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Combine your science skills with AI and automation

AI + science

Skills in data science, AI and automation can supercharge your science career

Data science and artificial intelligence (AI) have transformed the way scientists conduct their research. What used to take weeks, months or years to analyse can now be done in days or even hours.

AI and data science have applications in every scientific field. For example, the Australian National Herbarium is digitising nearly a million plant specimens and analysing them through machine learning. CSIRO is using AI and data to predict the spread of bushfires. And IVF Australia is developing a system that can choose the embryo most likely to result in a pregnancy.

Transferable talent

Workers with AI skills are in huge demand. In Australia, just over 20% of startups say AI is relevant to what they do, and by 2030 we will need an extra 161,000 AI specialists. That’s a lot of jobs!

Jenny Vo, Data Epidemiologist

AI skills such as machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing are not only super useful in science careers, they can also be applied to just about any other industry. And given that people with AI skills make on average $111,000 a year, learning them could really pay off.

Epidemiologist Jenny Vo took advantage of her transferable skills to make a post-pandemic career change.

“As an epidemiologist, I guess my endgame was a pandemic. I just didn’t expect it to come so soon,” she says. “I actually had a bit of a crisis, like, ‘is that it?’.”

Jenny spotted an ad on LinkedIn for a data consultant role at AI consultancy firm Eliiza, where she now works. “I used to think that what I knew about data was only applicable to health, but I learnt that it’s applicable to many other areas. Plus, when you come from a different industry, you can offer another perspective.”

Skill up

There’s more than one way to combine your science studies with future- focused skills in AI and automation.

Double down: Combine a Bachelor of Science with a second degree in IT, computer science or engineering (software, robotics or automation).

Do it later: There are loads of specialist qualifications in AI, data science and machine learning at postgraduate level. Get the science knowledge first as an undergrad, then add the rest later.

DIY: Lots of tech specialists are self-taught, and plenty of employers respect that. Look for courses and tutorials online to get started.

It’s my specialty

Depending on your major, you could find yourself working anywhere from government to academia, a big global company or a tiny startup. The options are (almost) endless!

Here are some possibilities to get you started:

Chemistry: Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies such as CSL, GSK or startup Pending.AI.

Physics: Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, The Australian Defence Force and its contractors, or the Defence Science and Technology Group.

Health and biology: Medical research institutes and hospitals such as the Doherty Institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and CSIRO, or health-tech startups such as Harrison.

Environmental and earth sciences: The Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, mining companies or environmental departments within government.

Wild card: Don’t forget those transferable skills! You could work at Deloitte or PwC, in a consulting firm such as Eliiza or Intellify, or at a tech company like Microsoft or Amazon.

Start your career here

Science + data, AI & robotics study

  • Bachelor of Computer Science (Machine Learning) / Bachelor of Science, University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine), University of Western Australia
  • Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Advanced Computing (Honours) (Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning), Australian National University

VET courses

  • Advanced Diploma of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering
  • Certificate IV in Integrated Technologies (Robotics Control Systems)

Science + data, AI & robotics jobs

  • Data scientist $65K–$128K
  • Data analyst $54K–$102K
  • Machine learning engineer $59K–$137K*
  • *Salary info according to and

This article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Science. For more on STEM careers, subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up to our e-newsletter.


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