10 Highest Paying Jobs in Illinois

Illinois is a beautiful state to visit, live, and work in. Learn more about the highest paying jobs in Illinois.

portrait of Emily Gillespie-Lord
by Emily Gillespie-Lord

Published August 8, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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10 Highest Paying Jobs in Illinois
Image Credit: Adam Jones / Stone / Getty Images

Illinois is home to the third largest city in the United States, ice cream sundaes, and more nuclear power generated than any other state. Workers enjoy a variety of careers in Illinois including medicine, law, and technology.

Obstetricians and surgeons are some of the highest earners in the state, however, other workers can also pursue high-earning positions. Well-paid Illinoisans can enjoy all the culture, recreation, and entertainment the state offers without financial stress.

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Working and Living in Illinois

Illinois is a wonderful place to live and play with arts, history, and a combination of city life and the great outdoors. The cost of living index in Illinois is 93.4, lower than the national index of 100. The median household income in Illinois was $68,430 as of 2020, but many state residents earn more.

Those who live and work in Illinois will find housing prices below the national average. You can expect to spend over $57,000 less than in other states with higher living costs. Outside of the metropolitan areas, Illinois is home to charming small towns.

The best places to work in Illinois include big cities like Chicago, Springfield, and Champaign-Urbana. Many students study in Illinois, with the state's best colleges in urban and rural settings. Graduates will find no shortage of in-demand industries and jobs.

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Illinois?

Some of the highest-paying fields in Illinois include medicine, law, and technology. The careers listed below typically require applicants to possess undergraduate degrees or higher and years of experience. However with half of the positions on this list earning over $200,000 a year, pursuing higher education may be worth it to secure a job in the Prairie State.

All salary and growth data is sourced from the BLS.

Obstetrics and Gynecologists

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $364,800
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: -2%

Obstetrics and Gynecologists (OBGYNs) are physicians who specialize in childbirth, pregnancy, and general reproductive health. They diagnose and provide treatment for cancer, menopause, and fertility issues. OBGYNs also provide patient education for family planning and safety.

While nationwide job growth is projected to fall slightly from 2020-2030, this is likely due to the rise in certified nurse midwives (CNM), nurse practitioners (NP), and physician assistants (PA). It takes a minimum of 10 years to become a physician.

Nurse Anesthetists

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $250,280
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 13%

A nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to surgical patients. CRNAs determine the amount of drugs a patient needs to remain safe during a medical procedure. To be a CRNA, you must be compassionate and calm while working with patients and your surgical team.

CRNAs typically must possess an MSN or master's degree in nursing and at least one year of experience as a registered nurse (RN) in a critical care setting. RNs looking for a career change can become CRNAs with a few additional years of college.

Chief Executive Officers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $244,390
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: -6%

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) typically possess bachelor's degrees related to the fields they work in, and many hold MBAs.

CEOs are responsible for the overall direction of a company. The exact details of the position depend on the company and its structure, but the decisions a CEO makes can change a company's future for better or worse. All other positions are supervised by the CEO, including other high-level positions, such as presidents.

Judges, and Magistrate Judges, Magistrates

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $210,120
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 3%

Most judges and magistrates begin their careers as attorneys, working in either prosecution or defense. Communication and critical thinking skills are vital for law students, lawyers, and judges.

After gaining experience as an attorney, lawyers can seek appointment or election to the bench and serve as judges. In many states, judges are required to complete continuing education. Illinois is the second highest-paying state for judges.

Airline Pilots

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $193,820
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 14%

Airline pilots are responsible for not only navigating and flying the plane, but also ensuring the safety of their passengers. They ensure the plane is operational and adjust flight patterns for changing weather forecasts and other unforeseen events.

To become a commercial pilot, you need a bachelor's degree in aerodynamics; many hopeful pilots also choose business, transportation, or engineering degrees. Then, you must complete an FAA-approved flight program.

Computer and Information Systems Managers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $152,820
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 11%

Computer and Information Systems Managers (IT managers) are responsible for analyzing their company's computer-related needs and goals. They develop plans for hardware and software installations, security maintenance, and cost-benefit analysis reports.

You need to have a deep love and knowledge of computers for this job. IT managers typically possess years of work experience and a bachelor's degree in computer information technology or a related field.

Lawyers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $148,280
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 9%

Lawyers, also known as attorneys, work as advocates or advisors for individuals, businesses, or governmental agencies during legal disputes. In a trial, attorneys represent one side of a legal dispute and offer evidence to argue for their client. Lawyers also offer counsel to their clients on legal matters both personally and in business.

To become a lawyer, you must complete a bachelor's degree program followed by three years in law school.

Air Traffic Controllers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $145,470
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 4%

To become an air traffic controller, you must be at or under age 30 and a U.S. citizen. You must also have three years of progressive employment, a bachelor's degree, or a combination of the two. You must pass the FAA air traffic employment test along with medical exams and background checks.

Air traffic controllers direct aircraft traffic on the ground and in the sky, including takeoffs and landings. These professionals relay important information to pilots. Illinois is the third highest-paying state for air traffic controllers, with the highest salaries reported in Chicago.

Financial Managers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $143,300
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 17%

Financial managers need to have a good relationship with numbers. A great deal of their time is spent studying data and examining financial trends. They use their expertise in tax laws and industry specifics to help their clients. Financial managers budget and manage risk to ensure their clients maximize their profits. Jobs for financial managers are projected to grow 17% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS, outpacing many other fields.

To become a financial manager, applicants typically need a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or a related field.

Marketing Managers

2021 Illinois Average Annual Salary: $139,010
2020-2030 U.S. Job Outlook: 10%

For most jobs in marketing and advertising, applicants need a bachelor's degree. Marketing managers may also earn their degrees in business or communications. Illinois ranks third in the U.S. for the highest concentration of marketing managers with most of them employed in the Chicago area.

Marketing managers plan advertising campaigns and develop strategies to build interest in a product or service. They create and implement budgets, and work with and manage a creative team. Analytical thinking and creativity are both important for this job.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Highest Paying Jobs in Illinois

What is a good salary for Illinois?

A "good salary" depends on where you live in the state and the kind of lifestyle you want to live. A competitive salary might be considered anything above $68,428, which was the median household income in Illinois as of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The overall cost of living in Illinois is lower than the national average, but some areas are more expensive than others. The average home cost in the state is below the national average, while transportation costs are above average.

What is the minimum wage in Illinois?

As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage for Illinois was $12 per hour. Tipped employees earn 60% of the minimum wage, and employees under the age of 18 who work less than 650 hours per year have a minimum wage of $9.25.

Working full time at $12 per hour does not even reach half of the yearly median wage in Illinois, though it is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation to increase the state's minimum wage by a dollar yearly until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025.

What is the most popular job in Illinois?

According to the BLS, the most popular job type in Illinois is administrative support. This includes positions such as office workers, secretaries, switchboard operators, and many other jobs.

Illinois ranks fifth in the U.S. for the highest rate of administrative support staff, with an annual mean wage of $44,370. This wage is just above the estimated national average of $43,430.

Just below administrative support staff on the list included jobs in material transportation, bus driving, and aircraft cargo handling.

What is the average cost of living in Illinois?

Those living and working in Illinois enjoy a lower average cost of living compared to other parts of the U.S. The cost of living in Illinois is 93.4 compared to the national index of 100. Costs in Illinois are highest in transportation and miscellaneous costs such as clothing, restaurants, and entertainment.

The median house price in Illinois is $234,000, which is $57,700 less than the national median house price of $291,700. The cost of living is higher in larger cities. The cost of living in Chicago is 106.9, with housing and miscellaneous costs as the highest expenses.

Where are the most jobs in Illinois?

Most jobs in Illinois are in areas with large populations. The Chicago Metropolitan Area has a population of over 9.4 million.

According to the BLS, the Chicago area ranks fifth in the U.S. for the highest rate of air traffic controllers, who make an annual average wage of $158,210 in the state. Chicago-area air traffic controllers earn a higher average wage than those in any other metropolitan area listed.

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