Natural Language Processing, or NLP for short, is a form of Artificial Intelligence that concerns itself with making human language, both in textual and spoken forms, understandable for machines and computers.
An excellent example of NLP at work is Siri, a virtual assistant application that allows Apple users to make calls, search the internet, and do lots more by merely giving a voice command.
Another example of NLP in practical use is in language translators.
Have you ever wondered how Google translates a website in, for example, French to English? It uses a set of algorithms that reads through the French text, understands it, and then outputs it in English. More on this later.
This post will dig in a little further to help you understand Natural Language Processing and how it works.
Also, you will find this post particularly useful if you are hoping to take up a career as an NLP Engineer, Researcher, or Scientist.
What’s more, we will be sharing tips for landing a job in the NLP field.
What is Natural Language Processing?
We can interact and communicate with one another because we can comprehend a language: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, etc.
Machines don’t understand the human language the same way we do, hence an algorithm. An algorithm is a set of rules and logic that makes it possible for computers to make meaning of the human language.
This is where NLP comes into play.
The goal of NLP is to make it possible for computers to analyze the human language, make meaning of it, and perform the desired action.
A good example is Grammarly, a grammar correction software. Grammarly runs on an AI algorithm that analyses a text input, checks it against a predetermined linguistic structure, finds errors, and makes suggestions.
Another example is spam filters. When an email drops in your inbox, the spam filter algorithm automatically runs through the text, looking for words that are suggestive of spam. It automatically flags the email and pushes it to your spam box if it finds them.
What is Natural Processing Language used for?
NLP has lots of practical, real-life applications. Some of the common ones are as follows:
Chatbots are an innovative AI-powered technology designed to help businesses improve their customer service without much human intervention. As studies have shown, by 2023, chatbot applications will save companies a whopping $11 billion in labor costs.
This technology works by providing intelligible answers to questions users ask.
It analyzes the questions users submit as texts or voice commands. It attempts to understand the question by looking for specific keywords and phrases.
Next, it attempts to give a pre-set answer it believes best to the question.
The great thing about chatbots is that they keep getting better as they interact with humans.
2. Language translation
The language barrier was a significant challenge before the advent of linguistic Artificial Intelligence technologies. But not anymore, thanks to tools such as Google Translate and Facebook Translations.
These applications allow users to translate from English to, say, French – and backward – with a button click. They are so good that you would think humans do the translations.
Business entities can now reach a wider audience without bothering about language barrier problems.
Natural Language Processing has also proven to be helpful in the development of auto-correct technologies. This explains why text processing tools such as Microsoft Office Word and Google Document can detect typo and grammar errors and make suggested corrections as you type.
4. Virtual assistant technologies
Another example of a similar technology is speech-to-text software capable of outputting voice inputs as texts. You read, it types.
5. Sales and marketing
Natural Language Processing can also be used in the field of marketing. For example, it allows a company to better understand how its target audience perceives it by analyzing what people are saying online.
Is Natural Language Processing hard?
The simple answer is yes. And it is because the human language has lots of abstractions that machines may not understand.
For example, if someone tells you, “call me Stephen”, you can infer two things from that statement. One, the speaker’s name is Stephen. Two, the speaker requests that you call someone else whose name is Stephen.
Your understanding of that statement will depend on if you know the speaker’s name or not.
Another example is when someone tells you, “Zombies eat brains. You are safe, though”. That’s an apparent sarcasm, but computers won’t get that.
Is Natural Language Processing a good career?
The answer to that question depends mainly on job satisfaction and salary.
Since NLP is a form of computer science, it follows that anyone looking to get into it should have a flair for programming. You don’t have to be a guru or an expert coder – having an interest will do.
NLP developers and Engineers are handsomely paid, as you will find out in the next section.
Natural Language Processing Job Salary
How much do NLP developers and Engineers make? Well, it depends.
On an hourly basis, a career in NLP will make you $56 to $66 per hour.
How to get a job in natural language processing?
You must have certain skill sets to improve your chances of securing a job as an NLP engineer. They include Python programming, good knowledge of statistics, and an aptitude for research.
Once you acquire these skills, the next thing you will want to do is decide if you’re going to work remotely or from home. More details on this shortly.
Remote Natural Language Processing Jobs
If you are looking to work remotely as an NLP engineer, the best thing to do is start your job hunt on sites like Remoteok.com, Remote.co, Upwork.com, etc.
Better yet, you can search via Indeed.
Natural Language Processing jobs Australia
If you live in Australia and are looking to get an NLP job, Indeed Australia will help your job search.
Other job platforms you can use for job hunting include Seek.com, Jora.com, Glassdoor.com, and lots more.
Keep in mind that some of these job platforms charge a monthly subscription.
Natural Language Processing jobs Canada
There are many job sites that those looking for NLP jobs in Canada can use. LinkedIn and Indeed are some of them.
As of the time of this writing, there are over 5,000 NLP-related jobs on Indeed Canada. About 1,500 of them can be done remotely from the comfort of your home.
Why not head over to Indeed right away to start your job search.
Natural Language Processing Jobs India
NLP and Machine Learning have been steadily growing in popularity in India. This means there is ample job opportunity available for those looking to take up a career in those fields.
There is a handful of job posting sites you can leverage to get an NLP job in India. They include Naukri.com, Neuvoo, Simplyhired, Indeed, and a host of others.
Natural Language Processing Jobs UK
Flexjobs will come in handy when searching for an NLP job in the UK. Additionally, you also try your hands on Indeed UK, Reed.co.uk, Monster.co.uk, etc.
The average salary of an NLP Engineer in the UK falls between ￡45,000 to ￡65,000 per annum. Could be more depending on your experience.
Natural Language Processing is revolutionizing the way we interact with computers and machines. It keeps getting better by the day.