Study Shows Where to Go to Find an AI Job

It’s a brave new world: we’ve got self-driving cars, airport robots helping you find your gate, and refrigerators that can tell you when you need milk. Regardless of their purpose, smart tech has more Americans attuned to the artificial intelligence (AI) landscape these days.

For many, that means excitement about the growing cache of AI jobs out there. It’s true that opportunities in AI are taking off, and a new study by moveBuddha shows hotspots where this niche job market is booming.

With California’s long-time dominance in tech and startups, it only makes sense that almost 25% of the country’s AI jobs are in the Golden State. But there’s plenty of gold to go around. Up-and-comers are competing for dominance, and two states even have more AI jobs per capita than California: Virginia and Maryland each have 6 jobs available for every 10,000 residents.

The study shows where AI jobs are taking off — and where job seekers might want to take off and relocate. This post shares more insight on what makes a state shine, and some ways digital tech watchers can predict future superstar AI locations.

Where are AI Jobs Growing?

It turns out that it’s pretty tough to knock a long-time tech king off its throne. With plenty of jobs, lots of jobs on a per-resident basis (which should put large states like California in perspective), and high salaries for engineers in AI, California is home to more AI jobs than other states. By a long shot.

But other states are seeing their share of the AI pie, too. Here’s the top ten list:
  1. California
  2. Virginia
  3. Washington
  4. Maryland
  5. Texas
  6. Colorado
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Missouri
  10. North Carolina

Best and Worst States Infographic

Why are AI Jobs Growing?

California’s longstanding position as #1 can be attributed to a number of factors:
  • Leading universities: With a research and talent pipeline, AI jobs bubble out of educational institutions.
  • Existing tech and AI companies: While new states are luring companies all the time, California has some high-profile heavy-hitters. From Meta to Google and Apple, AI jobs with these companies put the state on top. Note that #3 Washington is also home to existing large tech enterprises that are behind the high number of job openings, like Amazon and Microsoft.
  • A robust venture capital ecosystem: AI ventures are fairly new, and new companies need a nurturing system in which to develop ideas and grow. It all takes funding, so newcomers often follow that cash to places like Silicon Valley.
  • Network effects: With existing traction, AI players go where the action is. That creates more opportunities, ideas, new companies, and eventually, even more jobs.
What’s the lesson here? Some common elements help small ecosystems gain traction and grow as AI hubs. It starts with a research and capital commitment to AI. New cities that can anchor their digital tech industries with these two key elements can see their AI sectors growing.

Ranking the 50 U.S. states by best for AI jobs in 2024 Table

Virginia and Maryland’s Growing AI Hubs

It can be difficult to replicate California's magic elsewhere, but some strong AI hubs are capitalizing on these core factors and their own strengths to make it happen.

For example, #2 Virginia is a powerhouse near national government services and contractors. They’re strong in industries like defense, where AI is becoming indispensable. Northern Virginia, in particular, plays host to a network of defense, cybersecurity, and intelligence firms. And those companies could easily kick-start the network effects that catapulted California to the top of the tech industry.

Further, Northern Virginia has also been a hub for data centers. Outside the pricy reaches of the D.C. beltway, the expansive Virginia suburbs provide space to support the nation’s computing needs. That’s led to hardware and software experts finding jobs and support in the area. It may be inevitable that those who specialize in machine learning are now finding their services in high demand there.

There are also strong universities including those in Washington, D.C., and nearby Maryland (which also makes the top ten list).

Other Top Ten Keys for Unlocking AI Jobs

Why are other states on the top ten list? Here are some big components of their success:
  • Texas plays host to large tech giants: Dell, IBM, and Texas Instruments have long had large presences in the state. Oracle, Hewlett Packard, and Tesla have moved their headquarters from California.
  • CU Boulder (Colorado) scored a huge grant for an AI learning center that led to collaborations with students, industry, and researchers. It’s all growing the area’s research prowess but also network effects and talent pool. It’s also 8th in the country in venture capital investment.
  • Massachusetts’ universities feed its AI pipeline: Harvard, M.I.T., and a host of East Coast ivies feed this biggest city in New England, keeping the talent coming. Its venture capital network ranks second, behind California, to keep that talent and companies in the state, learning and growing.
  • Pennsylvania boasts Carnegie Mellon University, with a top computer science department and a long history of AI research. There’s also the University of Pennsylvania, a public Ivy League brainiac.
  • Missouri AI job listings come from a diverse group of companies across industries. That economic foundation has helped spawn Kansas City and St. Louis tech incubators to nurture more talent. It seems to be paying off.
  • North Carolina has a growing population, and is especially focused on cybersecurity sectors in banking hubs like Charlotte, while the north of the state has the “research triangle,” including reputable research universities churning out not only AI tech patents but a startup ecosystem to nurture the companies that emerge from its universities.
While none of these emergent competitors comes close to the amount of support California companies have enjoyed, they’re on their way. And as California has shown, once there are a few players in the area, a hub attracts new talent, companies, and capital more easily. In the case of AI, tech hubs all over the country have begun finding they’re able to fuel growth outside the Bay Area.

That diversity is great for jobs and for job seekers who aren’t into fog, or who are seeking better housing prices, fewer earthquakes, a different climate, or just want to realize their company’s potential without uprooting from their favorite states.

Where to Go to Become an AI Superstar

If you’re looking for a job in AI, consider educational hubs. They often come with the young energy of new companies, research support, and startup incubators. Not only are college towns great places for big arts and cultural innovation. They’re also bubbling over with tech ideas and have the educational resources to support them.

AI engineers who aren’t interested in startups should also look to corporate roles. After all, AI is going to play a role in company growth regardless of whether a company is a tech power or a design house. Even pet food firms are getting in on AI, with data learning behind everything from inventory to security and beyond. These roles are growing in more diverse sites across the country, including Charlotte, North Carolina, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Overall, AI job seekers are in a stronger spot than ever. AI jobs are becoming increasingly common everywhere, and pretty soon candidates may not have to ask, “Where should I move?” at all, but will have their choice of multiple remote jobs in the industry no matter where they choose to call home.

In the meantime, job seekers should watch job listings in states with strong education and industry connections. Or, perhaps obviously, train their AI to do it for them.

Read next: These White Collar Jobs Will Be the Most Affected by AI
Previous Post Next Post