Computer vision engineers cashing in on AI, robotics craze

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Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a weekly series looking at the top jobs in data science and analytics. The first pieces looked at data engineers, data scientists, data analysts, data architects. and machine learning engineers. This article looks at the demand for and opportunities available to computer vision engineers.

Job title: Computer vision engineer

Reports to: The computer vision engineer will report into any number of people, depending on the business that they employed at. Typically, you would report into a lead or principal computer vision engineer, or in the case of smaller businesses and start-ups a director/head of computer vision or chief research officer perhaps. In the computer vision space there is no real trend as to whom you would report into and will often differ quite heavily form business to business.

Demand for this role: Computer vision is becoming huge across multiple industries and work areas. These include robotics, defense, industrial engineering, security and autonomous vehicles, and as robotics and AI grow in popularity and become more commonplace, the demand for expert computer vision engineers is growing simultaneously.

Top industries hiring for this job: The top industries hiring for these types of workers are defense and aerospace, robotics, industrial engineering, security and autonomous vehicles, although there is a growing use of leading hedge funds using computer vision techniques to identify investment targets as well. Start-ups in this space - particularly in the NYC, Boston and Silicon Valley markets - are constantly being founded and the computer vision industry is rapidly growing in popularity

Responsibilities with this job: In its simplest terms, the computer vision engineer will be building algorithms to analyze images and video, which in turn can be utilized in multiple ways. For example, in the security camera space the algorithms will be used to track and monitor movement and recognize faces, while within virtual reality computer vision engineers will build algorithms to track hand movement, for example, again differing from a hedge fund using computer vision to analyze satellite imagery to identify the activity at investment target buildings.

Required background for this job: Typically, a PhD is generally required for these types of opportunities, and top areas of study would include but are not limited to computer science, mathematics, image processing, physics, and even a specific computer vision course. That said, many businesses are looking at candidates with a Master’s degree in a relevant field.

Skills requires for this job (technical, business and personal): Regarding technical skills, most computer vision engineers would need to be strong coders in either C++, C or Python, and exposure to deep learning technologies such as Caffe, TensorFlow and Torch would be a huge bonus. Experience with or knowledge of tools such as OpenCV are also necessary in this field.

On a personal level, computer vision engineers will be highly intelligent and motivated individuals, with an innate willingness to learn new technologies and always striving to be at the cutting edge of their field. Heavy research into computer vision is also a plus, with many employers looking at citations and specific research projects when hiring.

Compensation potential for this job: An entry level, PhD/Master’s graduate would realistically expect a base salary of around $120,000 to $130,000 in New York, rising to around $160,000 to $180,000 after 5-6 years. Highly experienced candidates can realistically expect $200,000 to $250,000 in the current New York City job market.

Success in this role defined by: Success in this role will be defined depending on the industry or business. For example, in a hedge fun, if the individual is building algorithms that successfully provide information that results in large financial gain from an investment you would consider that a job well done. Similarly, If they were able to build a cutting edge platform that helps a car to autonomously drive itself than that would be deemed successful in that industry.

Advancement opportunities for this job: The progression of computer vision engineers can differ drastically form business to business. Naturally, an individual could move into a principal level role before heading up a dedicated computer vision function, or they may end up leading a cross-functional robotics group that would incorporate multiple different functions. The individual would also be well placed to begin their own start-up in this space, as computer vision can be applied in so many various ways.

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