Chicago, Illinois is a large city located in the Midwest. It is the home of a diverse economy and a population numbering in the millions. Chicago, also referred to as the Windy City, is the beginning of the Historic Route 66 and was also the location of the first Ferris wheel. Some other nicknames assigned to the metro area include:
• The City of Big Shoulders
• The Second City
• The City That Works
The city is considered a central location for the east-west nexus that joins Europe and Asia, as well as the north-south nexus of NAFTA. Six Class I railroads connect in the city, and the airport system features service to over 200 international destinations making it one of the most connected airports in the country. Most business centers located in Europe can be reached by air in less than 10 hours, and flyers can reach almost any U.S. city and return to the Chicago area on the same business day.
With over 10 million individuals in the larger Chicagoland region, Chicago has the workforce necessary to support a diverse economy. In fact, the Chicago metro area is considered the most diversified economy in the United States. Over 400 major companies are headquartered in the city, including 31 businesses listed as part of the Fortune 500.
Chicago supports operations in a range of sectors including manufacturing, information technology, health services, and risk management. Additionally, the area supports some of the highest numbers of new and expanding corporate facilities in the nation. Most major data networks in the world intersect in the Chicago area. This makes it a prime location for information management and processing. When it comes to sheer volume, the local economy is larger than that of many entire nations. And operations are supported by a business-friendly climate and favorable cost-of-living ratios.
A city the size of Chicago offers educational options for those interested in most fields of study. Options include certificate and degree programs in various areas of business, finance, medicine, technology, and more. With the number of options available, most aspiring students can locate a school and campus that can meet their educational needs for the vast majority of career goals.
University of Illinois at Chicago
One of the largest universities in the city, the University of Illinois at Chicago is a four-year, public university offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree options to students. Over 17,500 undergraduates attend classes at the educational institution and the graduate level student body crosses over 11,400. It is also the only public research university in the Chicago area. The university is divided into 15 unique colleges and also features a health science and hospital system on campus. 83 bachelor’s degree programs are available including, but not limited to:
• Biomedical and Health Information Sciences
• Civil and Materials Engineering
• Educational Psychology
• Information and Decisions Sciences
• Rehabilitation Sciences
Alongside the baccalaureate options are 93 master’s degree programs and 64 doctoral degree options.
Depaul University is a four-year, private university offering educational programs ranging from certificate options to doctoral degrees. The university population includes almost 16,000 undergraduate students and over 7,500 graduate students.
Some of the unique facilities on campus include the environmental science and chemistry building, which is LEED-Certified and features a greenhouse and a green roof, as well as the digital cinema lab, which has a motion-capture system and green-screen studio. Additional research labs focus on artificial intelligence, mobile e-commerce, and biomedics informatics. Over 130 undergraduates programs are available as well as more than 175 graduate programs. Some of the offerings include:
• Actuarial Science
• Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies
• Real Estate
• Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse
Certain programs even offer combined bachelor’s and master’s degree options to expedite the process of obtaining an advanced degree.
City Colleges of Chicago
City Colleges of Chicago include multiple two-year schools focused on providing certificate and associate degree options to students. This college system is the largest in the state. In total, over 100,000 students attend courses through the seven colleges and six associated satellite locations. Each associated college focuses on specific subjects as follows:
• Harold Washington College: Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Services
• Harry S. Truman College: Education, Human Sciences, and Natural Sciences
• Kennedy-King College: Culinary Arts and Hospitality
• Malcolm X College: Health Sciences
• Olive-Harvey College: Transportation, Distribution, Logistics
• Richard J. Daley College: Advanced Manufacturing
• Wilbur Wright College: Information Technology
All of the primary college locations are within the Chicago city limits or greater metro area.
Loyola University Chicago
A private, four-year university, Loyola University Chicago is a mid-sized educational institution that offers certificate programs as well as degree options at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. Over 11,000 undergraduate students are associated with the university, and graduate enrollment is over 5,300. Loyola University Chicago features numerous unique features including a mock trial room, clinical simulation laboratory, a geothermal system, and artificial stream research facility. Over 80 undergraduate majors are available, along with more than 170 graduate and professional options. Some of the available majors include:
• Engineering Science
• Forensic Science
• Sport Management
The university also provides access to an Office for International Programs, helping students explore options for studying abroad.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private university and liberal arts college. It is considered a medium-sized institution and offers programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. The interdisciplinary approach to learning provides students unique options to explore and advance their fields of study through research and conceptual connection. The almost 5,800 undergraduate students and more than 7,100 graduate students have access to degree programs in a range of disciplines including, but not limited to:
• Biological Sciences
• Molecular Engineering
• Public Policy
• Social Service Administration
The university also maintains a global connection to help ideas flow more freely across international borders.
Chicago provides opportunities for numerous industries to flourish, creating a diverse economy. Most major sectors are represented within the city limits, ranging from financial services to government operations, and from manufacturing and production to healthcare.
One of the largest aerospace companies in the world, Boeing Co., operates in the Chicago area. The world headquarters is located in the city. High-level policy decisions as well as overall operational guidance are all managed in the area.
Other aerospace-oriented companies in the area include Rexel, Arrow Electronics, Accenture Inc. and FARO Technologies.
Chicago has one of the most established financial services sectors in the country. Founded in 1848, the Chicago Board of Trade represents the beginning of the commodity futures trading industry in the city and helped set the stage for the area to become a financial sector with global reach. Even as derivatives trading increases internationally, Chicago remains a geographic center for many trading activities. Other financial exchanges based in the city include the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Stock Exchange, and the NYSE Arca. One of the Federal Reserve Banks was also established in the city in 1914. Banks that maintain headquarters in the city include BMO Harris Bank, Chase, First Midwestern Bank, Northern Trust, and Wintrust Financial.
One of the largest employers in the Chicago area is the U.S. federal government. Positions exist for professionals with education and experience in a variety of positions. This includes administrative, information technology, science and energy, and more. Local government operations are also focused in the larger metro area. This includes city, county, and state government positions across a range of disciplines. For example, public parks and recreational spaces require management and regular care, creating positions for those experience in such diverse fields as city planning and general landscaping. Public transportation offices need employees skilled in transportation, and health departments also provide opportunities to those with medical knowledge who want to work outside of the traditional hospital or clinic environment.
The public school districts throughout the Chicago area function as large-scale employers in the region. The demand for teachers is often high, and a variety of administrative personnel are also required to keep the schools functioning. School nurses and counselors are also regularly sought to help keep the students safe, healthy, and focused. Colleges and universities also provide opportunities for those interested in teaching, but at a higher academic level. Additionally, administrative personnel are required to manage a range of duties. For example, those with an understanding of finance may find opportunities in financial aid offices, and IT professionals familiar with telecommunications, networking, and other key functions required within the facilities may also find employment with schools of any size.
Healthcare and Medical Services
Larger metro areas feature vast healthcare systems to provide for the needs of a sizable population. That includes large hospital facilities as well as smaller specialty clinics. Rush-Copley Medical Center, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and Methodist Hospitals make up some of the larger facilities operating in Chicago. Additionally, major drugstore and mail-order pharmaceuticals company Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. maintains operations in the nearby city of Deerfield.
Pharmaceutical and medical product manufacturers also call the Chicago area home, including Abbot Laboratories, Abbvie Inc., Baxter International Inc., and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
Major insurance companies operate in the Chicago area. Allstate, CNA Financial Corp., Old Republic International Corp., and State Farm have large operations in the area and serve as some of the metro area's larger employers.
The city of Chicago plays host to approximately 40 million people throughout the year. Between international business interests and traditional tourism, the hospitality industry must remain strong to keep pace with the demand. Short-term and extended stay hotels and motels can require sizable staffs to maintain operations, and a variety of restaurants and bars also support the larger hospitality industry.
With such a wide range of local industries, demand for employees in almost any field exists. Whether you are looking for entry-level positions, promotional opportunities, or the final stop in your career path, Chicago has opportunities for almost anyone. With the strength of the local banking and finance sector, those with experience or education in the field can find a number of opportunities in the area. Everything from bank tellers to fund managers to C-Level executives make up the workforce required to maintain operations at every level. Companies like Discover Financial Services and GE operate in the finance sector, and large accounting and consulting firms like KPMG also require employees with similar skill sets.
Employers in the area of healthcare also require a wide range of skill sets. Administrative and scheduling professionals often work alongside medical professionals with various levels of education and expertise. The insurance industry can also benefit from those with a thorough understanding of the medical industry, though some also employee specialists in other insurance fields. Major logistics and transportation companies like FedEx, W.W. Grainger, and Coyote Logistics help drive demand for warehouse personnel and truck drivers, as well as logistical managers and members of corporate operations.
Enjoy Working in Chicago
Chicago offers numerous opportunities for fun and entertainment. The Loop, the downtown area encircled by the “L” train, offers opportunities in the areas of art and culture, including various theaters and museums, and the city features public art projects associated with the renovation and construction of various government and municipal buildings in the city.
Free access to a large public zoo supports over three million visitors on an annual basis, and the Shedd Aquarium provides an indoor escape on windy days. The Field Museum of Natural History also provides a break from the norm and is a popular destination for children and adults of all ages. Outdoor attractions abound near the Chicago River, including the mile-long Riverwalk, and Millennium Park offers access to large open spaces in the heart of the city. Navy Pier also provides a unique outdoor experience for fun in the sun, especially for families with children.
With the diverse economy and broad range of employment and educational opportunities, Chicago has remained one of the largest metro areas in the entire United States. Professionals young and old flock to the area to take advantage of opportunities across the financial, healthcare, and aerospace industries, as well as the vast array of government positions that are based in the city.
Resources in Chicago: