Navigating the AI Freelance Boom by Discovering a New Avenue for Career Growth

A new player is making its mark in the ever-changing landscape of career opportunities: the AI specialist. Vlad Hu, a software engineer turned entrepreneur, began his career by establishing his own software agency. However, a new channel has developed in the last year: the arena of freelance artificial intelligence professionals. Hu's experience is not unique, as a growing wave of generative AI is altering the freelancing tech work market. This phenomenon has resulted in increased AI-related job posts from companies and job seekers' interest on sites such as LinkedIn, Upwork, and Fiverr.

A mere three years ago, becoming an AI expert required a deep understanding of machine learning algorithms, general deep learning AI concepts, and many technical intricacies. Hu, who now collaborates with Fiverr on chatbot implementation projects, can attest to the shifting sands of this field.

Indeed data shows that job postings for generative AI increased roughly 250% between July 2021 and July 2023. LinkedIn, controlled by Microsoft and a significant investor in OpenAI, also reported a large increase in member searches for new AI topics. LinkedIn has seen a constant spike in gen AI keyword mentions in member profiles since the public's infatuation with huge language models like ChatGPT took off in November 2022. AI-related terms like "ChatGPT," "prompt engineering," and "prompt crafting" are already appearing often in profiles, a 15-fold rise from the start of the year.

The business sector is paying close attention to the AI revolution. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate AI into their operations and are actively seeking skilled freelance engineers' advice. For example, Hu frequently receives inquiries from organizations interested in incorporating ChatGPT or similar AI bots into their applications. Fiverr has also seen an increase in interest in AI-related video creation over the last six months, as well as an increase in demand for AI app development specialists.

The AI freelance market is poised for continued growth, according to a LinkedIn survey of executives. Their data reveals that 44% of U.S. executives plan to expand their use of AI technologies in the coming year, with 47% anticipating improved productivity.

LinkedIn's top economist, Dr. Karin Kimbrough, points out that AI alters the workforce. Professionals worldwide are rapidly developing AI skills, and organizations are aggressively recruiting personnel capable of leveraging these abilities for enhanced productivity.

Opportunities for AI freelancers to exploit their expertise abound, mainly as a scarcity of AI capabilities exists among current industry professionals across all sectors of the economy. In the United States, for example, only 2.2% of technology, information, and media workers are AI proficient. While other areas, such as retail and finance, are catching up, the ratio of skilled workers remains low.

Freelance job platform Upwork, in a recent partnership with OpenAI, reports that experts are marketing over 250 different AI skills. Margaret Lilani, Upwork's vice president of talent solutions, suggests that a strong foundation in computer science, machine learning algorithms, proficiency in programming languages such as Python, or experience in data management and analysis are often prerequisites for AI consulting roles. Many AI experts have relevant undergraduate degrees, such as a bachelor's or master's in computer science or engineering. However, finding a job in AI ultimately comes down to demonstrating one's talents, abilities, and knowledge.

There are various avenues open for people interested in entering the AI sector. Over the last year, online learning platforms such as Udacity have witnessed a 33% spike in interest in AI-based courses. These courses cover many topics, including deep learning and AI programming with Python, machine learning for DevOps engineers, computer vision, and natural language processing. Victoria Papalian, general manager of Udacity's consumer division, notes that they are expanding their content to include Generative AI and related subjects to meet the growing demand.

Lilani recommends beginning with computer science classes if you are a high school student or a newcomer to the workforce interested in exploring AI. These courses lay the groundwork for the programming languages required for AI proficiency. Furthermore, independent learning approaches such as viewing YouTube videos or reading AI-focused blogs are gaining popularity for obtaining AI capabilities. Staying current with concepts and technologies like ChatGPT is critical for professionals in an ever-changing job landscape across all industries.

Hu offers practical advice for beginners in the AI space. He recommends starting with the basics, including OpenAI tools like ChatGPT, ChatGPT API, Dall-E, and Davinci. Nevertheless, he underscores that proficiency in these areas is only the beginning. Because the genuine value of AI is found in its practical application to real-world problems, prospective AI specialists must bridge the gap between technology and its meaningful application. Hu says, "It's how you bridge the gap with the real-world problem that truly matters."

To summarize, whether you are an experienced developer looking for new challenges or a beginner eager to dive into the world of AI, there has never been a more exciting time to explore the position of a freelance AI specialist. AI is the future, and it is ready for the taking!

Read next: ChatGPT Can Get You One Step Closer To Landing Your Dream Job But Not All Take It Seriously, New Survey Reveals
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