Chief Executive Officer Careers

The position of a Chief Executive Officer is the last step on the corporate ladder. CEOs are elected to this position by shareholders. They are the ones who make all the major decisions regarding the activities of the corporation, coordinate operations, oversee budgets, and manage resources. They represent the company in public and communicate with the board of directors.

The duties of CEOs vary, depending on the size of the company and the nature of the business. The larger the corporation is, the more detached the CEO becomes from practical daily operations, focused instead on setting company goals and making strategic decisions to make sure the business keeps growing.

Changing CEOs is a risky business that leaves a company vulnerable, if only temporarily, which can affect stock prices. So once you become a CEO, it is in everyone's best interest to keep you in that position for as long as possible.

What Does a Chief Executive Officer Do

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.

Duties

Top executives typically do the following:

  • Establish and carry out departmental or organizational goals, policies, and procedures
  • Direct and oversee an organization’s financial and budgetary activities
  • Manage general activities related to making products and providing services
  • Consult with other executives, staff, and board members about general operations
  • Negotiate or approve contracts and agreements
  • Appoint department heads and managers
  • Analyze financial statements, sales reports, and other performance indicators
  • Identify places to cut costs and to improve performance, policies, and programs

The responsibilities of top executives largely depend on an organization’s size. For example, an owner or manager of a small organization, such as an independent retail store, often is responsible for purchasing, hiring, training, quality control, and day-to-day supervisory duties. In large organizations, however, top executives typically focus more on formulating policies and strategic planning, while general and operations managers direct day-to-day operations.

The following are examples of types of top executives working in the private sector:

Chief executive officers (CEOs), who are also known by titles such as executive director, managing director, or president, provide overall direction for companies and organizations. CEOs manage company operations, formulate and implement policies, and ensure goals are met. They collaborate with and direct the work of other top executives and typically report to a board of directors.

Chief operating officers (COOs) oversee other executives who direct the activities of various departments, such as human resources and sales. They also carry out the organization’s guidelines on a day-to-day basis.

General and operations managers oversee operations that are too diverse and general to be classified into one area of management or administration. Responsibilities may include formulating policies, managing daily operations, and planning the use of materials and human resources. They make staff schedules, assign work, and ensure that projects are completed. In some organizations, the tasks of chief executive officers may overlap with those of general and operations managers.

The following are examples of types of top executives working in the public sector:

Mayors, along with governors, city managers, and county administrators, are chief executive officers of governments. They typically oversee budgets, programs, and the use of resources. Mayors and governors must be elected to office, whereas managers and administrators are typically appointed. 

Most educational systems, regardless of whether they are public or private school systems, also employ executive officers. The following are examples of top executives working in the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational school systems:

School superintendents and college or university presidents are chief executive officers of school districts and postsecondary schools. They manage issues such as student achievement, budgets and resources, general operations, and relations with government agencies and other stakeholders.

How To Become a Chief Executive Officer

Although education and training requirements vary widely by position and industry, many top executives have at least a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of work experience. 

Education

Many top executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or in an area related to their field of work. Top executives in the public sector often have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Top executives of large corporations often have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).

College presidents and school superintendents are typically required to have a master’s degree, although a doctorate is often preferred.

Although many mayors, governors, or other public sector executives have at least a bachelor’s degree, these positions typically do not have any specific education requirements.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many top executives advance within their own firm, moving up from lower level managerial or supervisory positions. However, other companies may prefer to hire qualified candidates from outside their organization. Top executives who are promoted from lower level positions may be able to substitute experience for education to move up in the company. For example, in industries such as retail trade or transportation, workers without a college degree may work their way up to higher levels within the company to become executives or general managers.

Chief executives typically need extensive managerial experience. Executives are also expected to have experience in the organization’s area of specialty. Most general and operations managers hired from outside an organization need lower level supervisory or management experience in a related field.

Some general managers advance to higher level managerial or executive positions. Company training programs, executive development programs, and certification can often benefit managers or executives hoping to advance.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Top executives must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively. They must effectively discuss issues and negotiate with others, direct subordinates, and explain their policies and decisions to those within and outside the organization.

Decisionmaking skills. Top executives need decisionmaking skills when setting policies and managing an organization. They must assess different options and choose the best course of action, often daily.

Leadership skills. Top executives must be able to lead an organization successfully by coordinating policies, people, and resources.

Management skills. Top executives must shape and direct the operations of an organization. For example, they must manage business plans, employees, and budgets.

Problem-solving skills. Top executives need to identify and resolve issues within an organization. They must be able to recognize shortcomings and effectively carry out solutions.

Time-management skills. Top executives do many tasks at the same time, typically under their own direction, to ensure that their work gets done and that they meet their goals.

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Average Salary
$190,627
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
91,177
Job Openings

Chief Executive Officer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Chief Executive Officer

Top Careers After Chief Executive Officer

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Average Salary for a Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officers in America make an average salary of $190,627 per year or $92 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $323,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $112,000 per year.
Average Salary
$190,627
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Best Paying Cities For Chief Executive Officers

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Urban Honolulu, HI
Salary Range252k - 336k$292k$291,837
Washington, DC
Salary Range155k - 308k$219k$219,174
Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ
Salary Range151k - 309k$217k$216,845
New York, NY
Salary Range151k - 306k$215k$215,495
Las Vegas, NV
Salary Range151k - 302k$214k$214,248
Austin, TX
Salary Range146k - 289k$206k$205,776
Philadelphia, PA
Salary Range145k - 291k$205k$205,478
Mountain View, CA
Salary Range148k - 279k$204k$203,948
Stamford, CT
Salary Range139k - 284k$199k$199,387
Arlington, VA
Salary Range139k - 276k$196k$196,467
Boston, MA
Salary Range134k - 279k$194k$193,745
Chicago, IL
Salary Range124k - 271k$184k$184,305
Charlotte, NC
Salary Range120k - 237k$169k$168,968
Alpharetta, GA
Salary Range113k - 231k$162k$162,118
Coral Gables, FL
Salary Range115k - 222k$161k$160,539
Auburn, AL
Salary Range109k - 222k$156k$155,793
Seattle, WA
Salary Range99k - 218k$147k$147,162
Denver, CO
Salary Range92k - 216k$142k$141,756
Portland, OR
Salary Range91k - 197k$134k$134,260
Provo, UT
Salary Range84k - 193k$128k$127,737
$84k
$336k

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Chief Executive Officer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Chief Executive Officer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Chief Executive Officer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Chief Executive Officer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Chief Executive Officer Resume Examples And Templates

Chief Executive Officer Demographics

Gender

male

64.2 %

female

30.9 %

unknown

4.9 %

Ethnicity

White

80.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.8 %

Asian

6.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0 %

French

12.3 %

German

7.5 %
Show More Chief Executive Officer Demographics

Chief Executive Officer Education

Majors

Business
31.8 %

Degrees

Bachelors

59.0 %

Masters

18.6 %

Associate

10.6 %

Top Colleges for Chief Executive Officers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

5. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,808
Enrollment
13,990

6. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

7. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177

8. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,230
Enrollment
12,161

9. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$52,930
Enrollment
5,030

10. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108
Show More Chief Executive Officer Education Requirements

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Top Skills For a Chief Executive Officer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.0% of chief executive officers listed healthcare on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and leadership skills are important as well.

Best States For a Chief Executive Officer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a chief executive officer. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, New Jersey, Nevada, and California. Chief executive officers make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $251,550. Whereas in New Jersey and Nevada, they would average $174,255 and $173,752, respectively. While chief executive officers would only make an average of $172,331 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Nevada

Total Chief Executive Officer Jobs:
553
Highest 10% Earn:
$263,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Chief Executive Officer Jobs:
2,147
Highest 10% Earn:
$264,000
Location Quotient:
1.24
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Texas

Total Chief Executive Officer Jobs:
4,936
Highest 10% Earn:
$259,000
Location Quotient:
1.12
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Chief Executive Officers

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Top Chief Executive Officer Employers

1. United States Army
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$117,245
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
146+
2. Keller Williams Realty
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$157,375
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
56+
3. American Red Cross
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$102,490
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
41+
4. Community Health Systems
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$166,331
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
36+
5. Kindred Healthcare
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$144,169
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
35+
6. CEO
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$159,506
Chief Executive Officers Hired: 
34+

Chief Executive Officer Videos

Updated August 18, 2021