Natural Language Processing Jobs

Natural Language Processing Jobs

What are Natural Language Processing jobs? What might someone in this field do for a career? This article explores the various types Natural Language Processing jobs that exist today.

Natural Language Processing or NLP is a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) dedicated to facilitating interactions between humans and machines through spoken or written language — with all its idiosyncrasies, idioms, and regional quirks.  

Natural language processing combines several disciplines such as linguistics, computer science, AI, and data sciences and has practical use cases spanning applications from grammar correction and predictive text to internet search engines, language translation, and the conversational interfaces powering chatbots and virtual assistants like Siri.

These applications are in a diverse range of industries. The use of NLP in commercial and institutional spheres enables organizations to improve their communications with the public, monitor attitudes to how their goods and services are being received, and improve the efficiency and economy of their operations. So anyone plotting a natural language processing career path is entering what’s currently a lucrative and expanding field. 

Education for NLP Jobs

A healthy grounding in linguistics, data science, and computer sciences is key to beginning a path towards a Natural Language Processing career. With this educational foundation and using a structured learning path, it’s possible to achieve professional-level training in Natural Language processing within seven months.

Some of the core disciplines that should be covered within this period include programming in Python, data presentation, statistics and analysis, and the study of decision tree algorithms. 

In the text-handling phase, key subjects include text mining, preprocessing, exploratory text analysis, computational linguistics, word vectors, and text representations in vector space.

At the more detailed analysis level, studies include deep learning, neural networks, optimization algorithms, and sequential language modeling.

Types of Natural Language Processing Jobs

Growth in the NLP market is currently being driven by the increased usage of smart devices and systems, the adoption of cloud-based technologies, and an expanding range of Natural Language Processing applications that promote user convenience and customer service. It’s estimated that the global NLP market will reach over $34 billion by 2025. And in 2021, Natural Language Processing is one of the seven most in-demand technology skills to master.

Natural Language processing jobs currently attract salaries in the US ranging from around $75,000 to $100,000 annually, on average. Designing and implementing machines and applications capable of learning the characteristic patterns of speech in human languages or translating spoken and written words into other languages requires many different Natural Language Processing jobs.

NLP Scientist

NLP scientists are primarily responsible for teaching machines how to understand the nuances of human language. This requires candidates to be fluent in the spelling, syntax, and grammar of at least one language — and more, preferably. Basic machine learning (ML) and data science skills are also a must.

Technical skills required for the job of NLP scientist include a familiarity with the programming languages and coding libraries most associated with Natural Language Processing. Among these are Python, NLTK, PyTorch, CoreNLP, TensorFlow, and spaCy.

NLP Engineer

Although the responsibilities of a Natural Language Processing Engineer or Language Engineer will vary depending on the industry they work for, NLP engineers are generally tasked with developing and designing language understanding systems and the effective deployment and implementation of text representation systems and techniques.

Companies will typically hire an NLP engineer to fabricate devices capable of understanding human language and completing specified actions, and/or creating computer systems and applications that can understand spoken human language, or analyze and generate output (including spoken words) in natural language. This work often deals with the understanding of natural languages, speech patterns, Natural Language Generation (NLG), and AI-assisted speech recognition.

It’s a demanding role, and NLP engineers require a strong understanding of text representation techniques, algorithms, and statistics. Natural Language Processing Engineers must also have the programming skills necessary to effectively design NLP software architecture using  Python, Java, and/or R. A familiarity with big data frameworks such as Spark and Hadoop, keen problem-solving capabilities, and good communication skills are also required. 

Many Natural Language Processing engineers originate from an academic background, having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, Science, Physics, or similar subject areas. Obtaining an NLP Certification from one of the many approved courses is another avenue of entry. In all cases, some experience in the industry, some experience in software engineering, and the ability to manage statistical analysis on large data sets are often job requirements.

Salaries for Natural Language Processing engineers in today’s market start at around $51,000 gross per annum, and the average salary in the field is approximately $72,000 gross per year. Senior NLP engineers can earn $110,000 or more, depending on the industry and their level of professional experience.

Natural Language Processing Researcher

Natural Language Processing techniques and technologies continue to evolve, and there’s plenty of scope in the Natural Language Processing job market for researchers and interns in various sectors. For instance, one recent Natural Language Processing job description sees Facebook on the lookout for Research Interns to join their Natural Language Processing teams in California and Washington.

The research work spans multiple areas in machine learning and Natural Language Processing, such as machine translation, deep learning, natural language understanding and generation, and neural networks. Candidates should possess or be on the road to getting a doctorate (Ph.D.) and have a strong interest in theoretical and empirical research for answering hard questions.

Most NLP research jobs are remote or have some Work From Home (WFH) or remote working component in the current climate.

NLP Freelance Jobs

Some organizations may not require the full-time presence of an NLP engineer, scientist, or researcher to help facilitate their human-to-machine language interaction applications. There’s a market in freelance Natural Language Processing professionals who charge for their services by the hour for cases like this. 

As of 2020, the average hourly rate for a freelance NLP engineer was around $88. Based on an eight-hour working day, this comes to a daily average of approximately $704.

Consulting NLP Professionals and Services

As we have observed, Natural Language Processing has applications in many areas, including chatbots, sentiment analysis, market intelligence gathering, text classification, language translation, and virtual assistance. These applications must be customized to fit the needs of particular industries and implementations.

For example, in the healthcare sector, Natural Language Processing has a role to play in the interpretation and management of Electronic Health Records (EHR), the summarization of physician’s notes for billing purposes, and facilitating the transfer of differently formatted medical records between various providers.

In the legal profession, NLP enables enhanced searching of records and documents, while sentiment analysis helps organizations generate actionable insights based on customer feedback in fields as diverse as finance and retail.

Again, many organizations may not be willing or able to maintain a dedicated Natural Language Processing staff presence and must therefore turn to external services for their NLP requirements.

Natural language processing consulting firms and individuals are filling these needs. It’s still something of a niche area, with only a limited number of practitioners and consultants focusing on a range of different areas. For example, some NLP consulting companies specialize in developing chatbots. 

Some consulting firms will offer a range of services. For example, they might provide sentiment analysis engines for incorporating your web or mobile application interfaces and integration with your social media or analytics departments. Or they might supply predictive text technology to enhance the usability of any text fields on your website or portal.

If you’re in the market for a Natural Language Processing consultant, you’ll need to perform some due diligence. It’s advisable to look for people with a Ph.D. in their relevant field of study. These tend to be applied researchers who can commit to solving a core problem rather than optimizing it for a Machine Learning algorithm.

The professional’s social media platform LinkedIn is an excellent place to start your search for candidates to interview for your shortlist.

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William Goddard

William Goddard

William Goddard is the founder and Chief Motivator at IT Chronicles. His passion for anything remotely associated with IT and the value it delivers to the business through people and technology is almost like a sickness. He gets it! And wants the world to understand the value of being a technology focused business in a technological world.