A state that has long relied on agriculture, transportation, utilities, and manufacturing to support its economy, Kentucky has been making strides in recent years to foster the growth of its information technology industry. For example, the state's SBIR-STTR Matching Funds program is designed to promote small business innovation research and entrepreneurial growth by matching federal research grants. In the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, the state provided $2.7 million to nine different companies. This type of investment has led to the emergence of new tech industries, including clean technology, software and information technology, and advanced manufacturing.
The low cost-of-living and strong post-secondary educational system make Kentucky an attractive location for technology companies to set-up shop. CompTIA's 2015 report estimates that 3.7 percent of the state's economy can be attributed to the tech industry, and that number is moving upwards and to the right. Job growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Kentucky's tech occupations are strong -- with double-digit growth expected for most careers between 2012 and 2022. In the long run, Kentucky's investment into its information economy should present a wealth of employment opportunities for students considering an education in computer science.
Computer Science Education in Kentucky
|Institution Name||No. of Computer Science Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees||Admission Rate|
|Murray State University||3||$8,820||86.67%|
|Northern Kentucky University||2||$9,744||90.38%|
|Thomas More College||2||$30,270||91.23%|
Kentucky has an expansive and diverse array of postsecondary institutions, including the highly ranked University of Kentucky (#129 nationally) and University of Louisville (#168 nationally). In addition to major universities, Kentucky is also home to smaller, regionally ranked universities such as Asbury University (Wilmore), Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes), Centre College (Danville) and Murray State University (Murray). Overall, prospective students can select from a variety of postsecondary educational institutions that offer computer science programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Tech Industry and Career Outlook in Kentucky
|Career||Annual Mean Wage||Statewide Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Computer Network Architects||$77,950||12.2%|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$57,890||17.2%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$71,500||10.5%|
|Information Security Analysts||$83,890||N/A|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$64,320||6.8%|
|Software Developers, Applications||$86,300||33.4%|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||$84,300||21.7%|
Kentucky's business leaders and government have been working to develop the state's information economy. During the past decade, Lexington and Louisville have slowly started to emerge as tech hubs in the state. As a growing leader in information jobs, Lexington was ranked as #17 in Atlantic City Lab's list of the country's top 25 high-tech hotspots in 2014. The Bluegrass Business Development, a unique partnership between the University of Kentucky, Commerce Lexington Inc. and the city of Lexington have been working to attract new technology investments and companies to the region. Today, the city has brought in a number of software and other tech companies, including Xerox (3,000 employees), Lexmark (2,630 employees), Hewlett Packard (125 employees), Dell (20 employees), and IBM (500 employees).
The state has launched numerous other partnerships and investment programs, including the Kentucky Angel Investment Act Program. This program provides tax incentives of up to 50 percent to companies that create jobs and promote economic development. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, 160 investments have been approved to date. Evidence of continued recruitment efforts can be found in Northern Kentucky, where the support of the technology sector has led to significant growth in informatics, data management and software/hardware development. The region is now home to companies including Tier 1 Performance Solutions, Psion Teklogix and dbaDirect.
Business Insider, The Best 50 Computer Science and Engineering Programs in the Country, http://www.businessinsider.com/best-computer-science-engineering-schools-in-america-2015-7
CompTIA, 2015 Cyberstates, https://www.comptia.org/resources/2015-cyberstates
Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Business Climate, https://www.thinkkentucky.com/kyedc/pdfs/kybc.pdf
National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter
Projections Central, Kentucky, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Robert Half Technology, 2016 IT Salary Guide, http://www.roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/Media_Root/images/rht-pdfs/robert_half_technology_2016_salary_guide.pdf
Tri-County Economic Development Corporation, Information Technology, http://www.northernkentuckyusa.com/target-industry/information-tech.aspx
University of Kentucky, Computer Science Department, http://www.cs.uky.edu/
US News and World Report, Best Computer Science Graduate Programs, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/computer-science-rankings
US News and World Report, University of Kentucky, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-kentucky-157085/overall-rankings