The Bureau of Labor Statistics released information on the unemployment rate in the nation and it came in at 12.2 million people. While the nation struggles to continue to try and bounce back from the declining economy, Chicago has the unfavorable pleasure of having a higher unemployment rate than the nation’s average. With the unemployment rate being defined by those unemployed yet seeking employment, many people are thinking of going back to school in hopes of starting a new career that will help their chances in finding work. However, since it can be difficult to figure out where to start, here are 10 jobs with a high starting salary.


While teachers can get a bad reputation in terms of salary, The Chicago Sun-Times recently offered another view. It reported that “Chicago offered the best starting cash — $50,777 to a teacher straight out of college and $54,080 to one with a master’s degree.” The typical education needed to become a teacher is a bachelor’s degree and the average salary varies from $40,000 to $43,000.


Accountants deal with financials by computing, measuring and deciphering numbers, whether for individuals or companies. The education requirements include an undergraduate degree in accounting but there are differing guidelines on certification depending on the state. The State Board for Educator Certification can differ with each state and there are differing guidelines determined by the State Board of Accountancy to be licensed as a certified public accountant or CPA. The average salary is about $43,000 but can vary depending on the type of accounting.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineers deal with mechanical systems by applying physics and science to materials for analysis, manufacturing and maintenance. The education requirements include a degree in mechanical engineering through a mechanical engineering program that takes four to five years. The average salary is typically about $54,000.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses take care of patients in various ways, depending on the environment they’re working in and their specialities. While there are associate’s degree programs in nursing, the typical requirement is a bachelor’s. The average salary is $55,000.

Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants range from general duties in a private practice office to specialties like Orthopedic Physician Assistants. Education requirements can vary with some requiring a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into the master’s program, but the general requirement is the completion of an accredited physician assistant training program and then passing a certification exam through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. The average starting salary ranges from $60,000 to $70,000 and can be upwards of $100,000 over time.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical Engineers work with electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The educational requirements include a four-year degree specializing in a major emphasizing electrical engineering. The average salary is about $68,000.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work to assist with mental, emotional, physical and developmental issues that arise in everyone from babies to the elderly. A four-year degree coupled with a master’s degree in occupational therapy is required for the position, along with a state certification. There are a number of different ways to work as an occupational therapist, from being an independent contractor, working at a school or working at a nursing home. Because of these differences, the average salary can vary but typically ranges from $70,000 to $85,000.

Software Development Engineer

Software engineers work with anything containing software through design, development, evaluation, maintenance and testing. The education requirements entail a degree in computer science, information systems, information technology or software engineering. The average salary is $70,000.


Lawyers deal with different legal issues from criminal cases to drawing up real estate contracts. The education requirements entail a bachelor’s degree, completion of law school, LSAT and sometimes an undergraduate degree in a specific field of which you’re interested. Because there are so many different types of law, the average can vary but the median total pay is about $75,000.

Primary Care Physician

Physician duties vary with each specialty, but a primary care physician that deals with general medicine does everything from yearly physicals to internal medicine. The educational requirements also vary but premedical students need to take physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology in their undergraduate studies. Students must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and must also pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination or similar online medical assistant schools. The average salary can vary with each specialty, but family practice physicians start at around $120,000.

Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on