So you want to become an AI Apprentice?

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Updated 3 Feb 2020

The AI Singapore’s AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP)™ is one of AI Singapore’s popular programme, with on average 120-160 applicants every time we open for an intake. It is also rumoured to be very hard to get into, according to friendly sources from the ground.

This article will share what it takes to get into the AIAP™ and map out a training roadmap that someone who is keen to join the AIAP™ should pursue. As mentioned in my earlier article Excuse me, are you a Singaporean AI Engineer?, the AIAP™ is a programme where you get to deep-skill and work on a real-world AI project over 9 months. It is not a re-skilling programme where you come in to train and learn Python.

Do note that our expectations of what an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer or Machine Learning (ML) Engineer will do go beyond just ML modeling. The AI Engineer is expected to ingest data, do feature engineering, build, train and test the model, and lastly deploy it at scale with ability of the model to be retrained and refined whenever required.

What we look for in an AI Apprentice?

One of the most valued traits in our AI Apprentices, is that all of them are self-starters. We are looking for individuals who are self-directed learners and keen to learn data science (DS), AI, and ML  from everyone and everywhere, and anyhow. 

They are curious, they search, hunt and dig to learn. They do not ask “tell me how?” or “where can I go to learn?”.

Oh, and if you are one of those that need to pay money to attend a classroom to learn about Python programming, then you are also likely not someone we will be keen on.

The AI Apprenticeship Field Guide

To help you to better prepare for AIAP entrance test, we have developed the AI Apprenticeship Field Guide. It is a 12-18-months intensive roadmap to help you in your journey to prepare for the AI Apprentice entrance test if you are keen to join the programme, otherwise, you can also use this for your own AI/ML learning journey and the AI Singapore’s AI Associate Engineer Certification.

Earlier version of this article had the contents of the Field Guide repeated here, but I have now consolidated the contents into the Field Guide and removed the old contents from this article. So please head over to the AI Apprenticeship Field Guide for the details.


Most of the courses and materials listed in the AI Apprenticeship Field Guide above are FREE.  The recommended books is an investment in your education. 

Of course the above is not the only way to learn.  Some of you prefer learning only from books (like me), that is perfectly fine. Some like to watch online tutorials or University lectures on YouTube or attend MOOC and no books – please go ahead.

Some of you may be surprised, there is a lot you need to know even before you become an AI Apprentice!

As mentioned right at the beginning, the AIAP™ is a deep-skilling programme and provides the apprentice with an opportunity to work on a real-world AI/ML problem statement with all the common issues faced in the real world, from incomplete and dirty datasets to difficult requests from project sponsors, and yet at the same time, constant pressure to deliver at every Sprint and produce a working end to end model and solution within 9-months.

We cannot train you to be an AI Engineer in 9-months if you do not already have the required  foundation. We need you to acquire that foundation on your own, and we help to polish you up in 9-months so that you can land a role as an AI/ML Engineer or Scientist when you graduate from the programme.

Happy learning!

The AIAP™ is the first TechSkills Accelerator Company-Led Training (TeSA-CLT) initiative in AI. This is a collaboration between AI Singapore and IMDA to develop a pipeline of AI professionals for the industry.


  • Passionate about growing our own timber. I am currently the Director for AI Industry Innovation and AI Makerspace in AI Singapore.

3 thoughts on “So you want to become an AI Apprentice?”

  1. Great article but was confused with the section on “what do we look for in an AI apprentice” : “..self-directed learners and keen to learn data science (DS), AI, and ML from everyone and everywhere, and anyhow. ”


    “Oh, and if you are one of those that need to pay money to attend a classroom to learn about Python programming, then you are also likely not someone we will be keen on.”

    these 2 paragraphs seem to contradict each other. Attending classroom to learn Python is not self directed? Everyone has a different style isn’t it? I had assumed that the programme is to polish someone, who already has the foundation, to become an AI engineer. However, the way this person obtain his/her foundation is not of relevance here.

    • Most of the engineers I have hired the last 20 years learnt the basics of the craft like programming Python (or Java or C# etc) on their own either through books or online resources in recent times.

      How the person acquire his skills – does show how far he or she can go in the career.

    • Hi zhitingwu! If you think about it, how a person obtains his/her foundation will have an influence on how he/she will acquire more advanced skills later on. In this field, it is not possible to wait for a particular technology to reach the level of maturity where packaged courses and experienced trainers are available before jumping in. So we have to do a lot of learning in non-classroom settings. This is the point we would like to drive home.

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Excuse me, are you a Singaporean AI Engineer?

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