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

Written by Rebecca Turley

ai in north carolina

Cutting edge technology has long had a home in North Carolina. Grounded in a pro-business climate, strengthened by a highly skilled workforce, and supported by a superb infrastructure of top companies and esteemed research universities, North Carolina is where technology naturally thrives and where artificial intelligence is making serious inroads to become the state’s next big thing.

You only have to go as far as Research Triangle Park (RTP) to see the countless ways in which artificial intelligence is already making a mark on the state’s tech sector. As North America’s largest – and one of its most successful – science parks, RTP encompasses 7,000 acres across Durham and Wake Counties, hosting more than 250 companies that include everyone from major multinationals like Bayer, IBM, Lenovo, Cisco, and GlaxoSmithKline to emerging startups and preeminent R&D operations.

RTP is part of the Piedmont region’s Research Triangle, a nine-county region that includes Duke, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It’s been the site of major technological marvels since the 1950s. It’s where SAS kickstarted the “big data” revolution… where researchers at Duke University crated the first 3D ultrasound… and where two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for creating the first effective drug for HIV/AIDS.

And in recent years, RTP is where work in artificial intelligence has been rivaling all those tech innovations from decades past. In 2023 alone:

North Carolina has all the makings for a location that will support a successful career in AI. But before you can become a valuable part of this interdisciplinary field, you’ll need a foundation of knowledge that only a formal degree program can provide. Whether you’re an aspiring AI research scientist or engineer, or you’re interested in focusing or refocusing your career plans around AI, you’ll find a wealth of online and on-campus programs in North Carolina and across the country designed to position you as a leader in the field.

AI is Being Used to Crack Down on Distracted Truckers in North Carolina

police pulled over truckerTruck drivers with a penchant for texting while driving, beware – North Carolina State Highway Patrol is using AI to catch you.

In July 2023, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol announced that it began using artificial intelligence to identify distracted commercial drivers.

Deployed on high-traffic roads where commercial vehicles are as common as commuters, AI technology is being employed to take photos of drivers who violate the hands-free law. These mobile cameras can be moved and relocated, as necessary.

Called Acusensus Heads-Up, the product takes photos of both the trucker inside the cab and the truck’s license plate and then sends the image to highway patrol troopers who can identify whether the truckers are in violation of the hands-free or seat belt laws. According to North Carolina law, commercial drivers must always use hands-free devices while behind the wheel.

The state troopers park in locations beyond the cameras and then receive alerts within seconds when a violation is spotted. The troopers can then review the photo and verify if a violation has occurred and stop the truck as it passes.

The state highway patrol said they issued five violations in the first thirty-minute period that they used it in the Hickory area.

According to troopers, there have been more than 150 fatalities involving commercial vehicles in North Carolina since 2022.

AI Jobs in North Carolina

According to CompTIA’s 2023 State of the Tech Workforce, North Carolina boasts about 293,000 tech jobs, ranking it 11th in the nation. Tech jobs here account for about 6 percent of the total workforce.

During 2021 and 2022 alone, the number of net tech jobs in North Carolina grew by 2.8 percent, or 7,851 jobs. CompTIA projects that between 2022 and 2023, this number will increase again by 3.3 percent, or 9,722 jobs.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for AI professionals (classified within the BLS category for Computer and Information Research Scientists) in North Carolina are projected to increase by 28 percent in the decade leading up to 2030.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham

Finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and beyond… The AI field in North Carolina is booming across many industries, and it’s calling for experts in computer science, engineering, data science, business, and more.

AI Companies in Raleigh and Durham

Artificial intelligence in North Carolina is leading the charge toward a more sustainable, socially responsible, and efficient future. Universities, private research labs, established multinationals, and emerging startups are creating AI solutions that have the power to change the world.

North Carolina is where you’ll find major players in AI. And no list of the best of the best in AI is complete without SAS Institute, which has grown to become the largest private software company in the world with $3.2 billion in annual revenue. SAS began nearly 50 years ago as a project at North Carolina State, and it has continued to evolve since. Today, this Carey-based company’s major focus is its Viya platform, which provides a range of AI-powered analytics tools and applications like natural language processing, predictive modeling, and deep learning. SAS is a big player in the healthcare field, with its AI-powered technology helping healthcare companies reduce costs, streamline operations, and improve patient outcomes.

Also in Raleigh is Pendo, a software vendor that generates analytics and evaluates online consumer behavior. It was one of the first software companies to utilize advanced algorithms and AI to help companies understand how consumers interact on their website. The company’s AI technology serves as a personalized consultant that offers creative solutions to improve a user’s experience. This major North Carolina company boasts a market value estimated at $2.6 billion and is home to about 900 employees.

Automated Insights is another big player in North Carolina. This Durham-based company specializes in its natural language generation product called Wordsmith, which transforms data into clear, human-sounding language for a wide array of industries and applications. Big clients include Microsoft, the Associated Press (AP), and Yahoo! Sports.

AI startups are also busy making their own waves in North Carolina. For example, the AI startup Diveplane has become an emerging name in Raleigh. It opened a new office and doubled its workforce after raising a cool $25 million from investors in 2022. Diveplane’s software product creates a “digital twin” of data that companies can then use to analyze without disclosing personal or sensitive information.

Pryon has become another rising name in Raleigh. This startup, which developed an AI-powered knowledge management product, landed $100 million in Series B investment funding in 2023. This company makes virtual assistants for companies that are created by uploading massive amounts of data that can then be used to answer questions about work-related information.

AI commercialization in North Carolina is supported by a major R&D infrastructure that includes:

AI Salary in Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Charlotte

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI scientists and engineers in North Carolina (classified within the BLS category for Computer and Information Research Scientists), earned a median salary of $101,340 as of May 2022. Those newest to the profession earned about $83,020 during this time, while those at the top of the pay scale earned about $189,960.

AI professionals in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area earned a median salary of $126,430 as of May 2022, surpassing the state median by about $25,000. Those in the Charlotte and Raleigh metro areas reported median salaries that closely resembled the state median, at $107,070 and $106,830, respectively.

According to the BLS, the highest paid AI professionals in North Carolina were found in the Raleigh metro area, which reported a top salary of about $196,580, followed by the Charlotte metro area, at $190,440. The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area reported a salary of about $176,750 for the highest paid AI scientists and engineers.

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

Formal degree and certificate programs in AI provide both aspiring and practicing AI professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to become serious contenders for some of the most exciting AI jobs in North Carolina.

Whether you have your sights set on becoming a software engineer, robotics engineer, data analyst, or computer vision engineer, a bachelor’s degree is a must. And for current tech professionals in the science and engineering fields, master’s degrees and graduate certificates are standard preparation for a career change or climb up the career ladder.

Bachelor’s degrees in AI provide students with a solid foundation of the theory and practical applications of the field. These programs, which are largely offered in departments of computer science or engineering, are grounded in mathematics, with core courses including linear algebra, calculus, and statistics.

Master’s degrees in AI offer more focused courses of study for career changers and currently practicing computer scientists and engineers. Reflecting the field’s interdisciplinary nature, these programs are found in departments of computer science and engineering, schools of arts and sciences, colleges of philosophy, and more. When designed as a computer science degree, AI programs often feature focus options in areas like cybersecurity, intelligent interaction, machine learning, robotics, and vision. And some computer science programs are designed with a specialization in AI. For example, Duke University offers an MS in Computer Science with an AI/ML concentration.

When offered as part of an engineering master’s degree, AI programs often offer specialization options in areas like bioengineering, environmental engineering, molecular and nanoscale engineering, and neuroengineering. Duke University also offers a Master of Engineering in AI and a Graduate Certificate in AI Foundations for Product Innovation. Both are offered in a fully online format for maximum convenience and flexibility.

AI Computer Science Degree and Certificate Options in Durham

AI computer science degree and certificate programs in Durham are where students learn to apply problem-solving, creative thinking, algorithmic design, and computer programming skills to build modern AI systems.

AI Engineering Degree and Certificate Options in Durham

AI engineering degree and certificate programs in Durham allow students to learn to master the depth and breadth of complex AI technologies and the way intelligent systems are designed and deployed.

Duke University (Private)

Pratt School of Engineering
Durham, NC

duke university

Master of Engineering in AI (online)

MS in Computer Science-AI/Machine Learning concentration (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Program Cost: $62,610

Graduate Certificate in AI Foundations for Product Innovation (online)


Also offers:

Total Estimated Program Cost: $62,610

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 January 2024.