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

Written by Rebecca Turley

human handshaking ai generated hand

Artificial intelligence has proven to be an economic powerhouse for the Sunshine State, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Private and public universities here are going all in on major AI research projects and initiatives… state agencies are discovering new ways to put this emerging technology to use… and AI businesses ranging from emerging startups to established enterprises are quickly learning that Florida is a great place to set up shop and explore the power of AI and its ability to push business and industry forward.

Florida’s strong technology infrastructure, its attractive tax incentives, and its low energy rates are just some of the reasons why the AI sector has become the state’s darling, luring everyone from bright minds in research and development to entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to its sunny shores.

Take Tampa, for example. In 2021, Forbes named it the number one emerging tech city in the country, with tech migration here spurred by the city’s progressive local government, plenty of talent, and a strong university base. In fact, Forbes went so far as to say that Tampa could be gearing up to become the next Silicon Valley. Right now, this IT-talent-magnet city is home to more than 50 software and IT companies. It’s also where 25 percent of all the tech jobs in the state are found. You know you’ve struck gold when big names like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik are hedging their bets on the area’s tech growth. Together, they’ve invested $3.5 billion toward the development of real estate in Water Street Tampa, the downtown redevelopment project.

Not one to be outdone, Miami’s tech scene has also become a hot spot for AI professionals in recent years. COVID, of all things, appears to have been a major reason this South Florida city’s tech sector has reached new heights. Warm weather, coupled with lax COVID protocols, attracted a surge of Silicon Valley techies during that first, long COVID winter (one local entrepreneur aptly called it a “tech bro flashmob”), and more than a few decided to stay put. In the first three quarters of 2021 alone, Miami startups raised $2.4 billion – that’s triple what was earned in the same period a year before. Today, chances are good that if you eavesdrop on a conversation in Miami’s Beach’s hip Panther Coffee, they’ll be talking AI.

Florida has all the makings for success in AI. But if you want to get in on this emerging field, you’ll need a formal education as your foundation. Whether you’re new to the field and are looking for the bachelor’s degree that’ll provide you with a solid introduction to AI, or you’re interested in exploring where a master’s degree or graduate degree can take your current computer science, engineering, data analysis, or business skills, Florida’s AI degrees have what you need to succeed. Online or on-campus, AI programs located here in Florida and online are expertly designed to produce AI trailblazers and changemakers.

Why the University of Florida’s Supercomputer Is Proving to be a Gamechanger for Breakthroughs in AI

florida orange fieldsThe University of Florida is home to a marvel in artificial intelligence: a supercomputer named HiPerGator AI.

This groundbreaking technology, which is open to researchers and students across the university system and beyond, is a gift from alumnus Chris Malachowsky, founder of NVIDIA.

HiPerGator AI is part of an $80 million research and education partnership with NVIDIA, which will include 100 new faculty members in AI and efforts to implement AI across the university’s other academic disciplines, with the ultimate goal of graduating students across academic majors with practical AI and data science skills.

HiPerGator AI is already making big strides.

For example, it was used to create GatorTron™, a natural language processing model that has the ability to analyze and extract insights from massive volumes of clinical data at lightning speed. GatorTron™ extracts mountains of clinical data from patient records and makes sense of it all in real time, thereby accelerating research and medical decision-making.

Researchers are able to train GatorTron™ to understand medical records and unlock insights quickly and with great accuracy, allowing medical professionals to make swift clinical decisions.

HiPerGator AI is also being used by address Florida’s most pressing agricultural and environmental issues. For example, researchers are using it to mitigate citrus greening, a disease that has wreaked havoc on the state’s citrus industry. Researchers at the university created a company that flies drones over citrus groves to take photos and keeps a more accurate inventory of where citrus greening is taking place. The photos of the groves are processed and analyzed by HiPerGator AI, providing farmers with timely information regarding their crops.

But HiPerGator AI isn’t just being put to good use in the university. In fact, more than 120 university users outside of the UF system have accessed the technology.

For example, researchers at Florida International University’s Institute of Environment in Miami are using HiPerGator AI’s capabilities to better predict future coastal flooding in South Florida. Just some of the complex factors the supercomputer uses to make future flooding predictions include sea level rise, seasonal high tides, rainfall, storm surges, and groundwater levels.

And Florida State University’s School of Information is using the supercomputer alongside the AI tool Jukebox to create synthetic music that’s been shown to ease patient care for patients in recovery.

HiPerGator AI is allowing researchers and students across the country to apply AI in innumerable ways to bolster economic growth and improve lives. And it’s just getting started.

AI Jobs in Florida

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of AI professionals in Florida is projected to rise by 36 percent in the years leading up to 2030. In 2020, Florida reported 1,260 jobs in the field. However, this number is projected to climb to 1,710 by 2030. The state should see about 150 annual job openings in the field during this time due to a blend of new job growth and natural turnover.

According to Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Index Report for 2023, Florida ranked sixth in the nation for its number of AI job-related posts in 2022.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Miami

The forward momentum of AI jobs in Florida is felt across the state, from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast, from the Panhandle to Big Bend. Whether your skills lie in engineering, computer science, data science, or robotics, you’ll find countless opportunities to make a name for yourself in the growing AI field:

AI Companies in Gainesville, Coral Gables, Palm Beach, and Miami

State and city leaders, leading universities, and private business and industry are increasingly turning to AI to solve problems, unearth answers, and find solutions that have the ability to transform nearly every sector and industry. AI solutions are everywhere you turn, and Florida companies small and large are creating and implementing the technology that’s changing the way we do business, ease societal woes, maximize sustainability efforts, and advance causes that support the greater good.

For example, Xonar Technology in Largo designed an AI-enabled security surveillance system to detect weapons, while Delorean AI in Palm Beach builds sentient and semi-sentient systems of intelligence to solve business and economic issues for major Fortune 500 companies in the healthcare, life sciences, financial, and fintech industries. And Levatas in West Palm Beach implements AI solutions for robotics and automation equipment.

Florida’s also home to plenty of startups that are quickly making a name for themselves in the competitive AI realm. For example, Heru in Miami is making software for real-time medical diagnostic devices, and Kairos in Miami is designing facial recognition software that’s able to detect things like gender and age.

Florida colleges and universities are making serious strides in AI research and development. For example, researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine partnered with Qynapse Inc., a medical technology company that designed an AI-powered neuroimaging analysis platform for central nervous systems disorders, to research the relationship between COVID and cognitive impairment and dementia. And the University of Florida is implementing its own AI curriculum in Florida K-12 schools through the Artificial Intelligence for K-12 Initiative (AI4K12).

AI Salary in Pensacola, Tampa, Miami, and St. Petersburg

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI professionals in Florida, who fall under the broader BLS category of computer and information research scientists, earned a median salary of $114,590 as of May 2022. Those new to the profession with little experience earned about $96,030 during this time, while the top-paid earned about $196,420.

Among Florida’s top metro areas, the Sarasota metro area (which includes North Port and Bradenton) reported the highest median salary for AI professionals, at $170,540, followed by:

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metro areas reported the highest salaries among top AI professionals as of May 2022. These professionals, who likely have extensive experience and advanced degrees, earned about $220,790 and $220,030, respectively during this time.

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

In the field of artificial intelligence, hands-on learning in the field is a must, but so is a formal education. AI degrees in Florida and across the country are designed to provide both aspiring and practicing computer scientists, engineers, data analysts, and business professionals with the foundation they need to excel in this emerging, interdisciplinary field.

Bachelor’s concentrations in AI are usually offered as part of computer science degrees, although a number of colleges and universities are now offering them as stand-alone degrees. Rooted in science and math, these programs feature a foundation of courses like calculus, linear algebra, and probability. The AI core explores areas like machine learning, deep learning, information theory, natural language processing, and computer vision.

Master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs in AI are designed in a variety of ways to suit the study of the field as it relates to computer science, engineering, data science, or robotics. For example, the University of Central Florida offers an MS in Computer Science with an AI research focus.

Computer science and engineering master’s degrees with a focus on AI often include opportunities to specialize in areas like cybersecurity, machine learning, robotics, perception and language, and human-AI interaction.

In addition to a host of on-campus programs, a growing number of schools are now offering AI undergraduate and graduate degrees through fully online formats. These programs are often taught by the same faculty as on-campus programs, yet they provide unmatched convenience and flexibility for busy, working professionals and those with geographical limitations. For example, Florida Atlantic University offers an MS in AI and a Graduate Certificate in AI, both of which are offered in on-campus and online formats.

AI Computer Science Degree and Certificate Options in Orlando and Boca Raton

Computer science degrees with an AI focus are where you’ll explore the theories and applications of deep learning and AI in computer science and become well-versed in areas like natural language processing, robotics, and machine learning.

AI Engineering Degree and Certificate Options in Boca Raton

AI engineering degrees prepare practicing professionals with the AI and machine learning skills that advance their engineering skillset.

Florida Atlantic University (Public)

College of Engineering and Computer Science
Boca Raton, FL

florida atlantic university

MS in AI (online, on-campus)

Total Estimated Program Cost: $11,370

Graduate Certificate in AI (online, on-campus)


Also offers:

Total Estimated Program Cost: $4,548

University of Central Florida

College of Engineering and Computer Science
Orlando, FL

university of central florida

MS in Computer Science-AI Research Pair (on-campus)

MS in Computer Vision (on-campus)

Also offers:

Total Estimated Program Cost: $8,640 (1,073 per-credit out-of-state)

Total tuition comes in at $2,730 below the state average for similar programs.

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 November 2023.