Chicago skyline


The lake view city of Chicago has always been a hub of bustling activity. The Windy City has now risen to become one of the largest tech hubs of the United States. From startups to major corporations, almost everyone in the tech industry has at some point called Chicago home. 


With tech jobs in general offering larger payouts than ever before, it’s no surprise that in a place such as Chicago, coders can bring in a huge amount of money for their services. With the tech industry in the Windy City continuing to grow, prospective coders from all over the world are flocking to the tech capital of the Midwest for a chance to cash in and change the world through code. So, just how much are Chicago’s coders racking up? 


Tech Job Trends in Chicago


Chicago sign


Tech Job Availability in Chicago is higher than ever!


Before we dive into Chicago’s coding salary specifics, we need to take a step back and look at the city’s tech scene as a whole. As stated previously, Chicago has consistently been a hub for technological innovation in the United States for the past several decades. From Lake Shore Drive to the suburbs, every part of the city is immersed in code, tech, and pure innovation. Many tech companies and startups who are looking for a central location in the heart of the Midwest but still want the hustle and bustle of a major city, decide to call Chicago home.


Chicago by Numbers 


What do you think of when you hear about the city of Chicago? Do you think of hotdogs and deep-dish pizza? Or do you think of the stunning views of Lake Michigan? While it might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Windy City, the fact is that Chicago’s tech scene is booming. As the third-largest city in the US with almost 3 million people, it’s easy to see why Chicago is a hub of action. 


Chicago has always been a major bustling hub of industry. As a major port city, Chicago has always been a center of action and jobs. With the founding of the Chicago Stock Exchange back in 1882, the city took on a different view of economics and job availability. The city remains today as one of the most culturally and job diverse cities in the world. With multiple industries including manufacturing, finance, and tech all booming, the city is a constant nonstop whirlwind of innovation. 


The Chicago tech scene experienced growth in over 6,000 more available jobs this year alone. The current average salary for tech workers in Chicago was around $82,000 in 2019. This number of course merely reflects an average and is not based on specific industry jobs. The Chicago metro area currently has the sixth-largest pool of tech workers in America with around 166,000 tech workers residing and working in the area. Chicago is also the sixth-highest technology degree producing city with 7,400 graduates last year alone. 


Salary Breakdowns


Business newspaper


Tech remains one of the most lucrative career markets in the world.


Now that we’ve gotten a bit of background in regards to how big Chicago’s tech scene actually is, you’re probably ready to get down to the important stuff. With so many jobs and so much demand for qualified technical experts, how much money is there to be made in the tech economy of Chicago? The short answer… a lot. To better delve into the salary definitions of tech workers in Chicago, let’s break this down by job type. 


1. Data Scientists – $109,000 (tied)


As the name might suggest, the life of a technical Data Scientist pretty much revolves around one thing; data! Data Scientists are responsible for making sense of large amounts of data and breaking this information down into understandable terms. Data Scientists may spend large amounts of time collecting, cleaning, organizing, and interpreting data. Data Scientists are also responsible for building algorithms that collect and optimize data as well as continuously innovating ways that their company extracts, stores, and organizes data. 


Anyway, enough about data…let’s talk about a different kind of number. For such a complicated and prestigious technical job, you could imagine that companies would pay massive amounts of money for Data Science positions. Again, you’d be right.


The average Data Scientist salary in Chicago is $109,000 per year. This, of course, does not include any bonuses, stock options, or fancy office perks and upgrades. On the low end, Data Science newbies earn around $85,000. Seasoned Data Scientists can potentially earn as much as $141,000 per year. If you’re a master of all things numbers and love solving complex problems, Chicago’s massive and lucrative Data Science industry may be just the career for you! 


2. Cyber Security Engineer – $109,000 per year (tied)


With so much technological innovation in the world and new applications being developed every day, it only makes sense that someone should protect these sites and other users from anything malicious that may be lurking in the background. That’s where Cyber Security Engineers come in. 


Everyone from major corporations to start-ups and even the United States government has a need for Cyber Security Engineers. With developers and engineers working so hard to build such wondering programs, trustworthy and talented Cyber Security Engineers are needed to protect them. 


The average salary of a Cyber Security Engineer in Chicago is $109,000. This does not include perks, bonuses, stocks, or free lunches. 


The starting salary for a Cyber Security Engineer in Chicago is around $80,000 per year. Seasoned Chicago Cyber Security Engineers can earn as much as $135,00 per year. If you’re passionate about user protection and are ready for the challenge of protecting applications from the internet’s most malicious hackers, look no further than a stable job in Chicago’s Cyber Security market. 


3. DevOps Engineers – $105,000 per year


DevOps Engineers are one of the lesser-known yet highly important careers of the tech industry. DevOps Engineers are essentially jacks of all trades and are trained in a variety of coding languages and skills. DevOps Engineers manage databases and coordinate with different Software Engineers and IT professionals to ensure that all systems are functioning properly. DevOps Engineers routinely test different code segments, implement changes and updates to programs, and script different elements of code to build and maintain a functional application. 


The average salary for a DevOps Engineer in Chicago is $105,000 per year. This, of course, does not include any bonuses, stock options, or office perks. 


The low-end salary of a DevOps Engineer is $81,000. Seasoned DevOps Engineers can earn as much as $134,000 per year. 


4. Software Developers – $87,000


As the creative minds behind some of the most prominent programs on the internet and beyond, Software Developers are responsible for working technical magic and putting raw ideas into code and churning out beautiful programs to be enjoyed by millions of users. While this is definitely a job with a ton of responsibility, the payout is pretty outstanding. 


The average Software Developer salary in Chicago is just under $87,000 per year. This, of course, does not include any end of year bonuses, company stock options, or standard office perks like free food, transportation, and those weird looking nap pod things. 


With a starting salary of $65,000 per year, Junior Software Developers are still making a great income before they rise through the ranks of their respective careers. With an average max salary of $117,000 per year, the numbers absolutely speak for themselves when pondering if Software Development in Chicago might be a lucrative career. If you’re looking to create innovative and potentially world-changing programs all while living in one of the most culturally diverse and lively cities in the world, rest assured that you’ll be making a pretty lucrative living while you’re coding away at your trendy new office! 


5. UX/UI Design – $85,000


User Experience or User Interface Design refers to the accessibility and overall look of a webpage. Again, this is one of those tech careers that you don’t think about too much until you encounter a website that lacks a UX/UI touch. 


We’ve all seen those clunky and hard to use websites and applications. Not only are they super displeasing to the eye, but they’re also sometimes so awful that users can’t even fully experience them. UX/UI Designers are responsible for the way a website/application looks, feels, and interacts with the user. With the growing number of websites/applications available, this career is definitely one that is here to stay. 


The average salary for a UX/UI Designer in Chicago is around $85,000 per year. This doesn’t include bonuses, stock options, or additional perks. UX/UI Designers can make as low as $62,000 per year and as high as $114,000 per year. 


6. Mobile Applications Developer – $84,000 per year


As the name might suggest, Mobile Applications Developers are responsible for building applications and other content that is processed and received by mobile devices. Mobile Application developers are usually proficient in a variety of front end and backend languages as well as their desired mobile device’s operating system. 


The average salary for a Mobile Applications Developer in Chicago is around $84,000 per year. This, of course, does not include any bonuses, stock options, or perks. Salaries for this particular position can range from $66,000 to $105,000 per year. 


7. Full Stack Developer – $79,000


Full Stack Developers are another essential “jack of all trades” in the tech industry. You may have heard the terms “front end” and “backend” development. In short, front end developers create the side of applications that users can actually see. This includes the wording, pictures, and overall interactivity of a web page.


Backend web developers focus on the “server” side of applications. Whenever you browse the internet or click on a website, the application must communicate with a variety of servers and networks to reroute your computer to the proper channels in order for you to actually view the webpage that you’re looking at. Backend developers are responsible for making sure all that communication happens and users are able to get to where they need to go in the quickest amount of time possible. 


Full Stack Developers combine the skills of both front end and backend developers. That means that Full Stack Developers have the ability to build both the user and server sides of applications. This job is continuing to rise in demand as companies are eager to look for well-rounded individuals that can both build and maintain quality websites and applications.

The average salary for a Full Stack Developer in Chicago is around $79,000 per year. This doesn’t include any perks, bonuses, or stock options. Salaries range from $61,000 to $106,000 per year. 


How Does This Benefit You? 


People watching the sunset


How does all this info affect your career goals? 


I’ll be honest, that was a lot of information. If you’re new to coding or are just considering switching careers to the tech industry, you may be wondering what this all means for you. Even if money isn’t your top priority when looking for a job in the Chicago tech scene, knowing the top salary trends of the Windy City’s tech jobs can help you decide which career path may be the most stable and successful option for you.


 As you continue to grow throughout your coding journey, keeping yourself informed of the industry’s latest happenings will be absolutely vital to your career success. 

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