June 16, 2024

Software engineer.

Software engineer.
Photo: Nitat Termmee (Getty Images)

The AI boom and a growing talent shortage has resulted in companies paying AI software engineers a whole lot more than their non-AI counterparts.

As of April 2024, AI software engineers in the U.S. were paid a median salary of nearly $300,000, while other software technicians made about $100,000 less, according to data compiled by salary data website Levels.fyi. The pay gap that was already about 30% in mid-2022 has grown to almost 50%.

“It’s clear that companies value AI skills and are willing to pay a premium for them, no matter what job level you’re at,” wrote data scientist Alina Kolesnikova in the Levels.fyi report. That disparity is more pronounced at some companies. The robotaxi company Cruise, for example, pays AI engineers at the staff level a median of $680,500 — while their non-AI colleagues make $185,500 less, according to Levels.fyi.

And some companies are going to extreme lengths to snatch up the best and brightest AI engineers. That includes offering salaries of up to $1 million, acquiring startups, poaching talent from rivals. They’re also investing in training the next generation of AI workers: J.P. Morgan spent an undisclosed sum to create an AI research facility at Carnegie Mellon University, and Amazon has committed to training 2 million people across the globe to better understand generative artificial intelligence by 2025.

The hunger for AI-savvy recruits is only set to grow as Big Tech invests more and more resources into developing the world’s latest and greatest artificial intelligence technologies.

“As AI shakes up much of the industry, it also raises the bar for engineering compensation in 2024,” wrote Kolesnikova. “It’s a testament to where businesses are choosing to invest and where they aim to compete for top talent.”

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