Want a job in AI? Start at your local community college

Jackie Snow

Fast Company

May 6, 2024

Community college

Amid fears that tech will erase jobs, more community colleges—and more tech companies—are banking on new two-year AI programs.

Josh Sinnott graduated from Arizona State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business. He worked various jobs, including a bakery, Charles Schwab, and a local startup. At 26, in 2020, he decided to enroll in an inaugural associate degree program in AI at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) outside of Phoenix.

“I was looking for a change of pace,” he said. “I wanted not only to upgrade and update my source of income, but I also had always loved tech.”

The two-year, $6,500 program included coursework in areas like database management, statistics, and Python coding, which Sinnott initially struggled with. “Even though it’s an associate [degree], I know a lot of the things that we were doing were more like Master’s level coursework,” he said.

After graduating in 2022, Sinnott had offers from companies like Google but ended up at Visalaw.ai, a legal startup building an immigration research tool for attorneys. He works in sales, where he earns “significantly” more than what he used to make, and that’s not counting commissions. Since it’s a small team, he also fills a role he compares to being an AI consultant, and he thinks he’s found his sweet spot.