Why are AI prompt engineers in demand?

Why are AI prompt engineers in such high demand? (Image – Shutterstock)

AI prompt engineers: The most wanted job in tech

  • AI prompt engineers design, develop, and refine generative AI text prompts for various applications.
  • There are many courses available for prompt engineering today
  • Generative AI tools provide the best results with the right prompt. 

While artificial intelligence (AI) is about automating tasks and making work more straightforward, many still struggle to understand how to use the technology properly. Generative AI tools, which have seen enormously broad adoption in businesses around the world, can enhance productivity.

However, to get the most out of the technology, it has to be appropriately used by the organization. Large language models (LLMs) are advanced conversation partners that use natural language processing (NLP) to understand and generate human-like text. That is the basis of generative AI.

Remember MS-DOS? You needed to prompt the command correctly to access a particular program. In some way, that’s precisely where some see generative AI being at this point. While any prompt will generate a reply, the real question is, can companies afford to spend much time to get the correct information from the AI?

Take OpenAI’s ChatGPT, for example. To get a reply to a query, a user would need to prompt ChatGPT with a question or instructions. While ChatGPT can provide an answer, it may not be the desired result the user is seeking.

This is where prompt engineering comes in. The Guardian defines prompt engineering as a technique for effectively communicating with generative AI models. AI prompt engineering is the process of structuring text (commands or instructions) that can be interpreted and understood by a generative AI model. Generative AI models provide results based on their prompts. A weak or incomplete prompt may not give the desired outcome and require more attempts at refining the prompt.

Just as with any technology, without guidance or instructions, it will not know what it is required to do. Even robots need instructions on their work or are programmed to work based on the instructions given. For generative AI tools, without prompt engineering, the technology would not be able to work as it should.

Sam Altman defined the importance of AI prompt engineers.

A Tweet by OpenAI’s Sam Altman on prompt engineering.

The need for AI prompt engineers

Businesses worldwide that have invested in generative AI tools now realize that prompting the technology is not as easy as it seems. While any employee can type out a prompt, to get the best results, a company would need to have a prompt expert. As such, the role of AI prompt engineer has quickly evolved into being.

AI prompt engineers are focused on and responsible for working with cross-functional teams to design prompts for generative AI, discuss product development, and identify the uses of AI tools. Put simply, AI prompt engineers design, develop, and refine generative AI text prompts for various applications.

While the role sounds simple, finding the right AI prompt engineers is a challenge for most organizations today. Most companies realize the need to hire AI prompt engineers after heavily investing in generative AI tools but still failing to get the most value out of their investment.

According to a study by Workyard, AI prompt engineers top the list of the most in-demand jobs in tech today. The list is based on evaluating data from Google searches, LinkedIn, and Indeed job openings and the number of professionals currently available.

AI prompt engineers are in high demand.

AI prompt engineers are in high demand. (Image – Shutterstock)

Becoming an AI prompt engineer

From OpenAI to Stanford University, many online courses are available today on how to become an AI prompt engineer. However, most organizations feel that soft skills are more critical to the role than technical skills.

This includes communication and organizational skills. Communication skills are the most important, as the role involves constantly communicating with the AI and with teams. An AI prompt engineer must be precise and clear in their prompts. It’s all about perfecting the details and depth of each prompt to get the best result.

Another critical skill is subject matter expertise. For example, an AI prompt engineer in a healthcare facility using AI would need to understand health jargon to ensure a smooth process.

In a LinkedIn post, Vaikuntan Rajaratnam, hand surgeon, medical educator, and instructional designer, explained that prompt engineering in healthcare would mean designing prompts that help AI models generate differential diagnoses, propose treatment options, or even draft patient communication materials.

“Prompt engineering represents a fascinating convergence of technology and healthcare, offering new avenues for enhanced care delivery. As with any technological advancement, the key to effective integration lies in education, skill development, and ethical considerations. Healthcare professionals, armed with the dual expertise of their domain and AI capabilities, can act as the much-needed bridge between technological possibility and ethical effective care delivery,” said Rajaratnam.

An overview of prompt engineering as a flow chart. Source: Ravit Jain

So you think you want to be an AI prompt engineer?
(Source: @RavitJain)

Will technology perfect prompt engineering?

As the demand for AI prompt engineers increases, technology is also evolving a way of solving the problem. A report by ZDNet highlighted that Google’s DeepMind unit researchers have created a program called OPRO. OPRO makes LLM try different prompts until they reach one that gets closest to solving a task. Put simply, it automates the trial-and-error process of prompting.

In a research paper, the team stated that OPRO is expected to optimize anything with a language model. This makes the program produce better answers, which not only saves time for businesses but also could reduce the reliance on AI prompt engineers in the future.

Thankfully as far as AI prompt engineers are concerned, this macine-led obsolescence may take some time to deliver, so for now, the role of AI prompt engineers remains firmly in demand, with some companies offering up to US$300k in salary.