Illinois has a population of a little over 12 million people, but more than half of that population lives in the Chicagoland area. This section of the state is expensive, with property taxes higher than those in most other states. If you want to live comfortably in Illinois, especially in the Chicagoland area, you’ll need a good job. Whether you’re looking to make a career move or planning what to major in during college, you’ll need to know the best paying jobs in Illinois.

The 7 Best Paying Jobs in Illinois

Most of the 7 best paying jobs in Illinois require higher education, so prepare yourself to invest in a college education to make the maximum salary available.


Best Paying Jobs in Illinois

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients with mental illness. They also prescribe medication and evaluate the effectiveness of that medication in their patients. To become a psychiatrist, you must have an M.D., which requires attending and graduating from medical school. Then, you must complete a four-year residency.

Psychiatrists in Illinois earn, on average, approximately $245,000 a year. The job outlook for psychiatrists is excellent because the aging population will need their assistance for age-related mental health issues. Psychiatrists are particularly in demand in small, rural areas of Illinois.

Investment Bankers

Investment bankers are financial advisors, not to individuals, but to corporations. They typically work long hours and need to interact with people all day long. Most investment banker jobs in Illinois are in the Chicagoland area, and they pay an average of $197,000.

To be an investment banker, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance or economics. Some also get a master’s degree, though that isn’t required.

Pain Management Physicians

Pain management physicians help individuals manage chronic pain from a variety of conditions. Like other doctors, they need to graduate from medical school and complete four years of residency. They make an average of $346,000 in Illinois.

Unfortunately, the job outlook for this career over the next 10 years is 3%, which is slower than many other careers. Jobs that open are expected to be replacements for retiring pain management physicians.

Fertility Specialists

Fertility specialists have many responsibilities. On a typical day, they may preserve eggs for a patient about to undergo cancer treatments, help a couple struggling with infertility, and screen for genetic diseases. In addition, they may need to occasionally work on weekends as IVF treatments are time-sensitive. Fertility specialists in Illinois earn an average of $240,000 a year.

Loan Officers

Loan officers evaluate and approve or deny loan requests. While some states require loan officers to have a bachelor’s degree, Illinois does not. Instead, you must complete 20 hours of training and get a license. Then, you can find a job as a loan officer at a bank, credit union, or mortgage company.

Loan officers make between $227,000 per year in the Chicagoland area to $184,000 in southern Illinois in the more rural areas. While this is a good paying job, the career is not expected to grow over the next ten years. Getting a job in this field may be competitive.


Ophthalmologists provide eye exams and treat many optical issues from cataracts to glaucoma to macular degeneration and a host of others. Like other doctors, ophthalmologists must complete a bachelor’s degree, medical school, and four years of residency.

Ophthalmologists in Illinois average $318,000 per year, and the career outlook is good with a faster than average growth in this field.


Neurologists specialize in brain and spinal cord diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and strokes. These doctors must complete the same type of education as other doctors as well as residency. The outlook for this career is very good; it is expected to grow by 11%. That may be because the aging population will develop more diseases that neurologists treat.

In the Chicagoland area, neurologists earn an average of $348,000, which is much better than the national average of $268,000.

Other Careers Expected to Grow in Illinos

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, there are many careers that are expected to grow rapidly in the next few years in Illinois but do not require a lot of education. Consider the following:


Recruiters are needed to find skilled labor to fill the many job openings that are open because of the pandemic. Typically, recruiters start at $55,000 and can increase by $20,000 in a few years.

Cannabis Compliance Manager

Best Paying Jobs in Illinois

Cannabis is now legal in Illinois as it is in many other states. Compliance managers play a vital role in keeping up with cannabis legislation and verifying a company is compliant with the law. These workers make an average of $66,000 a year.


One of the fastest-growing jobs in the tech field is cybersecurity. This specialist is hired by a company to protect data and sensitive records from data breaches. While cybersecurity experts need a four-year degree in cybersecurity, they can expect to make approximately $98,000 a year.

Social Media Manager

A social media presence is essential for most businesses today, which means they also need social media managers to curate content for their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. While this job can be fun for the right person, it also requires careful thought as a misstep can go viral and hurt the company’s image. Social media managers earn between $60,000 and $80,000 a year.

Final Thoughts

As one would expect, almost all of the best paying jobs in Illinois are ones that require the most education. Most of these jobs are in the medical field. However, being a loan officer does not require much education. In addition, you can find many other careers that don’t pay as much but still offer a living wage without many years of education.

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