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Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

Aspiring to Study Artificial Intelligence?

Aspiring to Study Artificial Intelligence?

Here's What You Need to Know About Its Viability and the Job Market
Computer Science has been universally and particularly in the Arab world, a popular major attracting many university students. However, the booming demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) related jobs has prompted an increasing number of colleges and universities to offer dedicated four-year AI programs.

These programs typically go beyond the basics of computer science to cover topics such as machine learning, computational algorithms, data analytics, and advanced robotics.

The introduction of specialized AI degree programs comes as companies are in dire need of exceptional talent in this rapidly evolving field. AI skills are among the highest-paid in technology today, according to employment website Indeed.

Despite this, there are doubts about the practicality of a four-year degree in AI due to the fast-paced changes in technology. However, proponents argue that as long as the program delves deeply into computer science and other fundamentals, a focus on AI can provide an edge in building and supporting a strong resume, according to American economic network CNBC.

CNBC has highlighted key considerations for students, their parents, and anyone contemplating a return to studying AI for a new career.

A Strong Foundation in Technology and Mathematics is Crucial

According to Kerem Koca, CEO of BlueCloud, a cloud service provider, students aiming for a university degree in AI should seek programs that teach basic information such as concepts in computer science, statistics, mathematics, and engineering. These foundations lay the groundwork for working in the AI field.

Koca explains that while technology itself changes, these core foundations remain constant and can prepare students to succeed even as the underlying technology evolves.

Additionally, Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, believes it's crucial that AI certificates do not just cultivate specific skills but also focus on helping students learn how to learn, as well as develop intellectual curiosity and skills like leadership, communication, and critical thinking.

A Thriving Field Since 2011

Various undergraduate and graduate programs concentrate on AI, and there has been an increase in scientific degrees awarded over more than a decade. According to the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University, AI degrees have bucked the general trend in education since 2011, showing positive growth against a backdrop of negative growth in other academic fields.

The center described the growth in AI degree grants as "exciting," with an increase of 120 percent since 2011 at the bachelor's and master's levels.

The Importance of Education in a Rapidly Changing Market

Some students may wonder if they even need a degree in AI given the swift changes in the market, and the fact that more employers are willing to hire workers without university degrees if they have the requisite job skills.

It is important to note that research indicates that hiring individuals without university degrees has not been enough. Research on the career site Ladders shows that having a degree is still required for the "highest paid jobs," including software engineering roles.

Celeste Groupman, CEO of Dataquest, which provides educational materials and labs related to AI to universities, says that having a four-year degree is still a significant step for most entering the job market for the first time.

Groupman adds, "It's still one of the first things an employer will look at. Not only does it make you completely qualified, but not having it could lead to your exclusion."

Artificial Intelligence vs. Computer Science

It's important for students to critically think about the curriculum of the program they're interested in and how it differs from the standard computer science curriculum, the potential career path for graduates, and the economic outcomes of the graduates. Flynn says, "Students should inquire about the aspects of AI they will learn."

Students should also carefully consider what they want. Are they looking for a program that provides exposure to AI or training in using AI, or a technical program that offers foundational content and courses on AI technology?

Flynn adds, "They should also consider whether they want the related skills and knowledge that will get them into the job market now, or a broader degree that will be a foundation for long-term advancement."

Getting an Edge with Employers

According to David Leighton, CEO of WITI, an organization for technology professionals, some employers may favorably view a dedicated AI degree over a simple computer science degree.

According to CNBC, no one really knows the value of an AI scientific degree in a few years. Given the uncertainty, some experts believe students won't go wrong if they choose a traditional computer science degree or an AI certificate, provided they learn all the fundamental skills. Those who take the former route should take AI and data science courses, which could be important for future employment opportunities.

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