Increasingly, AI tools or intelligent chat programs like Chat GPT are being used in everyday work to develop marketing strategies or write texts, for example. In order for such tools to become better and better in the future and deliver high-quality results, they now need to be enriched with useful and relevant data.
But what does all this have to do with a prompt engineer? Being a prompt engineer is one of the most popular jobs in technology today. Surprisingly, this profession does not require a technical background.
What is a prompt?
A prompt can be a sentence, a question, a string of words, or even a complex problem with a variety of elements and information. The goal is to provide high-quality prompts to an AI so that it can generate accurate and relevant answers. This also helps to avoid bias or incorrect information.
What is a prompt engineer?
Prompt...what? You are probably asking yourself this question – and rightly so! A prompt engineer is someone who, roughly speaking, improves AI-based software and makes it run a specific task. He does this by formulating sentences or sequences of words on certain topics and feeding them into the tool's backend. It is even possible to include whole CSV files with raw data. These prompts form the data basis of the tools. If, for example, someone wants to have a blog article created on the topic of "Skilled labor shortage in Switzerland in 2023," the AI tool creates it based on all the data that a prompt engineer has fed in. So the better this data, the better the results. Unlike a traditional IT engineer, the prompt engineer does not use a programming language.
Currently, there are (still?) few people working in this new field worldwide. This could change in the future, when more and more companies want to offer AI-based tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants.
Prompt engineers are proposed very high salaries – in some cases six-figure salaries. These super salaries can probably be explained by the fact that the discipline is still very new and that the demand for prompt engineers is increasing.
How can you become a prompt engineer?
There is no specific career path or prerequisites. Of course, an interest in AI and computer technology is an advantage. Some of the employees already working in the profession are humanities graduates and have previously worked as copywriters or editors. They often have little or no technical know-how. Contrary to what you might think, humanities graduates are particularly well-suited for this job: Prompt engineers do not have to write technical code. They give instructions to the AI model to refine answers – they do this by working predominantly with text and text optimization. They identify concrete questions, requirements or tasks that humans could ask or give to an AI. In the second step, they formulate the best possible answers to these or provide suitable results and store them in the AI tool.
The chances of finding a job as a prompt engineer today are very good. The job ads are booming and the requirements for such a position do not seem to be very high – as mentioned before, no computer science or engineering background is necessary. However, what seems simple may be much more difficult in reality: prompt engineers need to have a whole range of soft skills to be successful in their new job. First and foremost, of course, are the best communication skills – no satisfactory results without precise and clear instructions. Organisational skills, planning abilities and the ability to think critically should also not be underestimated.
What are the future prospects for prompt engineers?
Opinions on the future of this new type of AI job are controversial. While some believe that more and more companies will use AI-based tools and that they would need to be continuously developed and optimised, others believe that at some point the systems will be so advanced that humans will no longer be needed.
Experts suggest that this job could soon become extinct. The reason for this is that generative AIs are improving very quickly over the months and their ability to understand the user's intention is also increasing. Even with very simple prompts, good results can be achieved much more often than a few months ago. However, it is important to remember that AIs will also evolve - prompt engineers may again be needed for new tools.
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