Learn AI in Arizona: A Guide to Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs & Certificate-Level Training Courses Online & in Arizona

Written by Rebecca Turley

arizona vehicles using ai on the road

From private industry to academia, Arizona’s tech community knows that when it comes to artificial intelligence, you can’t move too fast. AI breakthroughs are happening at breakneck speed here, pushing the boundaries of technology, driving discovery across scientific fields, and reimagining how we live, work, and solve problems that were once simply unsolvable.

From leading universities to startups to industry powerhouses, innovations in AI and machine learning are quickly making Arizona the state to watch when it comes to high tech advancements.

Take its autonomous vehicle industry, for example. Big names like Imagery and Waymo are using AI to teach self-driving vehicles how to navigate roadways precisely and safely. In fact, much of the testing and commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles takes place in Arizona. Arizona is now home to more than a dozen companies working on autonomous vehicles. It was also the first state in the nation to launch a commercial self-driving taxi service (Waymo) and the first state to sign an executive order supporting the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles.

Digital marketing is another industry in Arizona witnessing meteoric growth due to the implementation of AI. Companies like Digital Air Strike in Scottsdale and ConnectAI in Phoenix have become big players in the field due to their use of AI in digital marketing campaigns and social media content creation.

And Arizona’s innovations in AI aren’t just limited to software applications. Industry bigwigs like Intel, Benchmark, and Avnet are behind the AI technology and devices that capture and process data. For example, Intel drones fly over the 30,000-acre Scottsdale wilderness desert preserve to search for buffelgrass, an invasive plant species that chokes out native plants. Using aerial drone surveys and AI processing, these drones can search the desert and eliminate the grass in just hours.

There may never be a better time to jump on board and become an AI trailblazer in Arizona. But you’re going to need the insight and education that only a formal program in the field can offer. Whether you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree in AI to get your foot in the door in a field like computer science, software engineering, or robotics, or you’re interested in the master’s degree or graduate certificate program that’ll prepare you to take your career to the next level and allow you to specialize in an area of AI, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Arizona.

How Researchers Are Using AI to Crack the Alzheimer’s Code

dna helixThe world has been abuzz with talk about ChatGPT, a form of generative AI. Though this technology’s role has largely been focused on content creation, its reach is proving to be much, much broader.

In Tucson, the University of Arizona is conducting groundbreaking research into the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s using the power of generative AI —the same technology as ChatGPT —to make it happen.

Though more than $3.7 billion has been devoted to Alzheimer’s research so far, finding a cure for this degenerative brain disease has been elusive, largely because there’s no single cause that has pinpointed for the disease.

But researchers at the University of Arizona are hoping to crack the code by using artificial intelligence to process a massive amount of data from post-mortem brain tissue. Using AI-powered technology, researchers have been able to streamline the process of breaking down and analyzing the data.

In short, generative AI’s value goes far beyond simply understanding human language. It’s now being used to understand genetic code. The AI algorithm being used has been able to find patterns in genetic processes. To date, the team has processed more than 2,000 post-mortem brain tissues and identified 19 neuron-specific genetic points that can be targeted for future drug development for the disease.

AI Jobs in Arizona

Job opportunities in artificial intelligence in Arizona are going nowhere but up. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 250 jobs for computer and information research scientists in Arizona in 2020. By 2030, this number is projected to rise to 290 jobs – that’s an increase of 16 percent during this time.

In the coming years, Arizona should see about 20 annual job openings for AI professionals due to a blend of new job creation, retirements, and normal job turnover.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Tucson, Phoenix, and Scottsdale

From data scientists to software engineers, the field of AI is rich in opportunities for top tech professionals with an AI skillset. For example:

AI Companies in Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale

There’s no shortage of startups and established names in Arizona that are creating serious inroads in AI and delivering some of the most significant and disruptive innovations to hit the market. Just a sampling of some of the companies in Arizona where you’re sure to find the most advanced AI innovations taking place include:

Arizona’s world-class universities are also behind some of the most cutting-edge research in AI. The University of Arizona’s Department of Computer Science is engaging in collaborative, interdisciplinary AI research that includes foundational methods in ML, probabilistic methods, natural language processing, and more. And Arizona State University’s Cognition & Intelligence Lab is where you’ll find faculty and grad students building intelligent, automated systems. The lab’s focus is on teaching robots through demonstrations and language instructions to assist healthcare; enable scientific discovery through automated literature processing; realize human-machine collaboration on difficult tasks; and optimize human-robot collaboration.

AI Salary in Sierra Vista and Tucson

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI professionals in Arizona, who fall under the BLS category of computer and information research scientists, earned a median salary of $127,500 as of May 2022. AI scientists and engineers with little to no experience earned about $114,820 during this time, while those with advanced degrees and extensive experience earned about $162,380.

AI professionals in the Sierra Vista metro area (which also includes Douglas) earned a median salary of $120,020 as of May 2022, while those at the top of their field earned about $146,930. The Tucson region reported salaries for AI professionals that fell far below the state average. As of May 2022, AI professionals in this metro area earned a median salary of $88,410, with the top pros earning about $143,230.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Master’s Degree and Certificate Courses in Arizona and Online

Arizona colleges and universities are actively developing undergraduate and graduate programs in artificial intelligence. Although you won’t yet find any schools in the Grand Canyon State offering robotics, engineering, and computer science degrees focused specifically on the field of AI, you’ll be pleased to know that a growing number of schools across the country are offering a bevy of online degree options.

Bachelor’s degrees in AI, which can be stand-alone degrees or part of computer science or engineering degrees, provide students with a robust examination of AI and its subfields of machine learning, bot development, robotic processes, automation, and cognitive computing. In addition to a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics, AI bachelor’s degrees include courses in machine learning, computer vision, language understanding, and neural networks.

Master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs in AI may be designed as engineering programs, computer science programs, and applied AI programs. Like the field itself, graduate programs in AI tend to be interdisciplinary in nature. In short, programs in this field may be designed in any number of ways, with few prescribed courses or specific course of study.

Many master’s degrees and certificate programs in AI provide students with the opportunity to specialize their computer science, engineering, or AI-specific degree in areas like machine learning, robotics, perception and language, or human-AI interaction. You’ll also find many AI engineering graduate degrees with options to specialize in areas like biomedical engineering, computer engineering, data engineering, and software engineering.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for computer information and research scientists. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, CareerOneStop. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed October 2023.