Finding a job in Chicago
Updated 2023-10-04 07:37

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. There are also hundreds of foreign-owned companies operating in Chicago, which can be good news for job-hunting expats – especially those who might already be working for such a company and be able to arrange a transfer. 

Like most places, the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on Chicago's economy but things are slowly bouncing back and, despite some difficult periods, things are looking generally positive for the Windy City.


Anyone wanting to work in the US 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, and 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 in Chicago

Chicago is home to the offices of 35 companies on the Fortune 500 list and hundreds of other corporate headquarters such as McDonald's, Mondelez International, Walgreens and others. There are multiple financial exchanges and it ranks as the third most competitive financial center in the US. Due to its Midwest location, Chicago is also a US transportation hub for both people and goods.

Finance and business

Chicago is famous for its financial sector, housing the headquarters of major banks and financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Fifth Third Bank, BMO Harris Bank, Northern Trust, and the US Bank. The city is renowned for its derivatives and futures markets, with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) being a prominent player. Additionally, Chicago is a hub for business services, including consulting firms, accounting, legal services, and advertising agencies.

Engineering, transportation, and logistics

Situated in the heart of the Midwest, Chicago serves as a major transportation and logistics hub. The city's central location and extensive transportation infrastructure, including air, rail, and waterways, make it a natural centre for distribution, warehousing, and freight transportation. Jobs like flight and civil engineers, pilots, and safety inspectors are all well represented in the Chi-Town economy.


Chicago has a growing technology sector, with a focus on software development, IT consulting, and digital services. The city is home to numerous tech companies, start-ups, and incubators, fostering innovation and technological advancements. Because of the finance and government sectors present in the city, software developers, data scientists, and IT security jobs are all in high demand. The green technology sector is also growing. Following the city's “City in a Garden” initiative of 2012, Chicago has seen a steady development in sustainable technology. Some of the important names in this field include Sphera, Enablon, Goby, NETenergy and others.


Chicago's large metropolitan area means there are lots of primary and secondary schools as well as several large tertiary providers. As you might expect, Chicago has a thriving education industry, with a concentration of universities, colleges, and research institutions. The city is a hub for higher education and attracts students from around the world. Universities include the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, Roosevelt University, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Hospitals are among Chicago's largest employers as well as the home of many of the city's highest-paying jobs. Surgeons, general practitioners, anesthesiologists, dentists, and nurse educators are all in high demand. Medical institutions include Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

Labor market in Chicago

Following the pandemic, Chicago's labor market is trying to bounce back and in 2023, it's set to regain all the jobs lost during the pandemic. The unemployment rate for the Chicago metro area is sitting at around 4%. According to statistics, there have been more than 150,000 jobs added in the past year but wages in the Chicago metro area have stagnated. This follows country-wide trends but expats looking to move to Chicago should not be too disheartened, growth is expected in the next few years although it will likely be slow.

Read 'Labor market in the US' for more information.

How to find a job in Chicago?

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 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. Learn how to compose an American-style CV, and research companies that you're interested in before you apply, 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 CV builder. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a quarterly review of the unemployment rate and labour 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.