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10 steps to become a prompt engineer: A comprehensive guide

August 8, 2023

Prompt engineering guides AI models like ChatGPT and DALLE-2 by refining input instructions to generate specific outputs.


It is a crucial process to ensure that AI models produce desired results aligned with certain criteria or parameters.

Prompt engineering includes the task of fine-tuning the input data used to train AI models, where careful selection and structuring of data maximize its usefulness for training. 

The importance of prompt engineering 

The importance of prompt engineering lies in its ability to enhance the accuracy and performance of AI models. By understanding the flaws through prompt engineering, developers can identify and address issues that arise during model training. 


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Transforming simple inputs into unique outputs  

Moreover, prompt engineering can transform simple inputs into unique outputs, improving the overall model performance. In cases where data availability is limited, like in medical imaging, prompt engineering helps make the most of available data by optimizing its use in training the model. 

Ensuring user expectations and positive user experience 

Prompt engineering plays a critical role in ensuring software applications meet user expectations, providing a positive user experience by quickly responding to user input. Timely development and deployment of software applications contribute to project success, making prompt engineering an essential aspect of AI projects. 



Prompt engineering as a career 

As a career path, prompt engineering offers exciting opportunities for individuals with a deep understanding of natural language processing and a creative mindset. With the increasing prevalence of AI and NLP technologies across industries, the demand for skilled prompt engineers is expected to rise. 


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Significance of transparency and responsibility 

As companies adopt language models to offer user-friendly solutions, transparency and responsibility in prompt engineering become even more critical, making experienced prompt engineers highly valuable. Given the rise of AI and ML, prompt engineering promises to be one of the top career choices for the future. 

Embracing the Future of AI 

We stand at the brink of a new era in AI, with state-of-the-art tools like ChatGPT leading the advancements in the field. The possibilities for AI development are limitless, and the enthusiasm surrounding it is evident. For those aspiring to be at the forefront of AI innovation, prompt engineering is the key to joining the wave of progress in the world of AI. 

10 steps to become a prompt engineer
10 steps to become a prompt engineer – Source: Data Science Dojo

Roadmap to becoming a prompt engineer

Becoming a proficient prompt engineer requires following a structured path and gaining expertise in various areas. Below are the essential steps to embark on this journey and start your career as a prompt engineer:

1. Grasp the fundamentals of NLP

Begin by understanding the basics of natural language processing (NLP), which focuses on the interaction between computers and human language. Familiarize yourself with key concepts like tokenization, part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, and syntactic parsing. These form the foundation for working with conversational AI systems like ChatGPT.

2. Master Python

Python is the primary language for NLP and AI tasks. Master Python’s fundamentals, including variables, data types, control flow, and functions. Progress to advanced topics like file handling, modules, and packages. Familiarize yourself with essential libraries like TensorFlow and PyTorch, which play a vital role in working with ChatGPT.

3. Explore NLP libraries and frameworks

Dive into popular NLP libraries and frameworks such as Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK), spaCy, and Transformers.

NLTK offers a comprehensive set of tools and datasets for NLP tasks. spaCy provides efficient NLP processing with pre-trained models, while Transformers, developed by Hugging Face, offers access to state-of-the-art transformer models like ChatGPT. Practice text preprocessing, sentiment analysis, text classification, and language generation using these tools.

4. Understand ChatGPT and transformer models

Gain a thorough understanding of the underlying architecture and functioning of transformer models, including the one used in ChatGPT. Dive into the self-attention mechanism, encoder-decoder structure, and positional encoding. This knowledge will help you comprehend how ChatGPT generates coherent and contextually relevant responses. 


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5. Experiment with pre-trained ChatGPT models

Take advantage of pre-trained ChatGPT models like GPT-2 or GPT-3. Experiment with different prompts to observe the model’s text generation capabilities and limitations. Hands-on practice will deepen your understanding of ChatGPT’s behavior.

6. Fine-tune ChatGPT for custom applications

Learn the process of fine-tuning pre-trained models like ChatGPT to suit specific tasks and use cases. Familiarize yourself with transfer learning, data preprocessing, and hyperparameter tuning techniques. Explore domain adaptation, context handling, and response generation to optimize ChatGPT’s performance in conversational AI applications.

7. Be aware of ethical considerations and bias in AI

As a prompt engineer, it is crucial to be mindful of ethical considerations and potential biases associated with AI models. Understand responsible AI development and the impact of biases in training data and model outputs. Stay updated on guidelines and best practices to mitigate biases and ensure fair AI systems.

8. Stay current with latest research

NLP and AI are evolving rapidly, with new research and advancements occurring frequently. Stay updated by following reputable sources, attending conferences, and engaging with the AI community. Keep abreast of the latest techniques, models, and research breakthroughs related to ChatGPT.

9. Collaborate and contribute to open-source projects

Participate actively in open-source projects related to NLP and AI. Collaborate with other professionals in the field, contribute to libraries, frameworks, or research initiatives that enhance ChatGPT’s capabilities. This collaborative approach will provide practical experience, exposure to different perspectives, and professional growth opportunities.

10. Apply skills to real-world projects

Solidify your expertise by applying your skills to real-world NLP and conversational AI projects. Seek opportunities to work on practical problems and use ChatGPT to address specific use cases. Building a portfolio of successful projects will showcase your capabilities to potential employers and further enhance your proficiency in ChatGPT. 

By following this roadmap, you can become a skilled prompt engineer ready to make significant contributions in the dynamic world of AI and NLP. 


Read more –> LLM chatbots: Real-life applications, building techniques and LangChain’s finetuning


Prompts: Types for guiding language models 

When using language models like ChatGPT, there are several types of prompting techniques that you can utilize to guide the model’s responses. Here are some common prompt types: 

  1. Instructional prompts

Instructional prompts provide explicit instructions to the model about the desired behavior or response. You can specify the format, style, or tone of the answer or ask the model to think step-by-step before generating a response. Instructional prompts help set clear expectations and guide the model’s output accordingly. 

Example: “Please provide a detailed explanation of the process involved in solving this math problem.”

  1. Socratic prompts

Socratic prompts aim to guide the model’s thinking by asking leading questions or providing hints. This prompts the model to reason through the problem and arrive at a well-thought-out response. Socratic prompts are useful when you want the model to demonstrate understanding or critical thinking. 

Example: “What are the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy sources?” 


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  1. Priming prompts

Priming prompts involve providing specific example responses that align with the desired output. By showcasing the style or tone you’re aiming for, you can guide the model to generate similar responses. Priming helps shape the model’s behavior and encourages it to produce outputs consistent with the provided examples.

Example: “Here are a few responses I’m looking for: ‘That’s great!’ or ‘I completely agree with you.'” 

  1. Mixed prompts

Mixed prompts combine multiple types of prompts to provide a comprehensive guiding framework. By incorporating instructional, contextual, and other types of prompts together, you can provide a rich context and precise instructions for the model’s responses. 

Example: “Based on our previous conversation (contextual prompt), please explain the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy sources (instructional prompt). Additionally, consider providing examples to support your points (Socratic prompt).”

  1. Example-based prompts

Example-based prompts involve providing specific examples or sample inputs and desired outputs to guide the model’s behavior. By showing the model concrete examples of what you expect, you help it learn patterns and generate responses that align with those examples. 

Example: “Here’s an example of the type of response I’m looking for: When asked about your favorite book, mention ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and explain why it resonated with you.” 

The effectiveness of each prompt type can vary depending on the specific use case and context. It’s essential to experiment with different prompt types and iterate to find the most effective approach for obtaining accurate and desired outputs from the language model. 

5 essential skills for becoming a prompt engineer 

The role of a prompt engineer demands a unique skill set that combines technical expertise with effective communication and problem-solving abilities. As this emerging field continues to evolve, prompt engineers must possess the following five key skills to excel in their roles: 

 1. Strong verbal and written communication skills

Prompt engineers need to communicate effectively with AI systems using words and phrases. Crafting detailed prompts can be complex, requiring careful selection of hundreds or even thousands of words. Moreover, the cross-disciplinary nature of prompt engineering makes communication and collaboration vital in the development process. 

2. Programming proficiency

While prompt engineering is distinct from traditional programming, many prompt engineers are involved in coding tasks. This involvement may include developing the AI platform itself or using programming skills to automate testing and other functions. Proficiency in well-established languages such as Python is commonly expected, alongside familiarity with APIs, operating systems, and command-line interfaces, tailored to the specific AI platform and company requirements. 

3. Prior prompt experience

Given the novelty of prompt engineering, there is no fixed benchmark for prior experience. However, most employers seek prompt engineers with demonstrated experience in building and testing AI prompts, particularly in major models like GPT and platforms such as ChatGPT. Practical experience in these areas is highly valued. 

4. AI technology knowledge

While language skills are essential for prompt engineers, they also require a comprehensive understanding of natural language processing (NLP), large language models (LLMs), machine learning, and AI-generated content development. Familiarity with coding and AI platform development is crucial for hands-on involvement in certain responsibilities.

5. Data analysis experience

A fundamental skill for prompt engineers is the ability to comprehend the data used by the AI platform, the data employed in prompts, and the data generated or provided by the AI in response. Proficiency in data analytics techniques and tools is necessary to identify data biases and objectively assess the quality of AI outputs. Employers often seek candidates with several years of experience analyzing structured and unstructured data sources. 

In addition to technical skills, prompt engineers must possess soft skills like problem-solving, analytical thinking, and effective collaboration with cross-functional teams. 

The salary outlook for prompt engineers 

The demand for prompt engineers is on a steady rise as organizations across various industries increasingly rely on software systems to optimize their operations and improve user experiences. Industry reports project that the global software development market is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2027, leading to a significant demand for skilled prompt engineers. 

In terms of remuneration, prompt engineers are well-rewarded for their specialized expertise. In the United States, the average annual salary for a prompt engineer stands at approximately $98,000, with experienced professionals earning salaries exceeding $120,000 per year. These salary figures highlight the lucrative nature of the prompt engineering field, making it an appealing career choice for aspiring technologists. 

Future of prompt engineers 

In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the world of prompt engineering and its significance in guiding AI models like ChatGPT and DALLE-2 to generate specific outputs aligned with desired criteria. We have seen the various types of prompts that prompt engineers can use to influence the model’s behavior effectively. 

Prompt engineering empowers developers to enhance the accuracy and performance of AI models by providing clear instructions, guiding questions, example responses, and more. It plays a vital role in shaping the AI system’s behavior, making it user-friendly and aligned with user expectations. 

Roadmap to becoming a prompt engineer

The roadmap to becoming a prompt engineer highlights the essential steps one must take to embark on this exciting career path. From mastering the fundamentals of NLP and Python programming to experimenting with pre-trained models, fine-tuning, and staying updated with the latest research, each step contributes to building a well-rounded prompt engineer. 

As AI and NLP technologies continue to advance, prompt engineering will remain a crucial aspect of the industry. Ethical considerations, transparency, and responsibility in AI development will become increasingly important, making experienced prompt engineers invaluable contributors to responsible AI solutions. 

Embracing the future of AI, we recognize the limitless possibilities that lie ahead with state-of-the-art tools like ChatGPT leading the way. Aspiring prompt engineers have the opportunity to be at the forefront of AI innovation, leveraging their skills and creativity to shape the world of conversational AI. 

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In conclusion, prompt engineering is an exciting and rapidly growing field that holds significant promise. By following this guide and staying dedicated to continuous learning and exploration, individuals can become proficient prompt engineers, driving AI advancements and contributing to the dynamic world of natural language processing and artificial intelligence. 

Want to learn more about Prompt Engineering? Register now for Data Science Dojo’s Large Language Model Bootcamp!

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