Machine Learning Engineer Salary by Job Level & Top Companies

Machine learning (ML) engineer salaries rank among the top in the tech industry and with good reason. The work of machine learning engineers animates today’s smart technologies such as self-driving vehicles and facial recognition. CIOs need ML engineers to train and optimize the machine learning models that influence strategic business decisions.

What is a machine learning engineer?

A machine learning engineer creates programs, learning models, and algorithms that enable computers to learn with varying degrees of human intervention. For instance, machine learning engineers develop algorithms that place your company’s ad in front of the right prospects on social media.

Machine learning engineers are typically part of an organization’s data science and/or DevOps team. They are responsible for scaling machine learning models for software development purposes. In this way, machine learning engineers serve as a bridge between data scientists and software developers. 

Also read: AI vs ML: What Are Their Differences and Impacts? 

How much does the average machine learning engineer in the US make?

The average annual salary for a machine learning engineer working in the US is between $111,000 and $145,000 USD. 

The actual salary varies widely depending on where the engineer is in their career. Experience level is sometimes reflected in the job title, such as entry-level, staff, or senior machine learning engineer. 

TitleAverage salary
range in USD
Entry-level
Machine Learning Engineer
80-127k
Staff Machine Learning Engineer140-356k
Senior Machine Learning Engineer128k

Entry-level machine learning engineer salary

As the title suggests, entry-level machine learning engineers are just starting out. They have as much as one year of experience if any at all. Organizations typically require a graduate degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or a related field. 

Entry-level machine learning salaries range from $79,998 to $127,336 USD. 

Staff machine learning engineer salary

With as little as two years of experience, staff machine learning engineers typically earn between $140,000 and as high as $356,000 USD on average. However, staff machine learning engineers typically have between two and five years of experience.

Staff machine learning engineers typically possess a graduate degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or a related field.

Inclusion of the word “staff” in their title indicates their involvement in managing and communicating with others in the organization. For instance, they sometimes work more closely with management to communicate the value, viability, and progress of data science or software development projects. They are also sometimes responsible for managing and mentoring other engineers, especially junior engineers. 

Senior machine learning engineer salary

With at least five years of experience under their belt, a senior machine learning engineer earns an average of $127,877 USD in the US. 

Senior machine learning engineers usually hold a master’s degree or PhD in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or a related equivalent field. 

Notable machine learning engineer salaries at top companies

Top companies offer comparable average salaries to their machine learning engineers. Current and aspiring engineers can expect to earn six figures in machine learning roles. The tech giants offer well above the average salary range.

CompanyAverage annual salary in USD
Amazon150k
Apple194k
Google170k
Meta174k

Amazon

The average annual salary of a machine learning engineer at Amazon is $150,000 USD and requires knowledge of AWS, Spark, and Python.

To stand out as a competitive job candidate, check out Udacity’s course for becoming a machine learning engineer for AWS.

Apple

Apple pays higher in the range of salaries. Machine learning engineers can expect to earn on average $193,584 USD each year at Apple. 

For beginners who want to work for Apple, Udacity offers a free course on Core ML which is a machine learning framework used on Apple products. The course helps learners work with Core ML to integrate learning models into applications that run on iOS.

Google

At Google, the average annual machine learning engineer salary is $170,000 USD.

Obtaining a Google Cloud Machine Learning Engineer Professional Certificate is a great way to set yourself apart from other machine learning engineer job applicants. To increase your chances of success, Coursera offers a prep course.

Meta

Meta compensates its machine learning engineers an average of $174,000 USD in annual salary.

What is the maximum salary of a machine learning engineer?

Among the ranges found in our research, $821,000 USD is the highest salary we came across. Top paying cities for machine learning engineers include:

  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Seattle

To maximize your earning potential as a machine learning engineer, take advantage of the following learning and networking opportunities:

Machine learning engineer responsibilities

A machine learning engineer is responsible for:

  • Creating the algorithms that computers use to learn on their own
  • Selecting and processing data to train models
  • Coding to keep models continuously running
  • Knowing which algorithms to deploy for what situations
  • Understanding how machine learning draws from and affects other departments, such as software development

In creating models and algorithms for computers, machine learning engineers collaborate with other teams, such as data scientists, data engineers, computer engineers, and developers. 

These responsibilities enable computers to solve complex problems and help humans make more intelligent decisions. 

How to become a machine learning engineer

There is no linear way to become a machine learning engineer, but Coursera offers an introductory machine learning course to get familiar with the basics. 

In addition, learning computer science, data science, and math concepts and skills below will certainly help:

  • Algorithms
  • Computability and complexity
  • Computer architecture
  • Data structures, modeling, and evaluation
  • Application of machine learning algorithms and libraries
  • Probability and statistics 
  • Programming languages, such as Python, R, and JavaScript

Among the most popular programming languages, Python is likely to be the most accessible language for beginners. EdX offers an introductory Python course to help get you started.

Udemy also offers a course on data structures and algorithms which equips learners with essential practice to help them ace coding interviews and land a job.

TechRepublic offers an array of training bundles that can help you kickstart your journey to become a machine learning engineer.

Find out the top desired skills for ML engineers in this video from TechRepublic:

Machine learning engineer salaries are some of the highest and hottest in tech right now. Starting with an entry-level role, within five to 10 years, machine learning engineers advance to staff machine learning and senior machine learning engineer roles.

With application in nearly every industry and sector, machine learning engineers are in high demand and will continue to be as companies turn to AI to solve the most complex problems. 

Since tech talent is harder to come by these days, this salary guide aids hiring managers in determining a competitive salary to attract top candidates.

Read next: The Ultimate Machine Learning Certification Guide

Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering IT strategy and trends, enterprise networking, and PM software for CIOInsight.com, enterprisenetworkingplanet.com, project-management.com, and technologyadvice.com. When she's not writing about technology trends, she's working out or spending time with family.

Latest Articles