Where should you move for a career in AI?

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Written by Asaël Häzaq on 17 June, 2024
The boom in generative AI continues to transform the global job market. Companies around the world, especially the tech giants known as GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook (Meta), Amazon, and Microsoft), are increasingly investing in artificial intelligence. Even sectors seemingly distant from the digital world, such as accounting and legal firms, are getting involved. What job opportunities can you seize abroad? What studies should you pursue to succeed in AI?

The best countries for AI careers

The top countries investing in AI are the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, India, South Korea, Germany, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These nations are also looking for skilled foreign professionals. The United States, driven by GAFAM and NATU (Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla, and Uber), aims to stay ahead in the AI race. Although AI may seem new to many, companies, including tech giants, have been working on this technology for years. Between 2013 and 2022, the US invested nearly $250 billion in AI.

A surge in AI investments

Following the US, China is ramping up its investments, with nearly $40 billion in 2024 alone and more than $100 billion by 2030. Canada, South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Singapore are investing between $1 billion and $8 billion. These investments are expected to increase, as seen in France, which invested nearly $2 billion in 2023, with an additional $430 million promised by President Macron on May 21 to train new AI specialists.

The UAE could be the future global leader in AI

The UAE is also a major player. Its "AI strategy," initiated in 2017, is gaining momentum. The UAE is determined to surpass its Saudi rival and become the global AI leader by 2034. However, competition between the Gulf countries is fierce. Saudi Arabia highlights its mega-investment in AI with the American venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz: $40 billion. In response, the UAE's AI-focused company G42 signed a lucrative $1.5 billion partnership with Microsoft in April 2024, bolstering its position and attracting foreign talent.

The UAE prides itself on being the first in the world to create a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence and aims to attract top foreign AI talent. The country leverages its expat-friendly image and favorable conditions (Golden visa, tax advantages) to outshine its competitors. Additionally, the UAE is strengthening its presence in the cryptocurrency market, where foreign talent is also in demand.

The UAE has also inaugurated the world's first university dedicated to AI research. In January 2024, Abu Dhabi established a Council for AI and Advanced Technologies to integrate AI into the state's research and investment strategies. Key positions in innovation and AI, such as cybersecurity specialists, developers, engineers, network engineers, CTOs, cloud architects, consultants, data analysts, data scientists, business analysts, and digital development directors, are multiplying, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

More international job opportunities in AI

These billion-dollar investments create numerous international job opportunities. Major companies like IBM Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce, NVIDIA, Alibaba Cloud, Nauto (AI for driver safety), Tempus (medical data analysis), Defined.ai (data analysis), and Socure (security, fraud prevention) are leaders in AI.

In France, the public employment agency France Travail lists over 3,500 job offers on its website. Most opportunities are in the Ile-de-France region, the west coast, the Lyon area, and the south. Positions such as R&D engineers in AI, AI engineers, developers, data scientists, project managers, consultants, and AI PhDs are in high demand. Canada's job portal, Guichet Canada, advertises positions for designers, analysts, and programmers in AI. Talent Montréal aims to be a new global AI hub by recruiting highly qualified researchers and academics, promising numerous innovative job opportunities.

Google Research seeks international foreign talent across its various activities. This approach is shared by Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, and Apple. Many industries are developing by integrating AI. Giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon are entering the global health market. Although Amazon Care, Amazon's online health service, ended in 2022, the company continues to invest heavily in E-health. In the aerospace sector, Boeing, Airbus, Emirates, Safran, and Dassault Aviation are creating more AI-related positions.

AI careers: Which sectors are hiring?

Beyond health, sectors like automotive, industry, insurance, marketing, aerospace, defense, security, banking, media, entertainment, tourism, environment, education, and retail are the most impacted by the rise of AI. These sectors offer numerous job opportunities for qualified foreign professionals.

AI is even making its way into unexpected areas, such as accounting firms and services, as well as banks and insurance companies. Legal professionals are also in demand. GAFAM companies are hiring legal experts to navigate the complex European market, which is more regulated than the US market, especially in health and data use.

What should you study for an international career in AI?

The required education depends on the sector in which you aim to work abroad. Aspiring data analysts should pursue studies in computer science, statistics, management, and/or marketing, specializing in areas like business management, data analysis, connected systems, or Big Data. Future cognitive engineers should aim for a degree in cognitive sciences, applied mathematics, or computer science, with training in human sciences.

There are also specific AI training programs: 3D development, probabilities, hardware architecture, AI system design, applied mathematics, IT law, data mining, and Big Data. Relevant degrees include a Bachelor's in Computer Science, Data Science, a Master's in AI Mathematics, or a Master's in Computer Science specializing in Machine Learning and Data Mining.

Legal professionals, lawyers, and other law experts can specialize in AI. The same applies to HR, recruitment, and health professionals. While AI significantly modifies some jobs, others are only marginally impacted. For an international career, it's ideal to focus on this field early on. Attending a university abroad or following an international program is a valuable addition to your CV and future job search.

The future of the international job market

The rapid advancement of AI raises ethical questions. How can we protect privacy, ensure proper data preservation, guarantee more transparency and respect copyright? New expert roles are being created to ensure AI compliance with national laws and assess its impact on individuals. Lawyers specializing in AI focus on challenging companies that violate regulations or threaten fundamental freedoms. Artists also oppose generative AI, accusing it of plagiarism.

For prospective expats, the global AI race is a double-edged sword. While AI creates and modifies many jobs, it also threatens or eliminates others. The tech industry's wave of layoffs continues. Nevertheless, major companies keep hiring internationally, but the turnover is faster. Twitch, Duolingo, Audible, Salesforce, Amazon, Google, and Discord have replaced some employees with AI. For instance, Duolingo laid off 10% of its staff early this year. Ironically, engineers often develop the very AI that replaces them.

Will job offers for foreign talents continue to grow? It depends on the type of job. Top positions for highly qualified professionals will likely remain available. However, jobs already competing with AI are at greater risk. Researchers advise future expats to continue their training to stay competitive. AI will keep transforming the international job market.