Machine learning engineer

Computing and ICT
Create Discover

Career outlook for machine learning engineer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

Have you ever wondered how Youtube or Netflix make recommendations based on what you’ve watched? That’s machine learning! Machine learning means computers and machines take actions without being directed by humans each time.

A machine learning engineer is the person who teaches the computer or machine how to take these actions. They do this by writing code, algorithms and programmes to help the machine learn. For example, each time a user watches a video or searches for a product, more data is added to a site’s algorithm. As the amount of data grows, the algorithm’s recommendations to the user for other content become more accurate — all without any kind of human intervention.

What you’ll do?

  • Write and create machine learning algorithms and tools
  • Develop machine learning applications that operate computers or machines
  • Run machine learning tests and experiments on what you’ve created
  • Perform statistical analysis and fine-tuning based on test results
  • Train and retrain systems when necessary
  • Work with colleagues and stakeholders to understand business needs
  • Communicate and explain complex processes to people who have little or no knowledge of programming
  • Keep up to date with developments in the field

Working conditions


Working hours are usually 9am - 5pm but this could vary depending on where you work.


You would mainly be office based and you would most likely be working at a computer for long periods of time.


Some travel may be required, depending on the job.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

It might be useful to have a qualification in subjects such as:

  • Computer science
  • Software engineering
  • Data science
  • Machine learning

Many machine learning engineers will have degrees or even postgraduate qualifications (at master’s or PhD level) in the subjects listed above. Many students choose an Integrated Master’s course that provides a degree and postgraduate qualification in the same course over a 5-year period.  It is important that any course offers industry experience and placements to stay connected with the fast pace of changes in this sector.

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. In addition, they may also highlight additional subjects that would be useful. See individual institutions websites for specific entry information. 

Useful subjects would be:

  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Computer science

Helpful to have

While not all employers list specific qualification requirements they do ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that demonstrates a range of transferable skills.