How much do machine learning engineers make?

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Written By Zach Johnson

AI and tech enthusiast with a background in machine learning.

So, just how much do machine learning engineers make exactly? Machine learning engineers design, build, and deploy ML systems to solve complex problems in areas like computer vision, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. With demand for AI continuing to accelerate, ML engineering has become one of the hottest roles in tech.

An Overview of Machine Learning Engineers

A machine learning engineer requires a blend of software engineering, statistical modeling, and business strategy skills. Responsibilities include:

  • Developing and optimizing ML algorithms and neural network architectures
  • Building machine learning pipelines for data preprocessing, model training, evaluation, and deployment
  • Translating business requirements into technical implementations and models
  • Monitoring models in production and re-training as needed
  • Staying up-to-date on ML research and tools like TensorFlow, PyTorch, and scikit-learn

It’s a highly technical role requiring coding skills in languages like Python and experience with data science libraries. Math proficiency, especially in calculus, linear algebra, and statistics is also key.

Machine Learning Salaries by Experience Level

Machine learning engineer wages correlate strongly with years of experience in the field. Here are typical income ranges:

Entry Level (0-2 years)

  • Average Base Salary: $99,970
  • Range with Bonuses/Stocks: $115,000 – $140,000

Junior ML engineers usually have 0-2 years of full-time experience and are recent graduates with a master’s degree in computer science, statistics, or a related quantitative field. They work under the guidance of more experienced team members.

Mid Level (3-6 years)

  • Average Base Salary: $112,095
  • Range with Bonuses/Stocks: $135,000 – $170,000

Mid-level engineers can build ML systems with minimal supervision. They are fluent in Python data science stacks and have experience productionizing models.

Senior Level (7+ years)

  • Average Base Salary: $132,500
  • Range with Bonuses/Stocks: $160,000 – $200,000

Senior engineers are technical leaders that provide ML architecture and infrastructure guidance. They mentor junior team members and interface with product managers and executives.

Top Paying Cities

Location significantly impacts ML salaries. Here are some of the best-paying metro areas:

  • New York, NY: $187,155
  • Cupertino, CA: $180,428
  • San Francisco, CA: $177,583
  • Seattle, WA: $164,909
  • San Jose, CA: $161,223

Tech hubs with concentrations of top employers like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon pay the highest salaries.

Top Paying Companies

The highest ML engineer earnings are at major tech firms:

  • eBay: $327,152
  • Bain & Company: $285,556
  • NVIDIA: $222,349
  • Engtal: $221,891
  • Tapjoy: $220,933

Other leading companies include Apple, Uber, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Bloomberg, Capital One, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo.

How to Boost Your Salary

Here are some tips for earning a higher salary as a machine learning engineer:

  • Obtain a master’s degree in computer science or data science: Advanced technical degrees open up more senior roles.
  • Consider relocating: Your earning potential increases dramatically in major tech hubs.
  • Develop specialized expertise: Skills in cutting-edge techniques like natural language processing and reinforcement learning are in high demand.
  • Pursue leadership opportunities: Technical team lead and manager roles come with higher pay.
  • Work for a top tech company: FAANG companies pay the highest engineering salaries.
  • Negotiate salary and benefits: Research typical compensation at your experience level and negotiate.
  • Keep learning new skills: Employers reward engineers who continuously expand their skillsets.

Job Satisfaction

According to Payscale, 61% of ML engineers feel they are paid fairly compared to similar roles in their areas. The dynamic, rapidly evolving nature of the field and opportunity to solve impactful problems results in high job satisfaction.


With the continuing growth of AI and Big Data, talented ML engineers can command very lucrative salaries at leading technology companies in major US cities. Developing specialized expertise and obtaining an advanced technical degree are key steps towards advancing your career as a machine learning engineer.


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