How to Hire AI Developers: Tips and Best Practices for Recruiters

How to Hire AI Developers: Tips and Best Practices

Finding AI developers in the modern job market isn’t quite as straightforward as finding a general developer. With a high demand and low supply around AI skills, you may need to take an inventive approach to actually find the talent you need.

Below, we’ll talk about how to find artificial intelligence developers and who should be involved in hiring them. We will also discuss their benefits for your business and why it is crucial for companies to start taking advantage of AI development now rather than later. We suggest that you also read this tech recruiter’s checklist.

In-demand AI Skills

AI skills are in high demand across all industries, and the use of AI is expected to increase in the coming decades. A recent report from The McKinsey Global Institute found that the need for data scientists and machine learners is growing an average of 33 percent annually. Those numbers are even more impressive in some specific fields: demand for machine learning engineers is expected to grow an average of 42 percent each year.

It is important to note that different skills will be in demand at different times. Healthcare and fintech are two industries that are investing heavily in machine learning, especially at a time when medical and personal data is becoming more valuable than ever. More industries will gain more use of AI in the future. For example, automation is expected to become a huge part of many industries, including manufacturing, transportation and government.

The following AI developer skills are in high demand across businesses from various industries:

  • AI Programming skills: Java, Python, C++, R, Scala.
  • Machine learning skills: Keras, MXNet, Theano, PyTorch, Numpy, SciPy.
  • NLP skills: spaCy, Apache OpenNLP, Stanford CoreNLP, NLTK, TensorFlow.
  • Data visualization skills: Plotly, Highcharts, Matplotlib, Ggplot, Seaborn.
  • Systems engineering skills: Ansible, Chef, Docker.

Demand for AI Development Professionals

The demand for developers of artificial intelligence software is expected to increase 54% over the next decade – that’s according to a survey of more than 7,000 tech pros, conducted by StackOverflow in early 2022. This is good news for software developers who are in high demand by firms with an appetite for AI. The survey shows that AI programmers must have strong development skills, including an understanding of problem-solving and computer science.

The demand for AI developers is expected to remain high into the 2020s, according to StackOverflow. While the survey only focused on software developers, there’s no doubt that AI would benefit from more human talent, including non-tech roles such as marketing and sales.

The United States leads the way in AI development, followed by China. But those roles will be split in the long term. According to the same Microsoft report, we’ll see a drop of 22 percent in U.S. jobs after the next decade.

The United States also leads in demand for AI developers, in part because so many of the best colleges and universities have program that teach data science or that specialize in AI. These top schools include Stanford, MIT and Berkeley, among others. That makes it easy for students to enter the industry after school.

How to Hire AI Developers

Hiring AI developers is one of the hottest topics on the market right now, but it’s a tricky endeavor. The science behind artificial intelligence and project management is still in its early stages, and technologies must be continuously updated to keep up with the ever-advancing world of machine learning. A company’s success or failure depends heavily on who they hire.

Here are four steps you can take to propel your company forward and help you land an AI developer that will be a driving force for your business:

Step 1. Talk to Your IT Leader

The technical leader of your AI project is the best person to chat with about tech staffing needs. If this professional isn’t involved, he/she should be brought onboard as soon as possible, because this is a project that needs to be executed on a tight deadline.

Here are 5 questions you want to get answered by your project’s IT leader:

  1. What skills does the candidate need to have? This can be a mix of hard skills, like Python and TensorFlow, as well as soft skills that reflect the candidate’s creativity and ability to collaborate with others.
  2. When do you need the candidate to join the team? In some projects, the candidate may need to come on board at day 1. In other scenarios, this may be a more gradual process, and it could take several weeks for the candidate to get up to speed with your field of interest.
  3. What conditions will the candidate be asked to meet? Most of the time, this means that the candidate must have significant experience in AI fields (Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, Speech Recognition, Computer Vision) before being asked to work on your project.
  4. What levels of experience and seniority should the candidate have? The average project may be a little less demanding on the candidate’s level of experience and knowledge than, say, a cutting-edge AI startup.
  5. What is your budget for the role? Note that you may have to start at the bare minimum and scale up as needed. It’s also critical to outline any restrictions on the budget for this role and make sure that your team is onboard with these restrictions before proceeding with hiring.

Step 2. Launch Your Recruiting Campaign

Now that you have the requirements and budget for the role, it’s time to start planning your initial AI developer hiring campaign.

Here are some steps that you will want to take:

  1. Start by posting a job ad on LinkedIn as well as job search sites, like Monster, TheLadders and Indeed. This will help you to create a wider candidate pool and make you more accessible to AI developers from your target regions. Of course, don’t forget to post the job opening on your company’s website and social profiles.
  2. Recruit good candidates from within your in-house IT teams, if your company is big enough and you have a large group of AI professionals who can be relocated between your company’s projects. This choice can be good for you if you have solid policies for employee training, retention and growth in place.
  3. Consider hiring freelance AI developers if this strategy aligns with your project’s staffing needs. Portals like Upwork, Freelancer and Toptal can help you find candidates with good background and expertise in artificial intelligence, NLP and machine learning. However, you’ll have to track down quite a few of these freelancers to find one who is willing and able to fit your specific needs.
  4. Work with your talent delivery team to set up the ideal screening process for your AI development project. This will help you easily identify candidates who have the required skill sets and expertise, while also ensuring that they can actually fit within your budget.
  5. Then, begin to narrow down the candidates pool by asking these questions:
    • Do you have a portfolio of your work? If yes, where can I see it?
    • Can you explain a complex AI-related concept using your own words? For instance, machine learning, neural networks or deep learning… Please provide an example.
    • What is your approach to working on AI problems? Provide an example.

Also, you will want to chat with the candidates about their background, talents and experience as well as explain what you would need from them on the project. This could be anything from a portfolio of AI projects to an online quiz about their unique skills to determine if they are truly the best candidate for the job.

Step 3. Have a Vetted List of Tech Staffing Vendors

There are many AI talent sourcing companies that can provide you with the ability to find and hire AI engineers. They may also have staff-rating tools to help you filter through candidates, so that you can hire the best AI developer available.

Some of these outstaffing agencies also have a certification and vetting process for their clients and tech managers to make sure they are hiring the best AI developers in your field. They’ll offer various candidates including local, nearshore and offshore developers to help make your IT hiring process more efficient and less onerous.

Demand for AI Development Professionals

Step 4. Make Your Selection & Close the Deal

Once you’ve identified the best candidates for your AI project, it’s time to get things going. Contact your selected candidate to outline the hiring process and, if possible, schedule an in-office interview with your IT leader. This will help you to explain exactly what you’re looking for in a developer and let them know if this project is something they would be interested in getting involved with. Then, you can carefully make your selection.

Besides, make sure to have a detailed contract in place before hiring your new AI developer. This should include the payment scheme, term of the agreement and list any required deliverables. These are just some of the clauses that should be part of this AI developer contract:

  • Hiring details (salary, start date, industry)
  • Performance plan (objectives, metrics and results)
  • Termination clause (defaults or breach)
  • Non-compete or no solicitation of employees clause. You can also establish a minimum notice period.
  • Confidentiality agreement (for specific projects, as well as for time and budget)
  • Dispute resolution clause (if there’s going to be some sort of legal issue)

Legal jargon aside, you can then proceed to hiring your new AI developer. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and what the terms of the deal are before you go into serious negotiations. Avoid taking any unneeded risks and make sure that your new developer will be happy with what they’re getting henceforth.

FAQ About Hiring AI Developers

1. How Much does It Cost to Hire a Talented AI Developer?

If you compare the costs of hiring AI developers with other IT skills and titles, you’ll find that artificial intelligence (including GO, Python, C++, Scala, and Java skills) is a relatively expensive field. This means that both your budget and time requirements are likely going to be higher than for some other IT positions.

The same can be said about the pay for freelance experts in this field as well. Some analysts predict that AI developers in the United States will be paid even more in the coming years, but right now, annual salaries still seem to fall between $91,000 and $110,000 in July 2022, according to

However, Glassdoor reports that  the starting yearly salary for an AI software engineer is about $121k. And salaries can reach $147k per year after eleven years of experience. That’s the median salary for software engineers who focus on machine learning and AI technologies.

You should take into account the total cost of hiring a new engineer and factor in things like the hourly rates, benefits, relocation costs and time off. If you’re hiring a junior-level individual for a one-year contract, look at the average pay for that level in your local market.

If you’re looking to hire an individual for full-time employment for four years, look at what senior engineers are receiving in their field of expertise within your local region.

When it comes to benefits and perks, you want to understand the demands of your candidate. They may be looking for a flexible work schedule, free lunch in the workplace or a certain level of pay. These things should factor into your budget when looking to hire a new AI developer.

When it comes to relocation, you may want to ask your candidate what he/she expects from relocation. Some candidates may be interested in a moving allowance, others aren’t so sure about these kinds of expenses and are willing to sacrifice it. You’ll want to discuss this matter with your candidate before finalizing the hiring cost & date — especially if you intend on moving the individual into your office space.

2. What Core Skills Are Required for AI Developers?

You’ll want to look for individuals that are familiar with the latest development trends within the artificial intelligence domain, particularly machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, deep learning, and data science.

Many AI developers will be able to navigate data structures, algorithms and mathematical models. You’ll want a candidate that can write both long-term functions, short-term pieces of code and deliverable reports.

3. Where to Hire AI Developers on the Web?

Social media and networking sites, including:

  • LinkedIn: The professional network that’s most frequently used by recruiters. LinkedIn is a great place to start your hunt. If you know a specific candidate, search their name and try connecting with them directly. If you don’t know anyone, consider posting in one of the generic groups—like ‘Technology’ or ‘Developer Groups’—or starting your own group and inviting people who might be interested in joining it.
  • AngelList: This platform offers job listings for companies like AirBnb and Uber as well as positions at smaller startups.
  • Quora: A content-sharing platform where professionals with similar interests can share information about topics ranging from machine learning to blockchain technology.
  • StackOverflow: A question-and-answer site for programmers where you can ask questions about coding issues or post answers if you’re an expert on a given topic.
  • Meetup: This site provides a listing of various groups that meet up in person to discuss and learn about specific topics, including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Job boards. There are websites like Indeed, Glassdoor and Monster that list open positions across the country, many of which don’t require any prerequisites beyond a good work history. You may be able to save time by searching through these listings directly instead of going through a third-party company’s website or application process. In addition, there are niche sites like Github Jobs and Reddit Jobs that list openings with companies known for using AI technology (like Adobe).

Partner with outstaffing agencies such as Intersog, which provides technical staffing services including specialized roles like Big Data Analytics Architects & Business Analysts who have experience working with large data sets and predictive analytics toolsets such as Hadoop/Spark frameworks.

Job marketplaces such as Upwork, Toptal, Topcoder and Guru. These sites allow you to browse through hundreds of freelancers’ profiles, request quotes from several at once (allowing you to compare prices), and even hire them directly from their profile page.

One last thing to keep in mind when hiring AI developers is that you should be willing to start small. Most companies don’t need a full-time, in-house specialist for their first ventures into machine learning – and if this is your case, you should probably consider outsourcing some of the tasks or looking into other ways of finding an artificial intelligence engineer.


Hiring AI developers and engineers is not an easy task. You’ll want to consider the salary range and benefits you’re willing to pay for, as well as the skills and experience you’re looking for in your candidate. You should also take into account things like travel and relocation expenses, software licenses, and any other miscellaneous costs that a new hire could incur.

Jack Grabovski

Jack is a project manager in the field of finance. He is responsible for controlling the various phases of a project from start to finish and coordinating the team's efforts. Jack was born in Ukraine and is currently working for a Polish company.