Is a Degree in Artificial Intelligence Right for You?

March 4, 2021 • Devin Partida


Artificial intelligence (AI) is finally a widely utilized technology, assisting people in industries ranging from health care to agriculture. If you’re interested in AI and thinking about career prospects, you might be thinking about getting a degree in artificial intelligence. Deciding on your educational path isn’t easy, but these questions could help you decide what to do. 

1. Are You Concerned About Future Job Market Prospects?

Before they start formal education programs, people often wonder, “Will I end up with a decent-paying job after all this?” The good news is that if you pursue a degree in artificial intelligence, the answer is most likely “Yes.”

A 2020 Deloitte study showed that 48% of the companies categorized as most seasoned based on previous AI projects tackled still had problematic skills shortages. More specifically, the people in that segment self-rated the issue with finding talent as moderate, major or extreme. 

Earning a degree is not a guaranteed path to a job. However, it can make your resume look more attractive and help prove that you learned a core set of foundational skills. Then, you’re in an excellent position to show you can help address a well-documented talent shortage.

2. Do You Have a Full-Time Job Now?

If you’re engaged in full-time work now and want to stay at that workplace for the foreseeable future, your work schedule may not feasibly allow the free time required to take part in a traditional degree program. However, it’s still worth exploring online-based programs that may let you work towards your diploma outside of work hours. 

Provided that AI knowledge aligns with what your workplace does or needs, your employer may even pay for costs associated with your degree in artificial intelligence. Point out that your education will make you more of an asset to the company. 

Your job schedule may not support the time commitments of a formal degree program. If that’s the case, look at short-term options, such as AI boot camps. Those could be ideal if you already have a tech background and want to learn your new skills in a matter of weeks or months rather than through a longer program. 

3. Are You Curious and Eager to Learn?

Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving technology. That reality means you’ll set yourself up for success by staying abreast of new developments, opinions from thought leaders and predictions about what will happen with AI over the next several years or decades. 

Earning a diploma is not a substitute for the knowledge you can also gain through cultivating your fascination and enthusiasm about what’s happening with AI and what may occur soon. 

Former IBM CEO Ginny Rometty thinks it’s more important to focus on someone’s willingness to learn rather than what they already know. She prizes curiosity, too. In short, she advocates for employers teaching their employees the hard skills they need. As long as workers have the necessary soft skills, employers can fill in the gaps by offering specialized training. 

4. How Self-Motivated Are You?

Maybe you’re in a position where money, time or something else prevents you from getting a degree in artificial intelligence right now. Even so, such circumstances don’t prohibit you from pursuing self-driven learning about the subject. 

The internet offers a wide assortment of AI courses you can take for free. Many come directly from universities or give you access through well-known educational portals. If you’re ready to learn on your own, getting a degree in artificial intelligence may not be necessary right now. 

However, ensure that you’re ready to put in the commitment required. When you don’t have to pay for a course, it may feel more tempting to give up if things get tough and you become overwhelmed. 

Consider, too, that some employers may prefer candidates that earned AI degrees rather than those that participated in no-cost internet courses. Some of the internet’s content is highly regarded and of excellent quality, but some hiring managers prefer to see evidence of traditional learning.

5. Do You Have Experience With AI?

People who have done it say it’s difficult but doable to get a job in AI without formal experience. You’ve probably noticed that many entry-level jobs in most fields require candidates to have at least a year or two of experience. If you’re truly at the point of entering the workforce, how can employers expect that kind of experience?

When it comes to artificial intelligence, it’s crucial to search for practical ways to get experience even without a degree program. For example, if your city has a hackathon, take part in that to see what it’s like to work alongside peers to achieve a common goal. 

Explore the internet to find step-by-step AI projects to tackle. As you become more skilled, think about progressing to design projects yourself. Doing that will show employers that you can think critically and stay focused on a detailed undertaking. 

Having a degree in artificial intelligence may set you apart from the crowd at some workplaces. However, many tech companies — including Google and Apple — have stopped requiring bachelor’s degrees for some job candidates. This shift illuminates how decision-makers realize that there’s more than one way to get educated in today’s society. 

Consider Your Situation and Outlook

There’s no universal “right” way to figure out if earning a degree in artificial intelligence is the right choice for you. Maybe you’re at the point where the most important thing to you is to have a high chance of getting a job after graduation. In that case, the first question on this list is likely the most applicable. 

However, you’ll also need to ponder long-term goals, your personal obligations and your current work situation. Remember not to rush your decision about earning a degree. Taking your time and weighing all the relevant factors will give you the best results.