The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Illinois's population in 2013 at 12,882,135. More than 40 percent of the state's population is concentrated in Cook County, especially in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metropolitan area. The city of Chicago, with an estimated 2,718,782 people, continues to be the third most populous city in the U.S., trailing only New York City and Los Angeles, according to 2013 Census Bureau estimates. Illinois added 105,496 jobs between May 2013 and May 2014, according to the BLS. As of May 2014, Illinois had a civilian workforce of 6,551,500. More than 77 percent of the state's workers were employed in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area, and they earned an average of $49,210 annually. The average wage in Illinois was $47,680 for all occupations.
Jobs in construction, professional and business services, and health care saw the greatest gains in the spring of 2014 in the Chicago area. Other service businesses have also seen job growth. Manufacturing has not yet had a significant rebound in job growth since the latest recession; however, major U.S. manufacturers that are located in Illinois include Caterpillar, Ford, John Deere, Chrysler, Navistar, Tenneco and Kraft Foods.
Vocational schools in Illinois: training for jobs in demand
A look at the top 25-ranked employers in the state by number of employees gives you an idea of where the job opportunities are in Illinois. Insurance firms, universities, medical centers/hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies dominate the list compiled for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. They employ between 5,000 and 13,000 people each.
Occupations in some of those industries, especially health care, are projected to have a continued high rate of job growth through 2020:
- Biomedical engineers. 50.71 percent growth
- Emergency medical technicians and paramedics. 26.73 percent growth
- Occupational therapist assistants. 25.80 percent growth
- Diagnostic medical sonographers. 25.41 percent growth
- Paralegal and legal assistants. 22.29 percent growth
- Respiratory therapists. 14.17 percent growth
- Cardiovascular technologists. 12.77 percent growth
With the exception of biomedical engineers, these are jobs that typically require two years or less of training, which you may get from vocational schools in Illinois or from online programs available to Illinois students.
Jobs that may require less than a four-year degree and which are expected to have a high number of job openings yearly through 2020 include the following (with May 2013 average annual earnings :
- Registered nurses: 2,018 jobs annually; $66,730 average annual earnings
- Home health aides: 1,442 jobs annually; $23,320 average annual earnings
- Personal care aides: 835 jobs annually; $21,920 average annual earnings
- Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 560 jobs annually; $28,260 average annual earnings
- Emergency medical technicians and paramedics: 314 jobs annually; $49,340 average annual earnings
- Computer user support specialists: 311 jobs annually; $51,320 average annual earnings
- Medical assistants/secretaries: 259 jobs annually each; $31,230 and $34,160, respectively, average annual earnings
- Paralegals and legal assistants: 226 jobs annually; $49,050
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians (HVAC), dental hygienists and radiologic technologists also earn well above the average wage in Illinois, and completion of coursework typically takes two years or less. if you are looking for a career with a short training period and either a good income and/or plenty of job openings in the next few years, contact some of the vocational schools in Illinois for more information.
American FactFinder, U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places of 50,000 or More, Ranked by July 1, 2013 Population, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk
Illinois Statewide Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004-2014, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST170000000000005?data_tool=XGtable
Economy at a Glance, Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI, July 22, 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.il_chicago_msa.htm
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, March/April 2014 Newsletter, http://www.illinois.gov/dceo/DCEONewsletter/March%20April%202014%20DCEO%20Reporter.pdf
State Profile: Largest Employers, Illinois, CareerOneStop for U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, http://www.acinet.org/oview6.asp?soccode=&stfips=17&from=State&id=&nodeid=12
Illinois Department of Employment Security, Statewide Employment Projections, long-term, (2010-2020), http://www.ides.illinois.gov/LMI/Pages/Employment_Projections.aspx
Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Illinois, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.il_chicago_msa.htm