Overview of the Fastest Growing Careers in Chicago

Learn about the predicted growth in the computer science, health care practitioner, and health care support fields in Chicago. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job prospects and job responsibilities to find out if these fields provide the career for you.

Essential Information

In the Chicago area, significant job growth was expected in the computer sciences and health care support fields. Both categories were predicted to grow more than 40% during a 10-year period. An analysis of Internet job postings at the end of 2011 also put health care and computer jobs in the top ten in the Windy City, along with others such as heavy truck drivers and marketing managers.

The Illinois Workforce Info Center, a division of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, listed occupations by their expected growth rates for the Chicago-Cook County area over the 2006-2016 decade (lmi.ides.state.il.us). The growth for computer science professionals during that time was expected to be 52%. Health care support jobs were expected to increase by 45%, and health care practitioners were close behind at 36%.

Computer Systems Analyst Dental Assistants Registered Nurse
Required Education Bachelor's degree Postsecondary non-degree award Associate's degree
Projected Job Growth-National (2012-2022) 25%* 25%* 19%*
Average Salary in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet Metro Area (2013) $80,360* $34,710* $71,670*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Science Careers

Responsibilities in the computer science profession range from software development, programming and problem-solving to data analysis, network systems management and database administration. Positions typically require a minimum of a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or a related technical area. Although not all types of computer jobs are found in high concentrations in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet region, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that area does fall into the top five metropolitan areas for highest employment for network administrators, computer support specialists, programmers, and computer systems analysts (www.bls.gov).

Health Care Support Careers

According to the BLS, the category of health care support workers includes, but is not limited to nursing aides, medical assistants, pharmacy assistants, occupational therapy assistants and dental assistants. The Chicago-Naperville-Joliet region is a solid location for jobs of this type. In May of 2010, for instance, the metropolitan area had the highest employment levels out of all metropolitan areas in the country for physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants, massage therapists and medical transcriptionists, and the region was in the top three in terms of employment levels for medical assistants, pharmacy aides and home health aides.

Health Care Practitioners

According to the BLS, there is a strong job outlook for health care practitioner positions, which include registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians and surgeons. According to a 2010 IDES study, registered nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists were among the 25 occupations with the most vacancies in Illinois. Many of these positions are in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area.

Immediate Job Prospects

The Chicago Workforce Investment Council, a partner of the nonprofit Chicago Jobs Council, ranked occupations by how many times they appear in thousands of job postings culled from Internet sources in late 2011 (www.cwic.org). The first ten occupations among the fastest growing careers on that list were:

  • Web developer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Heavy truck driver
  • Marketing manager
  • Sales manager
  • Accountant
  • Software engineer, applications
  • Executive assistant
  • Registered nurse
  • Management analyst

The first two occupations had over 4,000 job postings and the rest ranged above 2,000. Other notable jobs among the first 20 top occupations included: retail salesperson, 2,093 postings; network and computer system administrators, 1,967 postings; sales representatives, 1,705 postings; and computer programmer, 1,534 postings. The occupations of financial managers ended the list with 1,477 postings.

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