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2020 AI Talent Report Highlights: Current Talent Landscape & 2020 Market Trends

By TalentSeer on January 22, 2020

AI technologies evolved at breakneck speed in 2019 and will continue to mature through 2020. A sustainable AI talent ecosystem across all industries is critical to enable AI production and commercialization at scale in 2020 and beyond. 


Built on TalentSeer’s extensive engagement with over 500 AI companies and 15,000 AI talent, this report provides an in-depth discussion of the current AI talent landscape, new market trends, and practical guidance for AI talent and talent leaders to thrive in the ecosystem. Below are some of the key findings.


2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends (TalentSeer)

AI Talent Demand Rises For AI Production and New Industries 

Demand for AI talent has grown by 74% annually in the past 4 years. While companies focused more on hiring machine learning/deep learning engineers, AI researchers, data scientists, and algorithm developers in 2019 and prior, we expect to see a rising demand for talent to directly build, manage, and sell AI products as they go mainstream. The market is also expanding from autonomous driving and robotics into non-tech industries, such as finance, healthcare, retail, and agriculture.


2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends (TalentSeer)

How much is the offer package for AI talent in Silicon Valley?

The San Francisco Bay Area has been attracting top AI talent across the globe with its substantial compensation packages. Our analysis of 1000+ voluntarily reported AI engineering job offers reveals that growth-stage startups offer the highest average base pay of $200K, with a total package comparable to top tech companies (Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, Uber, etc.). Early-stage startups with an average base pay around 160K often provide significant share options to attract and retain talent. Companies in non-tech industries can provide a bonus of up to 50% to compensate for limited stocks. (View full report to learn more market compensation insights.)


Silicon Valley AI Engineering Talent Salary Guide [TalentSeer 2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends]

Building AI Teams beyond Silicon Valley

The shortage of AI talent and escalating compensation packages, alongside the labor cost in Silicon Valley, have pushed many AI companies to build global teams in alternative tech hubs. 30% of AI startups in our AI talent leader survey also indicated a plan to expand teams remotely in 2020. For companies, it is important to start adopting the technology and processes for team integration to prepare for a distributed teamwork mode. Considering the cost of living, Austin, Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix provide the highest relevant salary, making them the ideal place for AI engineers to relocate to within North America.


2019 Average AI Engineering Talent Salary in Major Cities across North America [TalentSeer 2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends]

Employers increasingly value non-technical attributes for AI talent

The AI industry is facing substantial technical challenges in the face of ambiguity, and companies are increasingly seeking diverse individuals with compelling non-technical attributes, such as creativity, critical thinking, growth mindset, resilience, and communication skills. According to our survey of 80+ AI talent leaders in Silicon Valley startups, building the right culture of innovation, encouraging individuals to take ownership, and streamlining communication will not only help talent to grow faster but also effectively retain talent.


2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends (TalentSeer)

Experience matters in transitioning into AI companies and roles

Although experienced talent with an advanced degree in AI majors from top schools is the most highly sought after in the market, there are plenty of opportunities for other candidates to become competitive with thoughtful career planning. For example, students from bootcamps and online AI/ML training are often rejected due to lack of experience, especially by startups. These people may need to think creatively about finding opportunities to work, utilizing stepping stones like non-AI positions in AI companies, entry-level positions in established tech companies, and even pro-bono work at early-stage companies. Candidates with indirect AI majors bachelor degrees, or community college degrees can potentially find their roles in the AI industry by also looking creatively for opportunities to work.


2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends (TalentSeer)

There is a strong drive for greater diversity and inclusion in AI

There is a significant lack of diversity within the industry related to gender, ethnicity, background, and others, and it has shown to cause biases in end products towards minorities. In the meantime, more and more AI companies are seriously incorporating diversity in their hiring process and setting quotas for underrepresented groups. Our analysis of Silicon Valley AI engineering jobs also shows the base salary for women and men is not significantly different if their educational background, experience, and seniority is equal.


2020 AI Talent Report: Current Landscape & New Market Trends (TalentSeer)

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