Highest paying jobs in Rockford that require a graduate degree

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August 1, 2022
Grace Nichols // U.S. Air Force

Highest paying jobs in Rockford that require a graduate degree

Those with graduate degrees earn more on average than those without them—but not all jobs are equal. And while rising tuition costs are enough to turn people away from the prospect of a master’s or doctoral degree, many high-paying professions still require such degrees to get in the door. Stacker compiled a list of the highest- paying jobs that require a graduate degree in Rockford, IL using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are ranked by 2020 annual mean wage.

The best way to guarantee a high return on investment in a graduate degree is to be aware of professions that pay top-dollar for that added educational investment. Keep reading to see where a graduate degree is required—and can earn you the most.

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DGLimages // Shutterstock

#22. Mental health and substance abuse social workers

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $43,030 (#192 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 180

National
- Annual mean salary: $54,540 (116,780 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Madera, CA ($92,870)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($91,480)
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($89,730)

Job description: Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

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Daxiao Productions // Shutterstock

#21. Marriage and family therapists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $44,820 (#93 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $56,890 (60,850 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Provo-Orem, UT ($89,560)
--- St. George, UT ($85,290)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($81,890)

Job description: Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.

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Photographee.eu // Shutterstock

#20. Rehabilitation counselors

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $45,220 (#85 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 150

National
- Annual mean salary: $42,080 (100,260 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- California-Lexington Park, MD ($74,170)
--- Trenton, NJ ($66,330)
--- Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA ($64,940)

Job description: Counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, disease, accidents, aging, or the stress of daily life. Coordinate activities for residents of care and treatment facilities. Assess client needs and design and implement rehabilitation programs that may include personal and vocational counseling, training, and job placement.

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VH-studio // Shutterstock

#19. Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $51,970 (#283 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 280

National
- Annual mean salary: $62,320 (292,230 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA ($91,420)
--- El Centro, CA ($91,110)
--- Fresno, CA ($90,860)

Job description: Advise and assist students and provide educational and vocational guidance services.

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Canva

#18. Healthcare social workers

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $54,260 (#220 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 180

National
- Annual mean salary: $60,470 (176,110 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($100,410)
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($98,980)
--- Salinas, CA ($95,690)

Job description: Provide individuals, families, and groups with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses. Services include advising family caregivers. Provide patients with information and counseling, and make referrals for other services. May also provide case and care management or interventions designed to promote health, prevent disease, and address barriers to access to healthcare.

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Simon Fraser Universtiy // flickr

#17. Instructional coordinators

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $59,590 (#239 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 90

National
- Annual mean salary: $70,160 (174,900 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- New Haven, CT ($111,440)
--- Warner Robins, GA ($110,800)
--- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA ($104,000)

Job description: Develop instructional material, coordinate educational content, and incorporate current technology into instruction in order to provide guidelines to educators and instructors for developing curricula and conducting courses. May train and coach teachers. Includes educational consultants and specialists, and instructional material directors.

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Knight Foundation // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Urban and regional planners

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $62,640 (#135 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 40

National
- Annual mean salary: $79,410 (38,190 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($109,910)
--- Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($108,860)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($107,810)

Job description: Develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities of jurisdictions, such as towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

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Jacob Lund // Shutterstock

#15. Education administrators, postsecondary

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $75,510 (#196 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 60

National
- Annual mean salary: $115,200 (140,880 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Ithaca, NY ($205,810)
--- Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC ($178,210)
--- Charlottesville, VA ($176,040)

Job description: Plan, direct, or coordinate student instruction, administration, and services, as well as other research and educational activities, at postsecondary institutions, including universities, colleges, and junior and community colleges.

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Canva

#14. Speech-language pathologists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $76,380 (#203 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 110

National
- Annual mean salary: $83,240 (148,450 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Modesto, CA ($128,540)
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($120,920)
--- Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($115,480)

Job description: Assess and treat persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.

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Wikimedia Commons

#13. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $78,370 (#162 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 60

National
- Annual mean salary: $89,290 (111,320 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($138,550)
--- Jefferson City, MO ($133,640)
--- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA ($125,020)

Job description: Assess, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders of individuals through observation, interview, and psychological tests. Help individuals with distress or maladjustment understand their problems through their knowledge of case history, interviews with patients, and theory. Provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment. May design behavior modification programs and consult with medical personnel regarding the best treatment for patients.

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Rappaport Center // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Lawyers

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $90,430 (#299 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 310

National
- Annual mean salary: $148,910 (658,120 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($231,610)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($201,920)
--- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV ($186,070)

Job description: Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.

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David Bibo // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Education administrators, kindergarten through secondary

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $91,840 (#189 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 330

National
- Annual mean salary: $103,010 (262,480 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Modesto, CA ($154,970)
--- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($146,070)
--- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT ($145,590)

Job description: Plan, direct, or coordinate the academic, administrative, or auxiliary activities of kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools.

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Aykut Erdogdu // Shutterstock

#10. Physical therapists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $92,500 (#118 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 180

National
- Annual mean salary: $91,680 (220,870 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- El Centro, CA ($143,500)
--- Modesto, CA ($123,370)
--- Visalia-Porterville, CA ($119,510)

Job description: Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength, and improve or correct disabling conditions resulting from disease or injury.

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ABO PHOTOGRAPHY // Shutterstock

#9. Occupational therapists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $92,700 (#63 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 60

National
- Annual mean salary: $87,480 (126,610 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- The Villages, FL ($115,920)
--- Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV ($115,060)
--- Modesto, CA ($112,870)

Job description: Assess, plan, and organize rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills, as well as general independence, to persons with disabilities or developmental delays. Use therapeutic techniques, adapt the individual's environment, teach skills, and modify specific tasks that present barriers to the individual.

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Ohiodominican // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Physician assistants

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $117,180 (#112 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $116,080 (125,280 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Salinas, CA ($168,220)
--- Waterbury, CT ($165,230)
--- Portsmouth, NH-ME ($158,020)

Job description: Provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment, and counsel patients. May, in some cases, prescribe medication. Must graduate from an accredited educational program for physician assistants.

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#7. Nurse practitioners

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $118,100 (#97 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 250

National
- Annual mean salary: $114,510 (211,280 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($188,070)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($177,800)
--- Salinas, CA ($155,310)

Job description: Diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a healthcare team. May focus on health promotion and disease prevention. May order, perform, or interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and x rays. May prescribe medication. Must be registered nurses who have specialized graduate education.

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KSai23 // Shutterstock

#6. Chiropractors

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $129,840 (#8 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 100

National
- Annual mean salary: $83,830 (34,760 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA ($273,530)
--- Raleigh, NC ($149,430)
--- New Orleans-Metairie, LA ($139,970)

Job description: Assess, treat, and care for patients by manipulation of spine and musculoskeletal system. May provide spinal adjustment or address sacral or pelvic misalignment.

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Grace Nichols // U.S. Air Force

#5. Pharmacists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $135,740 (#63 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 240

National
- Annual mean salary: $125,460 (315,470 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Madera, CA ($165,350)
--- Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($162,540)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($161,120)

Job description: Dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and provide information to patients about medications and their use. May advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosage, interactions, and side effects of medications.

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Austin Community College // Flickr

#4. Veterinarians

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $140,600 (#16 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 40

National
- Annual mean salary: $108,350 (73,710 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX ($169,220)
--- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT ($150,370)
--- Akron, OH ($150,330)

Job description: Diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.

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LightField Studios // Shutterstock

#3. Psychiatrists

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $186,980 (#73 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $217,100 (25,540 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA ($297,710)
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($289,580)
--- Kansas City, MO-KS ($287,220)

Job description: Diagnose, treat, and help prevent mental disorders.

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Canva

#2. Dentists, general

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $231,850 (#28 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 100

National
- Annual mean salary: $180,830 (95,920 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Dover-Durham, NH-ME ($286,540)
--- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL ($278,790)
--- Portland-South Portland, ME ($278,390)

Job description: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.

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#1. General internal medicine physicians

Rockford, IL
- Annual mean salary: $248,750 (#30 highest pay among all metros)
- Employment: 190

National
- Annual mean salary: $210,960 (50,600 employed)
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Rochester, MN ($315,830)
--- Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC ($314,080)
--- Wichita Falls, TX ($311,260)

Job description: Diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a wide range of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. Provide care mainly for adults and adolescents, and are based primarily in an outpatient care setting.

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