AI-roles are highest-paid in tech

Data suggests that tech workers with AI skills will earn around a third more than those without, and double the average UK salary.

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Helena Young

The scramble to recruit AI talent is driving up salaries in the sector, new research shows, highlighting the growing importance of AI in the modern economy.

Analysis by AIPRM, an AI-powered Chrome extension, compared average entry-level salaries across various tech roles. Their findings reveal that employees with AI expertise can expect to earn an average of £20,518 more compared to their non-AI counterparts. Tech workers with AI skills earn more than double the UK average salary, according to the study.

Separate research by has shown that the majority of UK businesses are likely to bring in new AI talent this year. The AIPRM data suggests these firms may need to carefully consider how their recruitment efforts will impact staffing budgets.

Industries fork out for AI forerunners

Many industries have placed their bets on AI to supercharge growth this year. Their plans are bad news for careers that are not AI-proof, such as customer service agents. Last year, the CEO of IBM Technologies predicted that up to 30% of these roles will be automated. 

But, while the AI rollout makes some workers redundant, it has also made those with expertise in the field more valuable. As a result, AI skilled workers are now the highest-paid specialists in the tech sector as businesses scramble to curry their favour.

The AIPRM data finds that tech workers could boost their salaries by 35.8%, on average, if they switch to an AI role this year.

Tech jobs that don’t require AI skills boast a (still impressive) average salary of £57,263. But vacancies that asked for AI skills in the job description paid a median salary of £77,781 a year. This is more than double the annual earnings for the average UK worker.

Deep learning leads to big earnings

The research also shows that deep learning roles are most in demand. Wages for deep learning employees have now surpassed another field in AI: machine learning. 

Those skilled in machine learning can still expect to earn a comfortable salary of around £68,039 on average. Still, moving into a deep learning-based role could net workers £84,063 a year, an increase of 23.6%.

Deep learning is more complex than traditional machine learning methods, and involves training computers to think like human brains. It has paved the way for innovative startups such as Wayve, a UK-based unicorn that is developing self-driving cars for the future.

Tech workers don’t need to study for a masters degree in deep learning to get a pay boost, however. They just need to learn a new language.

AIRMP also found that workers who understand the common coding language, SQL (Structured Query Language) will earn around £10,736 if they teach themselves Python instead, thanks to there being a limited number of Python-coding experts in the UK.

Firms ramp up AI hiring efforts

Tools like ChatGPT and Gemini Advanced are revolutionising the way we work. Their positive impacts on productivity have encouraged many small businesses to invest in AI, arguably earlier-than-expected.

At the end of last year, Startups surveyed 546 business owners about their plans for the year ahead to see how many had AI on their radar. 

When asked about hiring plans, 51% said they were likely to recruit an AI specialist in 2024 in order to leverage the technology’s benefits and remain competitive in today’s business environment. Unsurprisingly, tech firms were most likely to hire an AI expert.

The firms that were not ready to embrace AI were also 16x more likely to express pessimism about the future, suggesting that endorsing AI could be key to company success this year.

In their eagerness to engage with new technology, however, employers must stay alert to the rising payroll costs associated with adoption; particularly if salaries continue to increase.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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