How To Specialize in Artificial Intelligence

Earning TROY’s Master’s degree in Computer Science is one of the most effective ways to enter the AI field.

Earning TROY’s Master’s degree in Computer Science is one of the most effective ways to enter the AI field.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way we work — and live. From helping us solve social challenges and improving business outcomes to boosting our productivity and enhancing our creativity, the possibilities and potential of AI seem endless. 

But while recent innovations have brought AI into the spotlight, the artificial intelligence field is not new, says Dr. Suman Kumar, Associate Professor and Computer Science Department Chair at Troy University. 

“It has been evolving for decades, but now, with memory advances and graphic processing units (GPUs), we can use AI far more effectively as compared to 30 or 40 years ago,” Dr. Kumar explains. “Now, almost every industry and field uses deep learning. It is one of the most profound shifts. AI now touches almost every aspect of human life.” 

These advancements have created a heightened demand for computer scientists, machine learning engineers, data scientists, software engineers, research scientists and more. So how can you become part of this promising field? By learning how to specialize in artificial intelligence. 

Artificial Intelligence Job Opportunities Abound

AI is in the news today because of advances in large language models like ChatGPT and Google Bard, both powerful AI systems that can be used to produce content, conduct research and more. Stronger machine-learning capabilities have also greatly expanded what we can do with AI, from improving security measures with facial recognition to helping us improve our health with wearable devices that track our heart rates and activity levels. 

AI, Dr. Kumar says, is here to stay.

“All kinds of organizations, whether it’s big box retailers or health care, are becoming more and more data-driven. Algorithmic trading in the stock market is also data-driven. AI can help us make sense of that data. Government organizations, such as the IRS, can use AI to help detect fraud. Video game designers use it in game design. Cities can use it to predict traffic patterns. I’ve even seen research about its applications in dentistry. Whether someone is using it predictively to get ahead of a problem or generativity to help them create something, AI is applicable to almost any discipline.”

That means, now more than ever, professionals who can design, develop, train and improve AI are in high demand. Take computer and information research scientists, for example. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs within this field will grow by 23% through 2032, which is much faster than average. The average annual salary is $136,620, the BLS reports.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about AI,” Dr. Kumar shares. “One of those misconceptions is that AI can never fail. AI does fail, and the field needs more humans behind it because it doesn’t have human intelligence. We design it to operate like human intelligence, but it will never truly be human.”

So, what kinds of other careers in AI are out there?

“Many artificial intelligence job opportunities will be in health care,” shares Dr. Kumar. “Health care increasingly employs artificial intelligence to help understand patient data and prevent disease. Bioinformatics, a field in which you analyze biological data, also holds promise for those interested in AI.” 

Other artificial intelligence jobs include machine learning specialist, AI researcher, data scientist, video game designer, research engineer, AI systems engineer and AI specialist. But the AI career that’s right for you depends on how you want to contribute to the field. 

“As an AI researcher, you can contribute to the development of new AI systems,” says Dr. Kumar. “As a machine learning specialist, you’ll help train those systems. If you enjoy working with data, you can become a data scientist and use data to make predictions or decisions. When you have a background in AI, you have a lot of opportunities.” 

How To Start an Artificial Intelligence Career

If you’re wondering how to start an artificial intelligence career, the first step is to learn AI. You may qualify for some roles with a bachelor’s degree, AI courses or related career experience. However, according to the BLS, a graduate degree in computer science or a related field is needed for most computer and information research jobs, including artificial intelligence job opportunities. 

If you’re already working in an entry-level role, a master’s degree can help you advance because you’ll develop the mathematical knowledge, programming skills and research experience you need to excel in AI jobs. 

“The artificial intelligence field — and, more broadly, computer science — grew out of mathematics,” notes Dr. Kumar. “To be successful in AI jobs, you have to be skilled in math. Much of machine learning is math, so the better you are at math, the better you’ll perform. A master’s in computer science program provides you with a strong foundation in math, programming and data science to prepare you for careers in AI.” 

Working on AI-related projects and taking graduate courses in machine learning and data science can give you an advantage in the job market. You’ll want to choose a graduate program led by faculty who are knowledgeable about trends in the field. You may also want to choose an area of specialization, such as bioinformatics, to expand your career opportunities. 

How To Specialize in Artificial Intelligence 

While there are many paths to an artificial intelligence specialization, earning TROY’s master’s in computer science is one of the most effective ways to enter the AI field. TROY offers an M.S. in computer science with a specialization in artificial intelligence to help you develop technical knowledge and skills for AI jobs. 

“Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science which is interdisciplinary,” says Dr. Kumar. “An artificial intelligence specialization will give you interdisciplinary study in computer science along with experience in designing and implementing AI systems. These skills are among the most needed in the AI industry.” 

Choosing an M.S. in computer science with a specialization in artificial intelligence will ensure you have those skills, along with machine learning, programming and data analysis. TROY’s master’s in computer science program, with a thesis and non-thesis track, will also help you gain research experience and build your portfolio. TROY’s program emphasizes project-based learning to give you further advantage. 

“Our program is very hands-on,” shares Dr. Kumar. “In our courses, we try to come up with real-life problems for our students to solve. Then, students practice creating solutions to those real-world problems, learning advanced research skills, machine learning and other skills along the way.” 

For example, students in the artificial intelligence specialization at TROY have worked on using AI to prevent cybersecurity attacks. They’ve also completed projects in transportation and routing. One student even used AI to predict winning baseball teams, which could have applications in TROY’s sports management program.

“All of our projects are practical and applicable in real life. What the students find in their projects is fascinating, but more importantly, useful,” says Dr. Kumar.

Learn More About TROY’s Graduate Program
Interested in preparing for AI jobs? Learn more about how TROY’s M.S. in computer science and artificial intelligence specialization can help you launch or advance your career.