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Chicago: IT’s Fastest Growing City In USA

For years, IT professionals knew that Silicon Valley was the go-to city for career growth. The latest tech salary guide shows Silicon Valley slipping and Chicago as one of the US’ fastest growing cities for IT salaries and job positions. Chicago comes third after Seattle and Houston. In total, Chicago has over 133,000 tech jobs available to developers, which accounts for 3.5% of all US jobs.

What Tech Positions Pay the Most?

Most developers fall into one of two categories: back-end coder and front-end designer. Each of these jobs takes a particular skill set and experience. The type of development you do determines your salary cap.

Let’s first take a look at front-end development. Front-end developers actually create the UI/UX, and understand common user patterns that convert traffic to customers. These developers create “the pretty” that wows users. Recent years have seen an increase in JavaScript frameworks and UI tools. JS frameworks include Phonegap, AngularJS, NodeJS, Backbone and KnockoutJS. Of course, you still need to know the basics including CSS, HTML5 and Bootstrap.

Chicago front-end developers are making between $60,000 and $150,000 annually.

Backend developers are the people responsible for software infrastructure, database design, and all the nuts and bolts that comprise a software application. Languages currently on the job market are C# (.NET), Java, Objective-C, Perl, JavaScript, Python, Ruby on Rails, and APIs. New jobs that mix software development and IT infrastructure offer positions called DevOps. DevOps developers are backend programmers who write scripts for operations. Powershell and Bash are two common scripting languages.

Chicago backend developers make between $50,000 and $115,000 annually.

What about Mobile Apps?

The mobile app market continues to increase job potential across the globe, especially Chicago. Mobile apps have the same type of developers – front-end and backend. Mobile app developers must be attuned to the differences between desktop and mobile software development, especially regarding the UI/UX. With mobile app development, the UI/UX caters to fingers, thumbs, and zooming.

Mobile developers must know several languages including Objective-C, Swift, iOS SDK, Java, the Android SDK, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS and other mobile-specific languages.

Chicago mobile developers have one of the biggest salary ranges. For all development positions, the range is dependent on your experience, and some salaries include bonuses and commissions. Chicago mobile app developers can expect to make between $60,000 and $180,000 annually.

If you want to stay ahead in the job market, check out the Clutch list of Chicago leaders in mobile app development.

Software Project Managers

Many software developers are moving into managerial roles. Computer science graduates go back to college for an MBA to give them a leg up on the competition. Consequently, many software managers complain that the downside to the bigger paycheck is the absence of actual coding. Nonetheless, companies still need project managers to bridge the gap between coders and customers or organization executives.

Chicago project managers make between $70,000 and $150,000 per year. You could be responsible for a small team of developers with only a few managers to work with or you could oversee a large enterprise platform with dozens of developers and stakeholders.

What’s Next for Chicago IT Professionals?

Ten years ago, no one predicted that mobile apps would be a fruitful career path. As a professional, staying at the forefront of technology is paramount. Big data and virtualization are two of the biggest trending IT skills. Big data database design and reporting applications are part of global organizations that collect millions of data points from customers. Virtualization includes developing apps for SaaS and the cloud. These positions are growing in number. Read about software development company in Chicago.

The job outlook for any type of development is improving each year. As more companies adopt the need for applications, developers can pick and choose positions that suit them. What’s great is that Silicon Valley isn’t the only place to live anymore when you choose IT as a career path.

And what about your city? Do IT jobs pay well?

Jennifer is a software engineer and technical writer.