Is It Worth Getting into Machine Learning Without a PhD?

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The popularity of machine learning has reached some ridiculous heights lately. As more people realize the huge viability of the field in their own work, everyone is starting to consider learning a thing or two about it. However, many people quickly come to the realization that it’s a hugely complex field, dominated by experts in mathematics and statistics. The ones that get hit the hardest by this realization are usually experienced programmers hoping that they could pick up the necessary skills more quickly. So, in the end, is it worth even pursuing this without getting into a full degree program?

Scientists and Engineers

Not everyone who works in data science is actually a scientist – some of the people involved in this line of work have to develop the systems to support it all, as well as implement the theoretical algorithms in practice. A good analogy would be to look at the field of programming itself several decades ago when it was in its infancy – most of the people involved were the ones developing the languages, but nowadays it’s a completely different story, with everyone having the ability to pick up and learn their creations.

Learning New Skills

Even if you don’t end up following a full degree path in your machine learning studies, it will still be a useful adventure that will show you many new things and teach you new concepts. It’s possible that you’ll be able to pick up the necessary skills just enough to utilize them into your own work, which is still an improvement over your previous situation in any case. And if you decide that you might have a knack for it, it’s probably not too late to look into getting in a related degree and dedicating a few years of your life to it.

The Benefits of a PhD

Still, a PhD does have its undoubted benefits when you want to progress faster. You’ll have a mentor who will tell you what’s worth learning and what fields are growing actively right now, and you’ll have a much more focused, directed study as a result. That’s not to say that you won’t be able to pick up on those things on your own though, but it will definitely be much easier if you have someone experienced telling you exactly what to do and sharing their wisdom with you. Of course, not every mentor will be like that, but that’s a different story.

In the end, pursuing this field is a very viable decision for many people. Whether it will work out for you specifically is hard to tell from the start, but it’s definitely worth a shot if you feel like you’ve got the necessary set of prerequisite skills. And with so many communities to join and explore like Programering.Com , you have many people that can readily discuss these things with you at length, helping you build up a truly impressive amount of knowledge that can help you out in your day-to-day work, no matter what you normally do.