Young ML Engineer

Do you have any advice for me in getting a job in ML. I am 18, finishing high school, over past year I’ve made two certification, IBM AI Engineering and TesorFlow Specialization from DeepLearningAI. I know Python, SQL, TenorFlow, Keras and AWS.

My '‘real-world’ projects are pretty primitive,got few from courses and few made myself but they are mostly CNNs cats-vs-dogs type.

Curretly I am build small GPT based on Andrej Karpathy videos but still feel that it wouldnt be enough of sufficient experience to land a job. I don’t really want to go to college because everything there i can learn by myself much faster but lack of network and real projects makes me self-conscious.

Normally, for FAANG jobs, you have to be outstanding (someone who built an incredible library, Gen AI, and published many papers in the field) in the field to be able to get a job without a degree. In my opinion, I would recommend still doing a degree since it is the easiest path.
In non-FAANG jobs is the same, HR recruiters first look at your degree most of the time without even reading your cover letter and certifications.
Again, this is just my opinion, others may be different than mine.

Entry level programming jobs normally require a degree. Not just because of what you learn in your area of study, but also because of all the other things you learn while in the process of getting a degree.

Does non-FAANG include startups(Small ones not Openai or Anthropic ofc) because if I were to apply I would probably choose start-up rather than big companies.

Start-up companies tend to be willing to take more risk, but they also can be unstable and disappear without warning. They also may have very specific needs for certain skills.

Startups are a difficult way to plan a career.

Even small companies (like start-ups) are relying on recruiters whose only first filter is the degree.

The first filter is the degree since recruiters do not know much about the relevance of your projects (they are trained to choose people based on superficial qualities (degrees, internships, previous working references) not to evaluate if your projects are relevant).

I am not saying it is impossible, but why go the hard way? life is already hard enough.