Just wondering if a masters in Artificial Intelligence is worth it? I don't see too many master programs that are explicitly labeled as a masters in AI, usually general comp sci. What I mean by "worth it" is when you graduate will you be offered jobs that pay as well as if you worked in industry instead? From what I've seen AI is a very hot field (Who doesn't want things automated?), but there's not a ton of people with expertise in it (More experts and options for advanced education in the machine learning/data science side of it). Is a masters in AI worth the career investment?
I've done a masters in AI and graduated almost a year ago. In my experience, it was definitely worth it. Completing any computer-oriented degree is bound to attract employers (or rather recruiters/headhunters working for the employers) that will want to hire you. There's is currently a higher demand than an offer.
With that being said, do you wish to work in AI or just to get a higher payroll? I now work as a machine learning engineer, and would not have gotten that function with just a comp-sci degree.
Whether the pay is significantly higher depends on the country that you live in. Most companies (in Europe at least) claim to want AI but are reluctant to invest. Furthermore, a large majority of companies do not even know what AI is, and will try to hire you as a data analyst. As a result, we see a lot of AI graduates migrate to the USA or China, where they do earn significantly more.
In the end, AI is still a relatively new industry whose role in society is still largely undefined. I got offered a lot of jobs as a software developer towards the end of my masters, some of which paid more than my current function. The big difference is that software development is not something that I am passionate about, while AI is. I am also convinced that the value of both AI and AI experts will increase in the near future, as people become more accustomed to their roles in society.
Determining the ROI (return on investment) of a degree is a complicated projection depending on a few main factors.
- How much will the tuition and fees cost?
- Will the student endure the grueling parallel work and study?
- If not, how much will the loss of income and potential debt affect the student's accumulation of assets by retirement?
- What will the masters student learn that will produce a career advantage?
- How will the degree be perceived by employers over the next few decades in terms of pay grades?
Market demand is not in the list, since those with any degree related to AI will likely be in high demand unless we run out of oil, gas, and coal before we properly develop solar and wind energy acquisition or there's a nuclear war, in which case the question is probably moot.
From a career investment, provided one does not try to rush through the masters faster than they can pay for it, accumulating a massive debt, it is probably a smart financial move to seek a masters or PhD level education for such a broad and intellectually demanding field.
It may be wise to also look beyond financial return to other less popular but significantly more important returns on the investment of time and money into higher levels of education.
- Do we want those with only the basics determining the development direction and long term impact of an extremely powerful technology set?
- Or are you the kind of enlightened person that can see beyond the few decades of their own career and would prefer place the make of your car, the number of garage ports, and whether you have the latest mobile device a little behind whether your species survives?
- Is there some benefit to you to be a leader in your field for other more current reasons, like helping others learn or not getting the crap jobs while the PhD and masters graduates get to work on the most exciting projects?