While Chicago often receives headlines for its support of technological advancement, the State of Illinois as a whole is poised for significant growth in business, technology, and innovation. For software engineers, this represents a unique opportunity to enter a dynamic career field that promises a strong job outlook as well as above average salary ranges.
Most entry-level software engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree, and Illinois has some of the top computer science and software engineering schools in the nation.
Software Engineering Landscape in Illinois
Chicago currently ranks in the top-20 for tech talent markets nationwide, with over 165K employees in the technology space. With continued growth and an influx of investments in startups throughout the city, Chicago promises to be one of the key hubs for technological development in the coming years.
However, it is not only Chicago that is experiencing a tech revival. The State of Illinois has committed significant resources to improving the network infrastructure throughout the state, with a special emphasis going toward historically underserved communities. Illinois’s investments in broadband and network technologies is projected to create over 25K new jobs statewide while growing the economy by billions of dollars over the next decade.
To further their expansion and development goals, state officials recently announced the purchase of a 10-acre plot of land in Sangamon County which will become the site of an $80M data center.
“Through this new facility, we’re enhancing the State of Illinois’ digital infrastructure,” Governor JB Pritzker said, “and doing so while bringing hundreds of new jobs to the east side of Springfield.”
Software Engineering Education in Illinois
Illinois is home to many exceptional software engineering programs, offering undergraduate and graduate degree tracks as well as professional certifications.
At the University of Illinois – Chicago, students have the opportunity to earn a BS in computer science while specializing in software engineering. UIC offers one of the few computer science programs in the state with this concentration, challenging students with rigorous coursework and research opportunities at every stage of their academic career. Their research experiences for undergraduates provide stipend-funded summer programs where students can build their résumés, engage in professional research projects, or prepare for graduate and doctoral-level work in the future.
Loyola University in Chicago offers a BS in software engineering, which focuses on “a strong commitment to service, and the humane use and understanding of technology.”
In addition to its strong academic program, Loyola encourages undergraduate research at its Emerging Technologies Laboratory. In past years, student researchers have made breakthroughs in several areas including IoT technology, sensors, and supercomputers.
At Olivet Nazarene University, students can earn a BS in computer science while specializing in one of three areas of concentration, including software development. Graduates of its software development program have advanced to exciting careers in mobile application development, software engineering, and network architecture.
For students seeking an advanced degree, DePaul University offers a rewarding MS in software engineering with four available concentrations: Entrepreneurship and Technology Leadership, Real Time Game Systems, Software Architecture, and Software Development. In past years, students and faculty have completed research projects with the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration, Siemens Corporate Technology, and Microsoft.
Dominican University makes changing careers easier with their fully online, 18-month MS in software development. Most significant, Dominican accepts students from all degree backgrounds, including many with liberal arts degrees who are entering the computer science field for the first time.
University of Chicago offers an MS in computer science with specializations in data analytics and software engineering. Their joint MS/MBA program allows graduate students to study at the renowned Booth School of Business while simultaneously earning their MS in computer science.
Waubonsee Community College offers an online 15-unit Computer Software Development Certificate that prepares students and working professionals for the complexity of an evolving industry.
At Southwestern Illinois College, students can earn a Software Development Certificate in only two years, accelerating their education while preparing them for a career in a variety of technological fields.
Software Engineering Jobs in Illinois
While the State of Illinois is investing significant resources into creating new tech jobs and developing its network infrastructure, there are also many opportunities for software engineers in smaller corporations and startups. At these companies, software engineers have the chance to work on cutting-edge technology that significantly impacts both corporations and individuals around the globe.
At ActiveCampaign, for example, software engineers work to write, troubleshoot, and debug automation platforms that affect over 185K companies across 170 countries. For those who want to use their skills in the fintech space, Avant tasks them with building and refining next-generation financial apps, improving the customer experience while making it easier than ever for users to reach their financial goals.
Software engineers will find exciting career opportunities at Civis Analytics, where they empower companies, non-profits, and research firms to “dismantle your data silos with the all-in-one platform built for data teams.”
Clearcover is a Chicago-based tech startup that is reimaging the car insurance industry with fast and easy-to-use mobile apps. At Clearcover, software engineers have the chance to work on quality engineering projects as well as machine learning technology.
Whether working at leading technology companies or playing a vital role in the state’s development initiatives, software engineers will find many exciting opportunities to make a difference in Illinois.