How to Learn Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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by Bethanny Parker

Published March 24, 2022

Reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

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According to Elon Musk, artificial intelligence will be "smarter" than humans by 2025. Whether you find that thought exciting or scary, one thing is for sure — artificial intelligence is here to stay.

Artificial intelligence is now a part of our everyday lives. It drives online shopping algorithms, web searches, and digital personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. Our cars contain AI-powered safety functions, and smart thermostats automatically adjust the temperature in our homes to save energy.

ZipRecruiter expects job opportunities for AI careers to explode over the next few decades as AI takes over more tasks. To prepare for this future growth, now may be a good time to learn about artificial intelligence and pursue an AI career.

You can learn artificial intelligence by taking an online course or enrolling in a data science bootcamp. Many bootcamps provide an introduction to machine learning. Machine learning is a tool used by AI that involves exposing an algorithm to a large amount of data. It allows the AI to learn faster.

AI courses typically cover machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks. Students may create simple chatbots or virtual assistants and publish them on a webpage. Technologies used often include Python, IBM's Watson AI services, OpenCV, and APIs. Data science bootcamps usually focus on the machine learning aspect of AI.

How to Learn AI

In addition to online courses and data science bootcamps, you can also learn artificial intelligence through a bachelor's or master's program in artificial intelligence. These programs include a strong background in computer science and provide a much broader education than an online course or a bootcamp.

However, individual courses and bootcamps focus exclusively on the skills you need to learn to qualify for a career in AI. You do not have to take general education courses, such as history and psychology. This guide focuses on online courses and bootcamps.

Online Courses

Online courses have been increasing in popularity in recent years, and there are many artificial intelligence courses to choose from. These courses range in price from free to thousands of dollars. The time commitment also varies. Many online courses offer flexible scheduling to fit around your work schedule. Individual courses also tend to be cheaper than bootcamps, offering a relatively affordable alternative to students.

AI Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are intensive courses that prepare students for an entry-level career in a certain discipline. Coding bootcamps may focus on areas like software development, cybersecurity, and data science. The bootcamp experience may feature full-time, part-time, or self-paced learning options and be delivered online or in person.

While bootcamps do not generally focus specifically on artificial intelligence, many data science and data analytics bootcamps offer an introduction to machine learning as part of the curriculum. In these programs, students learn how to apply machine learning algorithms in practical situations.

Pros and Cons

Online AI courses may be better for some students, while bootcamps are better for others. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of online courses vs. bootcamps to help you decide which option suits your needs.

Pros and Cons of Online Courses vs. Bootcamps
Pros Cons
Online Courses
  • Online courses typically provide more self-paced and flexible learning options.
  • Online courses are usually relatively inexpensive or free.
  • Online courses may have limited opportunities to interact with professors or tutors, or none at all.
  • Online courses do not usually offer career services.
Bootcamps
  • Bootcamps almost always offer career services and job assistance to students.
  • Bootcamps often incorporate teaching programming languages, such as Python or Java, into the curriculum.

Best AI Bootcamps

BrainStation

Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options
Start For Free

BrainStation offers an online data science course that includes a unit on machine learning. The other three units in the course cover data science foundations: data cleaning, visualization and analysis, and statistics and modeling. The machine learning section covers Python, pandas, NumPy, Scikit-learn, and SciPy. Students also learn about data classification models, decision trees, and model evaluation.

The data science bootcamp is currently offered online only. Students take classes one day a week for five or 10 weeks, depending on the length of the sessions.

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Metis

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $7,000
  • Technical Disciplines: Data Analytics, Data Science
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Self Paced

Accepts GI Bill
Career Services

Metis offers a project-based data science bootcamp that is led by experts in the data science field. Students complete five projects throughout the course of the program. This bootcamp takes 10 weeks (full-time study) or 19 weeks (part-time study) to complete. The part-time bootcamp offers flexible scheduling.

This five-module bootcamp contains two modules related to artificial intelligence. There is a module on machine learning classification and one on NLP and unsupervised learning.

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Springboard

  • Location: Remote
  • Programs Starting At: $11,900
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Data Science, Software Engineering, UX/UI Design
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Self Paced

Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options
Job Guarantee

Springboard offers a six-month online data science bootcamp with a job guarantee. This career-focused bootcamp offers live, one-on-one mentorship to help you succeed. Springboard graduates have been hired by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.

Students enrolled in the data science bootcamp develop Python, data wrangling, and software engineering skills. There is also a section covering machine learning that includes supervised and unsupervised algorithms, linear and logistic regression, and decision trees. Students complete 14 projects during the bootcamp.

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The Data Incubator

  • Location: Remote, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.
  • Programs Starting At: $10,000
  • Technical Disciplines: Data Analytics, Data Science
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Career Services
Start For Free

The Data Incubator offers an eight-week bootcamp that covers data science essentials. This eight-week bootcamp gives students a solid foundation in data science principles. Students attend two-hour classes twice a week. They can also attend office hours throughout the week.

The data science essentials program requires elementary programming knowledge and familiarity with statistics. The course teaches object-oriented programming, NumPy, pandas, data visualization, and the Scikit-learn API. It also includes an introduction to machine learning.

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The University of Texas at Austin

  • Location: Remote, Austin
  • Programs Starting At: $12,495
  • Technical Disciplines: Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, UX/UI Design, Web Development
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options

The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business offers an online data analytics bootcamp that takes 24 weeks to complete. This part-time program immerses students in practical projects that give them hands-on experience. The curriculum covers Excel, Python, SQL, statistics, machine learning, and more.

During the bootcamp, students build portfolios to help showcase their work. They learn front-end web visualization, Tableau, and big data analytics with Hadoop.

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Get the Qualities You Want in a Bootcamp

We use icons to make browsing bootcamps easy for you. Use this breakdown to quickly identify program qualities you are looking for.

Accepts GI Bill®

Accepts the GI Bill® as funding for tuition.

Also Available In Person

This online bootcamp also offers in-person options.

Career Services

Offers career services to help you land your dream job after graduation.

CIRR Member

This bootcamp is a current member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. Learn more at cirr.org.

Evening & Weekend Options

Bootcamps are offered during convenient evening and weekend hours.

Job Guarantee

Employment is guaranteed as soon as you finish your bootcamp.

Money-Back Guarantee

Tuition is refunded if you don't land a job within a given time frame after graduation. Visit the bootcamp website for terms and conditions.

Start for Free

No deposit is required to get started. Begin your bootcamp for $0.

Methodology

Bootcamp Ranking Guidelines

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

Our Methodology

The Bootcamp Team at BestColleges has collected data for over 150 bootcamps to help you find the best bootcamp.

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

At this time, our recommendation round-ups feature only immersive bootcamps designed to prepare students for job placement upon graduation.

To be included on our lists, bootcamps must meet the following criteria:

  • Must offer at least one bootcamp in the United States.
  • Must offer at least one bootcamp that is a minimum of 4 weeks long.
  • Must require at least 15 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is part time.
  • Must encourage at least 10 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is self-paced.

Pricing disclosure: The prices listed were collected from product websites in 2022. However, given the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the tech space, prices are subject to change throughout the year. To get the most up-to-date information about pricing, contact providers directly.

Methodology for Recommending Cheap Bootcamps:

  • The bootcamp must meet all of the general criteria listed above.
  • The bootcamp must cost less than $8,000 if it is offered full time, and less than $5,000 if it is offered part time. These numbers were chosen based on data collected by BestColleges in 2020 that determined the average cost of a coding bootcamp is $13,580.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs

Artificial intelligence is being incorporated into many types of products. As a result, AI jobs can be found in various industries — not just tech jobs. According to Indeed, some of the most in-demand AI jobs are machine learning engineer (344% increase in job postings from 2015-2018), robotics engineer (128% increase), computer vision engineer (116% increase), and data scientist (78% increase). The average base salaries for these positions — according to Payscale as of March 2022 — are listed below.

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning AI

Is AI easy to learn?

Learning AI is difficult for many students, especially those who do not have a computer science or programming background. However, it may be well worth the effort required to learn it. The demand for AI professionals will likely increase as more and more companies start designing products that use AI.

If you do not have any computer programming experience, make sure you look for courses or bootcamps designed for beginners. It might even be a good idea to take a beginning programming course before you start learning about artificial intelligence.

Does AI require coding?

While it is possible to start learning AI without learning how to code, you may not get far without coding skills. It may be beneficial to learn to code in Python before learning artificial intelligence. The Python programming language is frequently used in AI programming.

AI also requires a strong foundation in math, statistics, and data structures. A good AI course covers all of these topics, as well as programming. You'll also need to understand and program algorithms to develop a useful AI.

Where can I learn AI for free?

Most of the Coursera, edX, and Google courses mentioned earlier in this guide are free. Start with beginner courses, such as Coursera's AI foundations for everyone, and move up to intermediate and advanced level courses as your skills improve. There are many free courses out there.

You can even start working toward a professional certificate, such as the IBM AI Engineering Professional Certificate, for free. There is a seven-day free trial for this course. After that, you'll need to pay $49/month to continue.

What is the best way to learn AI?

There is no one "best" way to learn AI. Some people learn quickly and easily from online courses, while others need guidance from a teacher. If you are an independent learner, you may do well with the free courses on Coursera and edX. One advantage of trying free courses is that if you do not like one, you can stop and find another one to try.

If you think you will need help from a teacher, a bootcamp might be a better option for you. Some bootcamps, such as the Springboard data science bootcamp profiled above, even provide mentors to help you through your classes.

What is the best AI bootcamp?

All of the bootcamps profiled in this guide offer quality programs that cover AI basics, such as machine learning and Python. Some are more intensive than others and require many more hours of instruction. You will probably get more out of a bootcamp that requires you to spend more time on the subject.

You should consider the cost of the bootcamp, as well. There can be large variations in price from one bootcamp to another. The most expensive bootcamp is not necessarily the best.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/index.asp


Feature Image: Yuichiro Chino / Moment / Getty Images

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