Updated 2 weeks ago

Chicago is one of the largest cities and economies in the United States. Its unique Midwest location means there is a broad range of jobs, from finance and business to agricultural management and transportation engineering. The diverse economy also extends to business origins, as there are hundreds of foreign-owned companies operating in Chicago. All these factors are good news for job-hunting expats.

 Important: Anyone wanting to work in the U.S. is required to have a work visa and it can be one of the biggest challenges faced by expats looking for employment abroad. The process must be initiated by a sponsoring employer and is time-consuming and expensive. This means you must have an offer of employment before you may begin the visa application process. That said, expats with advanced degrees, specialized skills and who are fluent English speakers will fare better than most when it comes to finding an employer willing to go through the sponsorship process. See the article “Work visas in the USA” for more information about types of work visas in the United States. 

Popular Industries

Chicago is home to the offices of 31 companies on the Fortune 500 list and hundreds of other corporate headquarters such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Deloitte, Boeing, and United Airlines. There are multiple financial exchanges and it ranks as the third most competitive financial center in the U.S. Because of its Midwest location, Chicago is also a U.S. transportation hub for both people and goods. Some of the other top Chicago area industries are listed below.

Engineering and Transportation

Chicago is a hub for trains, and public and commercial airlines, as well as the manufacture of food products. Jobs like flight and civil engineers, pilots, and safety inspectors are included in this industry.


Because of the finance and government sectors, software developers, data scientists, and IT security jobs are all in high demand.


Chicago's large metropolitan area means there are lots of primary and secondary schools as well as several large universities. Education positions of all levels are a steady area of employment.


Hospitals are among Chicago’s largest employers as well the home of many of the city’s highest paying jobs. Surgeons, general practitioners, anesthesiologists, dentists, and nurse educators are all in high demand.

Labor Market

Chicago’s labor market has shown slightly upward trends over the past year, although employment growth remains below the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses and professional services saw the largest influx with a 1.3% growth. Other industries include education and health services, government, information, and construction. The manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities sectors both saw losses. Unemployment in the Chicago metropolitan area is around 4.7%.

Read “Labor Market in the U.S.” for more information.  

Finding a job

Local resources are the best place to begin your employment search. Look at job search engines that are specifically focused on Chicago and at local newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune (these are online as well). If you belong to a specialized or in-demand industry, research and contact a local recruiting agency to build connections. Additionally, leverage your personal network and membership in professional organizations as this is the best way to hear about newly listed or unadvertised jobs.

When sending out your resume (CV), you really must stand out from the crowd. Besides updating your resume to reflect the American style, research companies that you’re interested in before you apply, so as to highlight the skills and experience that would most interest them. Also, ensure that your LinkedIn and business networking profiles reflect these same changes. See the article “Finding a Job in the USA” for more information about job searching.

 Good to know: The official City of Chicago website offers free career services including information about career fairs and a resume (CV) builder. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a quarterly review of the unemployment rate and labor market, which may be helpful with your job search.

 Useful Links:

USCIS: working in the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Midwest information
City of Chicago website - Labor Services
Chicago Tribune Job Ads
Chicago Jobs
Jobs in Chicago
Chicago Job Resource

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.