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

Written by Rebecca Turley

ai in washington

The energy in Washington State is palpable, pouring out from its dynamic tech centers where world-class companies are contributing to the entrepreneurial spirit and culture of creativity that has long made the state synonymous with technology. Washington has carefully and methodically cultivated its innovation sector and has lured the best and brightest to a land with stunning scenery and a laid back lifestyle that rivals anything Silicon Valley has to offer. Goliaths like Microsoft and Amazon anchor the tech sector and have helped build the ecosystem that’s nurturing fast-growing startups. It’s a state where advanced technologies like artificial intelligence are a natural outgrowth of an already-thriving tech sector. That means opportunities to make your mark in AI are as plentiful as you’d imagine.

Washington State is now home to more than 14,000 information and communication technology (ICT) companies, many of which are focused on cloud computing, quantum computing, augmented/virtual reality and, of course, artificial intelligence. From Silicon Valley transplants like Google and Facebook to local powerhouses like Amazon, Boeing, and Starbucks, you’d be hard pressed to find a major global player in Washington that isn’t laser focused on artificial intelligence.

Washington’s tech talent can easily go head to head with any top tech region of the country, and it consistently ranks among the top three states for employment in the tech sector, median salaries for tech professionals, and for the portion of the workforce employed in tech. Washington is home to 19,000 ICT companies and counting. With a value of $138 billion, the ICT sector accounts for nearly 22 percent of the entire state’s economy – the highest percentage in the U.S.

Impressed yet? You’re not alone. The state’s major research universities are contributing to the growing tech talent pool here, which is being swiftly snatched up by everyone from major multinationals to rising startups. Outstanding opportunities to become part of Washington’s thriving tech sector are abundant, especially for those who hold degrees in artificial intelligence. Fortunately, a flurry of AI degree and certificate programs are taking shape at colleges and universities across the country to meet the rising demand for AI experts.

From Gridlock to Green Lights: How Google Is Helping Ease Traffic Congestion in Seattle

traffic on I5Talk traffic with nearly any driver and they’re sure to unleash a torrent of gripes and frustrations. Backups, bottlenecks, gridlocks—dealing with traffic headaches has long been a necessary part of living in a big city. But Seattle and Google have other plans.

Google’s newest AI-powered endeavor called Project Green Light is set to become Seattle’s answer to its traffic congestion problems at intersections.

Using AI and Google Maps, Project Green Light’s platform is able to accurately detect traffic patterns and then make recommendations to city officials to better optimize the timing of their traffic lights. After gathering information received from strategically placed sensors and cameras, the platform’s algorithm pinpoints and learns about everything from typical traffic patterns to peak congestion hours. Once the data is collected, they send the information to the city, who can then make changes to intersections based on their recommendations.

The goal: reduce vehicle emissions by cutting down on stop-and-go traffic. Project Green Light is live in a few dozen intersections in cities around the world, although Seattle is the first city in North America to test out this new Google technology.

Though the project is still in its earliest stages, Google projects that it is able to reduce stops by 30 percent and decrease vehicle emissions at busy intersections by about 10 percent. Being able to cut down on idling time at intersections by even a few seconds can be very impactful in terms of reducing vehicle emissions. According to Google, idling cars produce greater carbon emissions, which is why pollution can be upwards of 29 times higher at busy intersections than on open roads.

AI Jobs in Washington

There’s no doubt – tech continues to be a major driver of Washington’s economy. According to the Washington Technology Industry Association, the ICT industry directly employed 360,900 people here in 2022, making it the fastest growing industry in the Evergreen State. Overall, more than 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs are tied to the tech sector in Washington State.

According to CompTIA’s 2023 State of the Tech Workforce, there were nearly 19,000 tech businesses in Washington as of 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, CompTIA reported a 5.5 percent increase in the number of tech jobs here, which totaled 17,962 jobs. Between 2021 and 2022, CompTIA projects that jobs in this field will rise again by 3.9 percent, or 13,494 jobs.

Not surprisingly, Seattle garnered a large share of the state’s tech jobs as of 2022. According to CompTIA, Seattle’s tech employment stood at 289,325 – that’s nearly 13 percent of the city’s total workforce. Seattle also reported 12,369 tech businesses that had an economic impact of $131 billion, or nearly 29 percent of the city’s GDP.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for AI scientists and engineers in Washington (categorized as computer information and research scientists) are expected to increase by 38 percent in the decade leading up to 2030 – one of the highest increases in the country during this time. The Department of Labor projects that jobs among AI professionals will rise from 2,600 jobs in 2020 to 3,580 jobs in 2030.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue

It’s an exciting time to become part of Washington’s growing AI field. Machine learning engineers, AI scientists, software architects, computer vision engineers, and more are the tech professionals making significant, lasting contributions to this emerging, interdisciplinary field.

AI Companies in Seattle

Major multinationals like Microsoft and Amazon are, of course, behind exciting advances in AI in Washington, but they’re far from the only game in town. Many tech giants like Twitter, Apple, BestBuy, eBay, and Facebook have large scale engineering operations in Washington, and AI startups are emerging at a rapid pace.

For example, the Amazon-backed startup Anthropic, which has become one of the most valuable privately held AI companies, rivaling OpenAI in the generative AI field, is increasing its presence in the Seattle area. This San Francisco-based company is just one of many tech companies who have broadened their reach to take advantage of Seattle’s tech talent. Seattle is a natural extension for Anthropic, given its relationship with Amazon, which is investing up to $4 billion in the company.

Just a few examples of some of the rising startups in AI in Washington include Falkon, a Seattle-based company focused on AI-driven sales and marketing that raised $16 million in funding in 2022… Redmond’s Aigen, builds AI-driven robots for the agricultural industry and raised $12 million in Series A funding in 2023… and Outbound AI, a Seattle-based company focused on AI-driven solutions for healthcare administrators that raised $16 million in seed financing in 2023.

The growth of AI startups comes as little surprise for a state with exceptional venture capital funding. According to the Washington Technology Industry Association, Washington State was home to no less than 17 tech unicorns in 2022—privately held companies that boasted a valuation of at least $1 billion. For example, Convoy, an ML and automation-based digital platform for freight logistics, was valued at $3.4 billion and employed more than 1,000 workers as of 2022. Convoy raised some $410 million in series E late-stage VC funding in April 2022 alone.

As of 2022, IT startups in Washington State raised $15.5 billion in VC funds. Between 2021 and 2022, AI and ML startups in Washington State raised $3.2 billion through no less than 247 deals.

AI research here is supported by world class univesrities and private research firms. For example, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington is one of the leading centers for AI research in the world. And the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is a Seattle-based global research institute that’s focused on projects related to natural language processing, computer vision, AI environmental applications, and more.

AI Salary in Seattle and Bremerton

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AI scientists and engineers (categorized by the BLS as computer and information research scientists) in Washington earned a median salary of $182,650 as of May 2022. Those newest to the profession earned about $123,690 during this time.

AI professionals in the Seattle metro area (also includes Tacoma) earned a median salary of $196,440 as of May 2022 – about $14,000 higher than the state median during this time, while those with just a few years of experience earned about $135,570.

The Bremerton metro area reported a median salary for AI professionals of just $105,900, far below both the state median and Seattle’s median.

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

The meteoric rise of artificial intelligence jobs has given way to outstanding degree and certificate programs throughout the country. From bachelor’s degrees for aspiring AI scientists and engineers to master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs for practicing engineers and scientists, as well as career changers, AI degrees are becoming widely available in many colleges and universities. And because many of these programs are offered in online formats, students are no longer limited to programs that are located nearby.

AI bachelor’s degrees provide the ideal foundation for future engineers and scientists. Largely offered in schools of computer science or engineering, these programs feature a heavy math core that includes courses like linear algebra, probability, and calculus. AI courses often include machine learning, data analytics, computer vision, and algorithms.

AI master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs are also often designed as part of engineering or computer science degrees, although some may be offered as interdisciplinary, stand-alone degrees that draw from many schools and departments across a university. Many AI graduate degrees offer opportunities to specialize. For example, an MS in AI through an engineering department may include opportunities to specialize in areas like biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, or mechanical engineering, while an MS in AI through a computer science department may include opportunities to specialize in areas like cybersecurity, robotics, smart manufacturing, or augmented/virtual reality.

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 March 2024.