The popularization and widespread use of tools like ChatGPT have opened the door to a brand new skillset many call AI prompt engineering.
A prompt engineer has a nuanced understanding of how to interact with large language models or generative image models like ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, or Midjourney to generate a desired output.
Many of us have experimented with ChatGPT by asking it to write a fictional story or draft an email to a work colleague.
But prompt engineering seeks to unlock unique and valuable use cases.
Because this is such a new field, limited information exists about what a prompt engineer does or even how to become a prompt engineer.
This blog post explores the basics of AI prompt engineering, including what it is, its importance, and how to start learning.
We will also look at examples of prompt engineering roles, the salary, and how to get hired as a prompt engineer.
By the end of this blog post, you will better understand prompt engineering and its potential applications.
And, who knows, this might be the start of your next career.
So let’s get started!
What is AI Prompt Engineering?
AI prompt engineering involves designing, creating, and testing conversational prompts for AI systems to ensure they respond appropriately and provide helpful information.
A prompt engineer guides outputs of language models like ChatGPT, Dall-E, and Midjourney to generate results relevant to a specific use case.
They achieve this by writing prompts with the following:
- Clear language
- Concise (least amount of words or tokens)
- Constraints (limit the output length, style, or data format)
Prompt engineering examples
One of the most common examples is creating a chatbot or virtual assistant.
These products can save companies thousands or even millions of dollars per year in customer service expenses.
A shortcoming of many chatbots is that they sometimes fail to comprehend requests and provide low-quality responses.
In this case, a prompt engineer can experiment with potential text-based prompts that create a more realistic and helpful chat experience.
For example, an initial prompt might include a phrase like:
“Act as a helpful and polite virtual assistant for a company that sells mattresses. Do not provide inaccurate information. Provide responses that are no longer than 75 characters. If you cannot answer a question, refer the customer to our contact information page.”ChatGPT prompt
In practice, this prompt probably would not be enough to provide a productive customer experience.
But that is where a prompt engineer can tweak the prompt and explore alternative phrasing.
Another field of prompt engineering involves data analysis.
Large language models (LLMs) like GPT-3 can help answer questions about a set of data using plain English.
Often, problems with the outputs can be resolved by providing a more specific prompt.
A prompt engineer can adjust the original query until the desired output is achieved.
Engineering, or rewriting, the prompt until you achieve the desired outputs is core to developing the prompt engineer skillset.
Why is Prompt Engineering Important?
We have only scratched the surface of leveraging the power of AI models like ChatGPT.
The beauty of prompt engineering is that once a suitable input is identified, that prompt can be implemented into an automated process.
Daily tasks like replying to emails can be set on autopilot once you identify a prompt that works well in several use cases (i.e., which email is worth responding to, and how to phrase the response).
Expand this concept to a billion-dollar company.
The time and cost savings alone can be worth tens of millions of dollars.
A carefully crafted AI prompt limits the need for human interaction, freeing up time and resources for more productive tasks.
What makes prompt engineering hard?
Prompt engineering is challenging because it requires a deep understanding of human-computer interaction, knowledge of natural language processing, and the AI model’s capabilities.
This is a brand new field, after all!
The only way to achieve this knowledge is through many hours of hands-on building and experimentation with generative AI models.
How to Learn Prompt Engineering
The best way to learn prompt engineering is by creating a personal project or trying out different AI tools.
There is currently no standardized course or certification to learn prompt engineering.
Many individuals building out this skill are using OpenAI’s GPT Playground, ChatGPT, or connecting to the API.
A great way to fast-track this process is to build small projects for yourself using AI.
For example, I built a small tool in Google Sheets that allows GPT to run in individual cells.
This tool is perfect for reformatting or cleaning large amounts of data.
One of the key aspects of this project was to write the prompt in a smart way.
If we want GPT to categorize the sentiment of the text in a particular cell, we must provide clear instructions:
“Only one-word response. Classify text as positive, neutral, or negative based on sentiment.”GPT Prompt
Online communities and industry websites are also great ways to get started and stay motivated to keep learning.
Here are some resources focused on text and image-generative AI prompt engineering:
- https://www.aiprm.com/ (Google Chrome Extension for ChatGPT)
- https://promptable.ai/ (Organize and save prompts)
Prompt Engineer Jobs
The demand for skilled prompt engineers is on the rise.
We expect this field to expand fast.
More companies across various industries are set to adopt AI and conversational technologies.
Current jobs for prompt engineers range from full-time roles in the six figures to freelance projects listed on popular gig websites.
Additionally, we see an opportunity for individuals with this skillset to provide consulting services.
Many companies want to start incorporating AI more in their daily operations.
But these companies do not even know how to write a job description for a role like this.
A simple path forward for a prompt engineer consultant might look like this:
- Learn how to write effective prompts for a variety of use cases
- Build a personal portfolio of small AI-powered projects
- Create a case study for a company (i.e., e-commerce) where you solve a specific problem
- Implement the solution and advise the company on future projects as needed
Examples of Prompt Engineering Roles
Anthropic, an AI startup founded by former OpenAI employees, has a product called Claude, like ChatGPT.
Recently, Anthropic posted a role for a “Prompt Engineer and Librarian” with a salary range of $250k to $335k.
Freelance roles on platforms like Upwork are already available for aspiring prompt engineers looking to hone their craft.
Hourly rates for these jobs range from $30 to $60.
Several graphic designers and editors are starting to include the term prompt engineer in their job descriptions.
The potential for AI prompt engineering is enormous.
This skill can automate daily tasks, save time and resources, and drive value for many companies.
There is no standard certification for learning prompt engineering.
Hands-on experience and experimentation with AI tools like ChatGPT and OpenAI’s API can help individuals develop this skill.
The importance of prompt engineering is only starting to be realized, and we are excited about what the future has in store!