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Highest Paying Jobs in Chicago, Illinois

Updated on November 5, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that Chicago, Illinois, held steady as the third most populated city in the United States, despite losing population from 2000 to 2010.

  • The city showed 3.58 million jobs averaging $49,030 per year, or $23.57 per hour., as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Compare these figures with the mean $58,500 yearly, or $28.13 hourly made by the 5.06 million workers in New York City, New York, the most populated metropolis. Or the mean annual $51,660, or $24.84 per hour made by all 3.82 million employees in Los Angeles, California.
  • Average wages for all 128.27 million workers in the country were $45,230 per year, or $21.74 per hour.


The highest paid professionals in Chicago were the 1,510 surgeons who received a mean $249,070 yearly, or $119.74 per hour.

  • The top six jobs in the city belonged to medical practitioners including anesthesiologists, general internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, family and general practitioners, and pediatricians.
  • Average pay ranged from a yearly $221,430, or hourly $106.45, for anesthesiologists to $175,330 per year, or $84.29 per hour, for pediatricians.
  • The high salaries for these jobs were justified by their responsibility over patients’ lives. These jobs have some of the longest training periods of any profession, ranging from 11 to 19 years, depending on medical specialty.

Chief Executives

In seventh place for pay, the 12,300 chief executives averaged $173,060 per year, or $83.20 per hour.

  • These professionals determine the direction and strategies that organizations follow to achieve maximum profitability and efficiency.
  • The job typically demands a bachelor’s degree, though many CEOs also have a master’s degree in business administration.
  • CEOs require many years of experience at increasingly responsible tasks. For example, an employee may start out as programmer before progressing to a team leader in charge of completing an entire project. He may then become a supervisor who trains and motivates other programmers, and progress to a department manager who determines policies for a part of the corporation. From here, he may become one of the top executives who is eventually rewarded with the highest job level.


Judges occupied the eighth pay rank, with mean annual wages of $162,720 per year, or $78.23 per hour, and 650 total positions.

  • They preside over trials, and determine legal decisions while ensuring due process.
  • They typically work for governments at the local, state and federal levels. They may be appointed or elected to their positions.
  • Some of their specific job titles include magistrate, justice of the peace, hearing officer, arbitrator or appellate court judge.
  • Minimum requirements include a law degree and experience working as a lawyer.


Only 40 mathematicians worked in Chicago to receive mean compensation of $151.960 per year or $73.06 per hour.

  • They research and develop mathematical principals, and look for relationships between models to solve practical problems.
  • Types include applied mathematicians who use theory to solve practical problems such as in computing, and theoretical mathematicians who research math issues and increase basic knowledge.
  • A graduate degree is necessary for most positions, though bachelor’s degree holders can work in the government, or become high school or elementary school teachers with appropriate certification.
  • Those interested in teaching at the college level or engaging in pure research need a Ph.D.

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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Interesting. It's not a surprise that the highest paid jobs in Chicago are in the medical field, and surgeons at that. Voted up!

    • sharingknowledge profile image

      SHAR NOR 4 years ago from Miami, FL

      How i wish i did Mathematicians. This would mean higher earnings for me courtesy of my Job but still, I am far from the US. Thank you for sharing the great info.

    • vinayak1000 profile image

      vinayak1000 4 years ago from Minneapolis

      Nice! I live in Chicago now and this is very useful for me. Voting up and useful!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I think I should have planned to become a mathamatician, I do love challenges. This pay is quite satisfactory! I am so enjoying reading all your posts on salary. Great research and facts posted.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Quite an interesting hub to learn the salaries of high end jobs. Votes up and useful.