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There’s a new kind of AI job. It pays six-figure salaries. And it doesn’t require a degree in computer engineering or coding.
Companies are looking for people to craft prompts that help train AI programs. These people are called prompt engineers. They work on generative artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT. This is AI that creates content, such as text, audio, video, and images, in response to a user’s request. Prompt engineers train AI to deliver better responses.
Anna Bernstein, a prompt engineer at Copy.ai, writes prompts and feeds them into AI tools. This helps the AI generate text, such as a blog post or email, with accurate information and proper tone. She doesn’t need to write code to do this. She simply types instructions.
When Bernstein joined Copy.ai in September 2021, “There [weren’t] many of us prompt engineers,” she says. “For a long time, it really felt like it was just me.” That was about a year before ChatGPT went viral for its ability to generate writing and answer questions. Prompt engineering is now one of the hottest tech jobs.
AI tools need training. At the moment, they provide results that are not always correct or appropriate. That’s why companies are looking for prompt engineers. A tech company called Anthropic is advertising salaries up to $375,000 for a “prompt engineer and librarian.” Applicants must “love solving puzzles.” In Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital is advertising for a prompt engineer, too.
Rob Lennon is an expert on the topic. He teaches people the skills needed for the job. As of April, about 2,000 students had taken his two online courses. “People are clamoring for this knowledge,” Lennon says.
Will It Last?
Some say the need for this job will burn out. Ethan Mollick is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s not clear that prompt engineering is going to matter long-term,” he says. “AI programs are getting better at anticipating what users need.”
The high salaries may not last either. “These are jobs that probably only 500 people could do right now,” Lennon says. “In six months, 50,000 people will be able to do that job. The value of this knowledge is greater today than it will be tomorrow.”