What Are the Most In-Demand Jobs in Illinois?
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- The annual mean wage for all occupations in Illinois was $59,650 in May 2021.
- Some of the fastest-growing careers in Illinois are high school teacher, science technician, and social worker.
- Chicago is the city in Illinois with the most jobs.
Big cities and small towns. Crops and wildlife. Plus, some pretty impressive landmarks — whether you're thinking of Navy Pier or the World's Largest Catsup Bottle. The Prairie State has a lot to offer for tourists and residents alike.
The cost of living in Illinois is equal to or slightly lower than the cost of living in other states. And the job market is relatively good, too, with many high-paying jobs available in Illinois. The industries and fields in Illinois with the most employees include trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; and education and health services.
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Illinois Career Outlook
According to PayScale, the average salary in Illinois was $70,000 across all industries and job titles. In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the annual mean wage for all occupations in Illinois was $59,650.
As of June 2022, the unemployment rate in Illinois was 4.5% — a higher rate than much of the Midwest and most of the nation. This unemployment rate is the fifth highest in the U.S., and the state is still missing over 136,000 jobs compared to early 2020.
Luckily, if you're looking for a job in Illinois, there are still several industries and careers that are experiencing growth. Business services, healthcare and social assistance, hospitality, retail trade, and manufacturing are projected to be the largest employing industries by 2026.
Top 10 Fastest-Growing Careers in Illinois
High School Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $61,820
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 8%
High school teachers work in public or private schools teaching subjects to prepare students for college and/or their careers. To be a high school teacher, you'll need a bachelor's degree in the subject you want to teach. You'll also need to pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System and the edTPA. You might be a good high school teacher if you enjoy being around teenagers and you're good at communicating the subject you want to teach.
Median Annual Salary: $44,700
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 8%
There are multiple types of science technicians. You might choose to work as an agricultural and food science technician, a forensic science technician, or an environmental science and protection technician. Whichever direction you decide to take, you'll be working with data and laboratory procedures to answer questions and improve processes. The minimum education required for this field is an associate degree.
Median Annual Salary: $50,390
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 12%
Social workers are professionals who help people through challenges in life. They might work with vulnerable children, refugees and immigrants, or hospital patients. In some cases, you may be able to get a job as a social worker with a bachelor's degree. In most cases, however, you will need a master's degree in social work. Your bachelor's degree does not have to be in social work. Social workers need to be empathetic, trustworthy, and good at communicating with people from various backgrounds.
Special Education Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $61,820
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 8%
Special education teachers work with students with learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. Special ed teachers are needed in every grade from preschool through high school. They work closely with each student and their parents and teachers to develop an educational plan for them. They must have a bachelor's degree in an education-related field, such as special education or elementary education. The Illinois Board of Education also has additional licensure for different types of special education teachers.
Precision Agriculture Technicians
Median Annual Salary: $82,640
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 5%
Precision agriculture technicians use technology to help farmers grow their crops more easily. You'll use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to improve agricultural practices. For this job, you'll need a bachelor's degree in a field such as agricultural business or agronomy. Precision agriculture technicians must be comfortable working with data.
Automotive Electronics Installers
Median Annual Salary: $40,670
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 2%
Automotive electronics installers work with the navigation and communication equipment in cars. You might install, update, or repair equipment such as Bluetooth speakers or car alarms. Most installers work in car repair shops. The minimum education required is a high school diploma or GED, with additional car electronics certification preferred by many employers. This is a good entry-level job for anyone with a knack for electronics and cars.
Substance Use or Addiction Counselors
Median Annual Salary: $48,520
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 23%
Substance use or addiction counselors work with people who have addictions to drugs or alcohol. Employers include prisons, mental health centers, or private practices. These counselors need at least a master's degree. Psychology, counseling, and social work are helpful fields to study. Students can choose a specialization such as addiction recovery. Illinois licenses for addiction counselors include Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC).
Median Annual Salary: $37,170
2020-2030 Job Outlook: -5%
Assemblers work on a production line, assembling, creating, or repairing important parts. Most assemblers work in manufacturing plants. For many jobs, a high school diploma is the highest education required. You might make a good assembler if you have good dexterity and you care about quality control. You'll also need to be able to follow detailed instructions and blueprints and know how to use tools safely.
Median Annual Salary: $38,890 for school bus drivers; $48,620 for transit and intercity drivers
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 25%
As a bus driver, you'll help students or passengers get where they need to go. To become a school bus driver in Illinois, you must be at least 21 years of age; possess a valid driver's license from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, or Kentucky for three years immediately prior to the date of your application; and pass extensive testing including an Illinois written school bus driver permit test and a behind-the-wheel exam.
Median Annual Salary: $38,660
2020-2030 Job Outlook: 11%
Dental assistants work in dental offices performing tasks such as scheduling appointments, keeping records, and helping with patients. This job differs from dental hygienists — assistants focus more on administrative work, whereas hygienists examine patients and clean teeth. To become a dental assistant in Illinois, you will need to complete a dental assisting program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Frequently Asked Questions About the Most In-Demand Careers in Illinois
What jobs are the highest-paying in Illinois?
According to the BLS, some of the highest-paying positions in Illinois are chief executives, general and operations managers, and advertising and promotions managers. Other high-paying jobs in Illinois include marketing managers, sales managers, and public relations managers.
Chief executives made an annual mean wage of $244,390 as of May 2021. They plan and direct a company's operational activities. General and operations managers had an annual mean wage of $118,890 as of May 2021. This position plans and directs the operational activities of public or private sector organizations. The annual mean wage for advertising and promotions managers was $114,960 in May 2021. These managers are in charge of advertising campaigns.
Is it easy to get a job in Illinois?
Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, so it may be difficult to find a job as the state continues to recover from the pandemic and slowly adds new positions. Boost your chance of getting a job by focusing on one of the fastest-growing careers in the state. These include careers such as high school teacher, science technician, and social worker.
If you don't have much education and want to get a job right away, consider targeting a quickly-growing entry-level career — such as automotive electronic installer, bus driver, or assembler.
What city in Illinois has the most jobs?
Chicago and its metropolitan areas have the most jobs in Illinois. The local rate of job gain in Chicago is 4.7% — close to the 4.5% national rate. The industries experiencing the most gain are leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; and trade, transportation, and utilities.
Professional and business services added 39,900 jobs in the metropolitan area. Trade, transportation, and utilities added 33,200 jobs in Chicago, Illinois. If you are interested in landing a job and advancing in your career in Illinois, Chicago is a good place to be.
How do I get a job in Illinois?
You can find a job in Illinois by brushing up your resume, networking with industry professionals, and strategically preparing for interviews. Use a spreadsheet to track your job applications. This can help you determine where your resume might need some tweaks. Practice for job interviews in the mirror to fine-tune your body language and the way you answer questions.
The same advice applies for work from home jobs in Illinois. It can also be helpful to move to a city with a large number of jobs available (such as Chicago). You can also try getting a job in one of the state's fastest-growing careers, such as high school teacher, social worker, or automotive electronic installer.
What are the most popular entry-level jobs in Illinois?
Some of the fastest-growing entry-level jobs in Illinois are assembler, bus driver, and automotive electronics installer. Assemblers need a high school diploma. They work in manufacturing plants, assembling, creating, or repairing important parts.
Bus drivers might drive a school bus or a city bus. Qualifications include having a valid Illinois driver's license and passing a special driving test. Automotive electronic installers work in car repair shops to install or repair car equipment such as alarms or Bluetooth speakers. The minimum education required is a high school diploma or GED. These three entry-level jobs had median annual salaries between $37,000 and $40,000 as of May 2021.