These are the AI jobs popping up as tech needs evolve workforce

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Thursday, May 16, 2024
These are the AI jobs popping up as tech needs evolve workforce
Could you see yourself as a prompt engineer or AI ethicist? Here's what Texas is seeing, and the roles predicted to be least affected by AI.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Artificial intelligence is evolving quickly, and one concern is how that will translate to jobs.

Action 13 reached out to the Texas Workforce Commission, who said some existing jobs may change as workers spend less time on tasks that can be automated and more time on things that can't.

The agency is already seeing new AI-related job titles such as prompt engineer, AI researcher, machine learning engineer, natural language processing engineer and AI ethicist.

That aligns with what Dr. Hong Lin says he's noticed.

Lin directs the University of Houston - Downtown's Master's in Artificial Intelligence program. He's also a professor of computer science and engineering technology.

"AI engineer is probably most prevalently used," Lin told ABC13. "AI is widely used in a lot of areas, so some positions with different titles may actually be AI positions - data engineer, machine learning engineer or even data scientist can be AI jobs as well."

For example, in the business sector, a role might be called "business intelligence engineer." And in health care, a position might be called "biomedical informatics analyst."

Lin also predicts that while there will be changes in the workforce, they may be gradual.

"Some jobs may disappear like those replaced by a machine, but you might see new jobs appearing," Lin explained.

TWC said there are areas that won't be as disrupted.

"Jobs that involve creativity, relationship building, and significant dexterity/problem solving will be hardest if not impossible to automate," TWC said in a statement. "Some of these include nurses, teachers (especially vocational education), elder-care assistants, plumbers, electricians, and mechanics."

Jobs that don't meet those criteria may evolve, the agency added.

It's why Kara Branch recommends people be prepared to upskill.

"Learn what it is, what it does, how is it collecting information and how can it help you in your life," Branch said of AI. "Build a portfolio, show them what you have done around AI, that way they can see your work to be able to determine bringing you on board to their company."

SEE ALSO: AI like ChatGPT can make your life easier, but here's what to know before you tell it anything

Branch is a chemical engineer who worked on all things AI for a Fortune 100 company. She now runs Black Girls Do Engineer - a STEM program for girls ages 6-21. Not only does she teach them how to work with AI, she also reminds them it's still people who power it.

Her nonprofit also has a futuristic focus, with a goal of exposing students to certain career paths, hands-on learning and enrichment programs to prepare them for college and job placement.

In addition, BGDE dedicates a month of learning to AI, with imaging and creating artificial intelligence galleries among the activities.

"You're building this, you're programming these robots, you're doing all of this work, but who is doing it? And then, they have to think about it. It's me! So there's people behind it," she said.

But another important element, Branch explained, was making sure there's a diverse workforce among the ranks of people who are behind AI technology, particularly in training bots against biases.

"I asked it a question one time because I work with a lot of Black girls in STEM. I ask for data on that. It could not give me any, so that's a problem," she said. "To be able to get that data, I feel like people have to be using an algorithm to be able to understand that's data that people want and need."

"We need to be able to be able to train up more people of color, give them exposure and bring awareness to them that these careers exist and get them in someone's company or their own," she continued.

People are needed in different places. The top areas where AI skills have grown in demand over the last four years include communication, problem solving, operations, research, and software engineering. As of March, Texas ranked 4th in the U.S. for job postings where AI is an element of the role.

As for AI-related jobs in Houston, TWC said it hasn't seen data just yet that reflects major changes and seeing those trends may take some time.

MORE: 'People don't realize the innovation that happens here' AI at work in Houston's oil and gas industry

Still, the reality is that AI isn't going away.

And if you aren't ready to make a large commitment to learning the tech or how it works, free resources are available.

LinkedIn, Microsoft and Intel all offer free online courses. Google and MIT have a no-cost course for educators.

"It's a great tool. And that's what people don't realize. When you talk about AI, they kind of get afraid," said graduate student Amée Stevenson. "But AI is a tool, first and foremost. Think of it in terms of, especially in the medical field, how long does it take a doctor or a group of doctors to figure out what they're looking at in a scan is breast cancer? If it can take in more data and do an immediate analysis, the faster they get to those anomalies, the better it is for us."

Here are some of the ways you can boost your AI skills for the job market of the future, and the roles experts predict will be the hardest to replace.

Stevenson, a contractor for NASA, went back to school to earn her master's in artificial intelligence from UHD.

"We're really at the very beginning of the application of this. So it's a little hard to predict," Stevenson said. "I just feel like that's the most important thing is education. Don't be afraid. Keep your eyes open. Change is always going to be there, and you just have to keep pushing yourself."

READ MORE: Houston Community College to offer 1st 4-year bachelor's programs starting this fall

UHD launched its two-year AI program in 2022. The first round of students should graduate this semester.

"The goal of our program is to train people to be well prepared for AI career development," Lin said. "So we try to build a foundation for them to develop their skills in AI."

"In almost every industry, you find a problem AI can solve," he added.

Houston Community College and Lone Star College also both offer programs in artificial intelligence.

More on AI: How AI-enabled, handheld ultrasound could help save moms' and babies' lives

Artificial intelligence is giving an assist to pregnant women and their care teams through an AI-enabled ultrasound called Butterfly.

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