Is there a glass ceiling in ML* without a relevant academic pedigree/educational background?

Google Sirens
Jun 2 21 Comments

For senior-level roles (sorry, tier 3 data analyst making pie charts in Powerpoint for no-name business probably won't get paid mid-six figures, and therefore isn't under personal consideration.)

*: or other research-heavy areas
- e.g. AI and deep learning

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TOP 21 Comments
  • Twitter Oomnj
    Most people who don’t have data science experience do shitty ML or draw terrible conclusions. Fine as ML infra engineers though
    Jun 2 7
    • Google Sirens
      OP
      I'll take that as a no, sadly.
      Jun 2
    • Twitter Oomnj
      Not sure about hiring - usually they are better at discerning skills if the interviews are better targeted, but I’ve also seen standard SWE questions for ML positions which is a bad idea
      Jun 2
    • New
      DesusNice

      New

      BIO
      Tc = broke. Education: the Derek Zoolander school for kids who can’t read and want to do other stuff good too
      DesusNicemore
      Nope. Every one wants to brag about their AI efforts...a ton of bullshit will be sold for the next 5 years.
      Jun 2
    • Twitter Oomnj
      More that such people cause a headache for themselves and tech leads :(
      Like if you’re hired as a data scientist and ML and I’ve to talk to you about data leakage, then someone dropped the ball somewhere
      Jun 2
    • Google Sirens
      OP
      Too much noise and lack of accurate, systematic filtering for the real signals, although that's true of nearly any (sub-)industry
      Jun 2
  • New
    DesusNice

    New

    BIO
    Tc = broke. Education: the Derek Zoolander school for kids who can’t read and want to do other stuff good too
    DesusNicemore
    Someone will make a framework that every Tom dick and Harry in software can learn and we will be hiring kids out of high schools.
    Jun 2 1
    • Google Sirens
      OP
      Yeah, that's annoying when people apply models and draw spurious results without even checking the assumptions (e.g. inference following linear regression). Practitioners should at least have the sense to acquire an intuitive understanding of the inner workings.

      To be clear, I believe that shouldn't require rigorous functional analysis for SVM or algebraic-topological data analysis for classifying manifolds. Proper methodology doesn't always necessitate proofs.
      Jun 2
  • Facebook QIXQ16
    I find that most people learning on the job just learn hacky ways to do things, but don't develop enough breadth of knowledge about various techniques to be able to always choose the right tool for the right job and also lack the depth of knowledge to know how to correctly apply more complex theory in a practical manner.

    Some tiny amount of people are geniuses that can teach themselves this outside of an academic environment. Most people can't.
    Jun 5 1
    • Amazon / Eng batou
      agree. i feel this applies to not only ML roles but also other software engineering roles
      Jun 5
  • Amazon Northman
    I think it is very, very hard to become an L7+ IC AS at Amazon without a PhD, or an L6+ RS at Google. Better off moving to manager track at senior level.
    Jun 2 6
    • Amazon Northman
      The post was about ML roles in big tech, which I took to mean applied scientist/research scientist IC roles. For SDEs, lack of a PhD does not present a glass ceiling issue.
      Jun 2
    • Google Sirens
      OP
      Btw, there are also ML engineers (SWE) whose work is primarily on the applied side.
      Jun 2
    • Amazon Northman
      Yeah, for SWE MLs/MLEs there is no real glass ceiling. Likewise for EMs/SDMs managing ML teams.
      Jun 2
    • Google Sirens
      OP
      Just did an internal poll within Google - career growth for SWEs in Brain, DeepMind, and RMI - finding public sentiment by total votes at 25 (ceiling) : 10 (none) so far
      Jun 2
    • Google jojojoj
      PhD is required to be RS. Not for SWE.
      Jun 3
  • Amgen Fin4eng
    Currently, need PhD for most senior/exec roles. Will be interesting to see if changes over time as more bachelors learn on the job
    Jun 2 0
  • Google Sirens
    OP
    Edit: "with at least" -> "generally need at least"
    Jun 2 0