine learning applications and processes.

According to Towards Data Science, machine learning scientists may be responsible for any of the following tasks:

  • Research algorithms, in general, to help advance the mathematics behind machine learning technology.
  • Research, design, and develop new machine learning algorithms and innovative, scalable machine learning solutions.
  • Design and implement machine learning information extraction, probabilistic matching algorithms, and models.
  • Work closely with machine learning engineers, data scientists, and data engineers to develop new software engineering solutions used to implement machine learning models, applications, and processes.

The role of machine learning scientist is a research-heavy position as it requires considering and then developing entirely new solutions for machine learning technology.

In this way, machine learning scientists do more than simply apply machine learning principles and best practices, they have to invent new solutions and capabilities for machine learning technology.

This is one of the most complex, challenging, and difficult careers in high technology, as machine learning scientists are the very tip of the spear when it comes to developing new AI and machine learning solutions.

Fortunately, it’s also an incredibly interesting and important career and a field that you should seriously consider getting into if you’re interested in technology.

What Skills & Abilities are Needed to Become a Successful Machine Learning Scientist?

Because the role of machine learning scientist requires such an advanced understanding of mathematics, probabilities, and technology, you’ll need to develop an incredibly sophisticated set of skills to be considered for a role in the field.

Towards Data Science suggests that anyone looking to get a job as a machine learning scientist should focus on developing the following skills:

  • Research
  • Signals and distributed systems
  • OpenCV
  • C++ or C
  • Quality Assurance
  • Automation
  • Model Deployment
  • Unix
  • Artificial Intelligence

They also note that the skills required to become a machine learning scientist tend to include a focus on software engineering, automation, and deployment, and that job descriptions for this role often include specialization requirements like physics or robotics.

This is an extremely advanced, specialized role in a complex industry, and thus a job title that you may not be able to land immediately after graduation from college, or even a master’s degree program.

In fact, Towards Data Science states that machine learning scientists tend to be extremely well-educated, with many of them being Ph.D. degree holders who have extensive backgrounds in machine learning, computer science, robotics, physics, and mathematics.

Do I Really Need a Degree to Get a Job as a Machine Learning Scientist?

Yes, you will almost certainly need a degree to get a job as a machine learning scientist. It’s likely that you’ll need multiple degrees to be considered for this complex, challenging, and competitive role.

Why? Because this is a difficult job that requires a great deal of technical expertise, and it’s not a position where you should expect to receive a great deal of on-the-job training.

To get hired as a machine learning scientist, you will likely need a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in a related field, like:

  • Machine learning
  • Computer science
  • Robotics
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Data science

You may also need industry experience in a less advanced, theoretical, and research-oriented role before anyone gives you a shot at the job of a machine learning scientist.

To build up your credibility and make sure that your resume stands out, you should consider getting hired as a machine learning engineer first and developing your experience in that role before applying for jobs as a machine learning scientist.

How Can CSU Global’s Master’s Program Help Me Prepare for a Career as a Machine Learning Scientist?

Our online Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning was designed to provide you with the foundational knowledge, skills, and abilities you’ll need to thrive in an advanced, cutting-edge, high-technology job.

This program will expose you to the latest deep-learning libraries, like Tensorflow, develop your proficiency in Python, and train you to apply these technologies across a variety of important business problems in critical industries, like:

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil/Gas
  • Automotive

To help you prepare for taking on advanced machine learning assignments, our program will focus on developing your abilities to:

  • Analyze systems to effectively monitor and control development projects.
  • Apply AI and machine learning principles, as well as logic, probability analysis, and related concepts to problem-solving initiatives.
  • Develop advanced technological solutions that are capable of modeling human behavior.
  • Establish and achieve objectives using techniques associated with artificial intelligence reasoning and uncertainty
  • Implement solutions that combine AI and machine learning principles.
  • Use best practices with applications in speech recognition, data processing, data mining, and robotic control.

You’ll graduate from our Machine Learning Master’s Degree program knowing how to solve complex business problems with innovative technical solutions, ensuring you’re ready to provide value to any high technology organization from day one.

Keep in mind, however, that our program does have several important prerequisites, including completion of at least one advanced course in discrete mathematics, and one advanced course in probability and statistics. 

If you’re serious about becoming a machine learning scientist, then you should certainly consider completing a degree focused on machine learning, as this is the best way to set yourself up for a successful lifelong career in the field.

What Else Can I Do to Increase My Odds of Success?

Because this is such a competitive industry, just earning a degree in machine learning may not be enough to qualify you for the role of machine learning scientist.

Instead, you might want to consider that getting your bachelor’s and master’s degrees are just the first steps in a much longer process that includes additional training and certifications.

By pursuing additional academic credentials, you can advance your knowledge, skills, and especially your marketability for related roles.

You should be able to increase your chances of becoming a machine learning scientist by completing related machine learning certification programs, like:

  • Springboard’s Machine Learning Bootcamp
  • Amazon’s AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty
  • Google’s Professional Machine Learning Engineer Certification
  • Microsoft’s Azure AI Engineer Certification
  • IBM’s Machine Learning Professional Certificate

While it may require quite a bit of additional time to complete any of these certification programs, you may find that there’s a significant benefit to listing one or more of these credentials on your resume.

Should I Get My Degree in Machine Learning Online?

Yes, whatever academic programs you choose to complete, we suggest pursuing them online, because online programs tend to offer much more freedom than in-person learning.

If you’ve already got a busy schedule, and you’re concerned about finding time to study, then you should consider studying machine learning with us at CSU Global!

Our entirely online M.S. in AI and Machine Learning program offers several excellent benefits that make it a great option for busy, adult learners, including:

  • No requirements to show up at set times or in physical locations.
  • Monthly class starts.
  • Accelerated courses.

If you have other responsibilities, like work duties or family duties that you’ll need to continue completing while pursuing your higher education credentials, then our 100% online program may be the perfect solution.

Why Should I Choose to Study AI & Machine Learning at CSU Global?

Our online M.S. Degree in AI & Machine Learning was designed to give you everything you need to launch a successful career in this competitive, challenging, and exciting industry so that you can become a machine learning scientist.

This program is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which ensures that your degree will earn the respect of hiring managers looking for machine learning professionals.

Our program is also widely regarded as being one of the best in the industry, having recently won several top rankings, including:

CSU Global itself is also widely regarded to be an industry leader in higher education, as our school recently won several excellent rankings, including:

  • A Top 20 ranking for Best Online University Programs Based on Their ROI from Forbes.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges & Schools in Colorado from Best Accredited Colleges.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges in Colorado from Best Colleges.

Finally, we offer all students an affordable tuition rate, and a Tuition Guarantee to ensure that your low rate won’t ever increase from enrollment through graduation.

For additional details about our fully-accredited online Master’s Degree in AI and Machine Learning, please give us a call at (800) 462-7845, or fill out our Information Request Form.

Ready to get started today? Apply now!

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