May 24, 2024

Machine Learning Engineer Salary and Job Description 2024

ML applications

Machine learning engineers are the masterminds behind intelligent systems that learn and improve over time. They power everything from Netflix recommendations to self-driving cars. As more companies scramble to harness the power of AI and ML, the demand for these professionals is skyrocketing.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*, jobs for computer and information research scientists, including ML engineers, will grow by 23% from 2022-2030. Businesses seeking a competitive edge through smart decision-making and automation drive this growth.

Data interaction is increasingly common across industries, making machine learning engineers crucial to companies' success. These engineers create algorithms that learn from data, helping businesses uncover insights, automate tasks, and stay ahead of the curve.

If you're excited by the prospect of a career that is both intellectually stimulating and highly impactful, machine learning engineering could be the perfect fit. In this article, we'll explore what it's really like to work as a machine learning engineer, the salaries you can expect, and the key skills you'll need to thrive in this dynamic field.

What does a machine learning engineer do?

On a day-to-day basis, ML engineers are in the trenches, building and deploying models that power intelligent systems. They wrangle datasets, design experiments, test algorithms, and fine-tune models for optimal performance in real-world applications. For example, an ML engineer at a social media company might develop a new recommendation system to keep users engaged. To excel in this role, machine learning engineers need to be masters of both technical and soft skills. Some of the key technical skills include:

Beyond coding, machine learning engineers must be strong communicators who can collaborate with cross-functional teams to ship successful projects. They should be able to break down complex technical concepts for non-tech folks and keep everyone aligned. Since the ML world moves rapidly, a love for constant learning is essential.

Many ML engineers have studied computer science, math, or statistics, but alternative paths exist. Dataquest's Machine Learning Fundamentals in Python course provides hands-on skills to help you land your dream job and score a competitive machine learning engineer salary.

Salary and career outlook for the machine learning engineer

Interested in discovering the potential earning prospects of a machine learning engineer? As per Glassdoor, the median annual salary for ML engineers in the United States stands at an impressive \$171,001, encompassing base pay varying from \$126,000 to over \$221,000 per annum.

Naturally, several factors can significantly augment the salary of a machine learning engineer:

  • Location: ML engineers in tech hubs like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle tend to command the big bucks.
  • Industry matters: Tech giants and cutting-edge startups often shell out the most for top ML talent. Think companies like Google, Netflix, and OpenAI, where machine learning is at the core of their business.
  • Experience pays: Entry-level ML engineers typically start around \$100,000 per year,* while senior ML engineers can rake in an average of \$169,000 annually.* As you gain experience and expertise, your earning potential skyrockets.

So what's the typical career trajectory for a machine learning engineer? Most start out in junior roles, then climb the ladder to senior positions like lead ML engineer or head of machine learning. The key to moving up (and boosting your machine learning engineer salary) is to constantly sharpen your skills and take on increasingly complex projects.

Specializing in demanding areas like deep learning, NLP, or computer vision can also give you a serious edge. While an advanced degree can help, real-world experience and a outstanding portfolio are often the tickets to the top. And with resources like Dataquest's Supervised Machine Learning in Python path, you can gain the hands-on skills to fast-track your career growth.

Junior machine learning engineer job description

Junior machine learning engineer position provides an exciting launchpad into the rapidly growing field of AI and ML. In this role, you'll have the opportunity to work with vast datasets, create intelligent systems, and directly impact an organization's ability to leverage data from day one.

Common job titles:

  • Junior Machine Learning Engineer
  • Machine Learning Developer - Entry Level
  • Associate Machine Learning Engineer
  • AI/ML Software Engineer - Entry Level

As a junior ML engineer, you'll collect, process, and analyze complex data to build and deploy models. This role is perfect for people who love algorithms and enjoy tackling complex problems. They are skilled at turning the latest research into real-world solutions.

Most junior positions look for candidates with a Bachelor's degree in a field like Computer Science, Mathematics, or Statistics. Hiring managers also love to see hands-on experience through internships, projects, or online courses, as it shows you can apply your skills to solve real-world problems.

Junior machine learning engineer salary: The typical junior machine learning engineer salary ranges from \$97,000 to \$136,000 per year according to Glassdoor.

Key responsibilities:

  • Collecting and preprocessing large datasets for model training
  • Designing, implementing, and testing ML models using frameworks like TensorFlow or PyTorch
  • Conducting experiments to optimize model performance and efficiency
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams to integrate ML solutions into products
  • Staying up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in the field

Must-have skills:

  • Strong programming skills in Python and familiarity with ML libraries like scikit-learn
  • Solid understanding of machine learning algorithms and techniques
  • Experience with data manipulation and feature engineering
  • Knowledge of software engineering best practices like version control and unit testing
  • Excellent problem-solving and communication skills

When applying for junior machine learning engineer positions, ensure to highlight your pertinent coursework, projects, and internships in both your resume and cover letter. During interviews, be prepared to discuss your proficiency in machine learning, provide examples of successfully overcoming data-related challenges, and demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning in this dynamic field.

If you love problem-solving, have endless curiosity, and enjoy using data to create smart systems that transform processes, consider this: A career as an entry-level machine learning engineer might be your perfect fit.

Mid-level machine learning engineer job description

Take your machine learning career to the next level with a mid-level machine learning engineer position. In this role, you'll be the essential bridge between junior engineers building initial models and senior staff managing production. Your work will ensure seamless integration and optimal performance of ML systems.

Common job titles:

  • Mid-Level Machine Learning Engineer
  • Senior Machine Learning Developer
  • Lead Machine Learning Engineer
  • AI/ML Software Engineer - Mid Level

As a mid-level machine learning engineer, you'll tackle complex challenges, such as optimizing algorithms, troubleshooting issues, and guaranteeing smooth integration between ML systems and other software components. This position demands a perfect balance of advanced technical skills and effective collaboration abilities to bridge the gap between prototypes and production-ready solutions.

Your typical day will involve enhancing the accuracy and performance of existing ML models, seamlessly integrating ML systems with other software components, and ensuring a smooth transition from prototype to production environments. You'll actively participate in code reviews and sprint planning sessions while sharing your knowledge and expertise with colleagues through mentoring and presentations.

Mid-level machine learning engineer salary: According to Glassdoor, the typical salary range for a mid-level machine learning engineer is between \$117,000 and \$169,000 per year.

Key responsibilities:

  • Optimizing and fine-tuning ML models for enhanced performance and efficiency
  • Seamlessly integrating ML systems with other software components
  • Ensuring a smooth transition from prototype to production environments
  • Actively participating in code reviews and sprint planning sessions to maintain high-quality deliverables
  • Mentoring junior team members and sharing knowledge through presentations and collaborations

Must-have skills:

  • Strong expertise in programming languages such as Python
  • Proven track record of working with popular ML frameworks like TensorFlow, PyTorch, or scikit-learn
  • In-depth knowledge of data engineering principles and data visualization techniques
  • Exceptional problem-solving abilities and communication skills
  • Ability to thrive in a collaborative team environment and effectively mentor junior engineers

When applying for mid-level machine learning engineer positions, be sure to highlight your most impactful projects, collaborations, and the measurable results you've achieved in your previous roles. During interviews, be prepared to demonstrate your technical expertise, your enthusiasm for ML, and your commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in this rapidly evolving field.

If you're driven to advance your machine learning career and make a significant impact in the AI/ML space, a mid-level machine learning engineer position could be the ideal next step. Embrace the opportunity to tackle complex challenges, collaborate with talented professionals, and create innovative solutions that shape the future of machine learning.

Senior machine learning engineer job description

As a senior machine learning engineer, you'll be at the forefront of driving business innovation through cutting-edge technology. You'll take the lead on complex projects, craft game-changing ML strategies, and mentor junior team members to help them level up their skills.

Common job titles:

  • Senior Machine Learning Engineer
  • Lead Machine Learning Engineer
  • Principal Machine Learning Engineer
  • AI/ML Architect

What distinguishes this role is the exceptional combination of deep technical expertise, strategic thinking, and outstanding leadership skills. As a senior ML engineer, you won't just be building algorithms - you'll be shaping the future of the business and taking your company's ML game to the next level.

On any given day, you may lead a team to develop and deploy an innovative ML model. You might create a data architecture designed for speed, scale, and robust machine learning capabilities. Expect to mentor junior engineers, share knowledge, and collaborate with stakeholders to align ML with business objectives.

Senior machine learning engineer salary: According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a senior machine learning engineer is a cool \$154,421 per year, with a range of \$137,000 to \$171,000.

Key responsibilities:

  • Taking the lead on ML projects from start to finish, from planning to deployment
  • Designing and optimizing data architectures that are built for machine learning success
  • Mentoring and guiding junior team members to help them grow and succeed
  • Communicating ML strategies to stakeholders in a way that gets them pumped

Must-have skills:

  • Serious expertise in machine learning algorithms and models - you know your stuff inside and out
  • Strong skills in programming languages like Python, R, or Java - you code like a boss
  • Been there, done that with data architecture design - you know how to build systems that scale
  • A proficiency in project management and leadership - you know how to rally the troops and get things done
  • A way with words and a gift for stakeholder management - you can communicate complex ideas in a way that resonates

As a senior machine learning engineer, you'll be the key to making sure your organization is harnessing the full power of ML to crush their goals. You'll be the bridge between the technical and the strategic, driving projects that can take the business to new heights.

If you're ready to take your machine learning career to the next level and make a real impact, a senior ML engineer position could be your dream job. Get ready to put your skills to the test, lead the charge on game-changing projects, and help shape the future of AI and ML.

How to find and apply for jobs in machine learning engineering

As the demand for machine learning engineering expertise rises, securing a job in this field requires a strategic approach. Here are some effective strategies to help you navigate the job search process:

  • Build a strong online presence: Maintain an up-to-date and professional LinkedIn profile, highlighting your machine learning engineering skills, projects, and achievements. Engage with relevant industry groups and share your knowledge through posts or articles.
  • Leverage your network: Reach out to your professional contacts, such as former colleagues, classmates, or professors, and let them know you're actively seeking machine learning engineering opportunities. They may be aware of job openings or able to provide valuable referrals.
  • Attend industry events and meetups: Participate in local or virtual machine learning engineering events, conferences, or meetups. These platforms provide opportunities to learn about job openings, network with professionals, and showcase your skills.
  • Contribute to open-source projects: Actively contributing to open-source machine learning projects can demonstrate your technical abilities and passion for the field. It also allows you to gain practical experience and expand your portfolio.
  • Tailor your application materials: Carefully review job descriptions and requirements, and customize your resume, cover letter, and portfolio to highlight how your qualifications align with the specific role and company.
  • Prepare for technical interviews: Machine learning engineering interviews often involve coding challenges, technical discussions, and project presentations. Practice your skills and be prepared to showcase your problem-solving abilities and discuss your past projects in detail.

ML applications

Remember, securing a machine learning engineering role requires persistence, continuous learning, and a proactive approach. Stay up-to-date with industry trends, expand your skillset, and actively engage with the machine learning community to increase your chances of success in this exciting and rapidly-evolving field.


Becoming a successful machine learning engineer requires a unique blend of skills, traits, and interests. If you enjoy problem-solving, have an aptitude for programming, and are curious about using data to drive innovation, this could be the perfect career path for you.

No matter where you are in your learning journey, there are steps you can take to move forward:

  • Beginners: Learn the basics of machine learning workflows and algorithms.
  • Intermediates: Build a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to solve real-world problems with machine learning.
  • Advanced learners: Contribute to open-source projects or earn advanced certifications to take your expertise to the next level and showcase your commitment and skill to potential employers.

Throughout your career, tap into the support and networking opportunities offered by other communities. Engage with peers through online forums and local meetups to learn and stay current on industry trends.

The Machine Learning Fundamentals in Python course at Dataquest provides a structured learning path to help you develop practical skills through hands-on projects, with guidance from our knowledgeable community.

Regularly assess your skills and commit to continuous learning to keep pace with your goals and the evolving field. Becoming a skilled machine learning engineer is a journey of ongoing growth, real-world practice, and community engagement. By dedicating yourself to these principles, you'll build a fulfilling career at the forefront of technological innovation.

Brayan Opiyo

About the author

Brayan Opiyo

Passionate about mathematics and dedicated to advancing in the realms of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence