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.

Learn more about what a Chief Executive Officer does

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. 

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Chief Executive Officer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officers in America make an average salary of $192,260 per year or $92 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $354,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $104,000 per year.
Average Chief Executive Officer Salary
$192,260 Yearly
$92.43 hourly
$104,000
10 %
$192,000
Median
$354,000
90 %

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Chief Executive Officer Education

Chief Executive Officer Majors

31.8 %

Chief Executive Officer 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

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.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Chief Executive Officer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Chief Executive Officer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Chief Executive Officer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Chief Executive Officer Demographics

Chief Executive Officer Gender Distribution

Male
Male
69%
Female
Female
32%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among chief executive officers, 31.5% of them are women, while 68.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among chief executive officers is White, which makes up 81.1% of all chief executive officers.

  • The most common foreign language among chief executive officers is Spanish at 40.0%.

Online Courses For Chief Executive Officer That You May Like

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Learn to collaborate with your organizational leaders on the development and implementation of a strategic plan...

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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, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York. Chief executive officers make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $191,313. Whereas in Nevada and New Jersey, they would average $182,253 and $180,498, respectively. While chief executive officers would only make an average of $174,696 in New York, 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:
$266,000
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:
$265,000
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. Minnesota

Total Chief Executive Officer Jobs:
1,888
Highest 10% Earn:
$249,000
Location Quotient:
1.3 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

Most Common Employers For Chief Executive Officer

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Quorum Health$231,712$111.4021
2Community Health Systems$231,691$111.3936
3Homes.com$229,148$110.1718
4Socialserve$227,137$109.2017
5US Air Conditioning Distributors$225,967$108.6437
6*n/a*$225,658$108.4954
7Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization$225,402$108.3721
8USAF Police Alumni Association$218,373$104.9920
9AT&T$212,935$102.3721
10Keller Williams Realty$211,140$101.5131

Chief Executive Officer Videos

Becoming a Chief Executive Officer FAQs

How long does it take to become a Chief Executive Officer?

It takes 8 years of professional experience to become a chief executive officer. That is the time it takes to learn specific chief executive officer skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 11 to 13 years years to become a chief executive officer.

Does CEO mean owner?

No, CEO does not mean owner. A CEO, or Chief Executive Officer, is typically the highest functioning executive position within a company. However, CEOs are often given their job by a board of stakeholders or its owner(s). There are instances where a company owner, especially a startup, may act as the company's CEO.

How many years does it take to become a chief executive?

It takes approximately five years to become a chief executive. While the requirements for the position may vary depending on the company and the responsibilities being delegated to that chief executive, most will need five years of managerial experience and a four-year degree, preferably in business.

Is a CEO an employee?

Yes, a CEO is an employee. While they may not directly answer a manager in the traditional sense, they are a part of the executive branch that responds to a board of directors or stakeholders. CEOs may get the same benefits as employees in a different employment bracket, but they are still subject to employee protocols and procedures.

Is a CEO or managing director higher?

Neither a CEO nor a managing director is higher because they are the same thing. CEO is used primarily in the US, and Managing Director may be its European counterpart.

In company hierarchy, the CEO is typically at the top over all other roles. Sometimes a company will have both a CEO and an MD. There are distinct differences in roles and responsibilities. A CEO oversees all the company areas and reports to the board, while an MD may be part of the board of directors and oversee the function of different departments. It may depend on the company that sits at the top.

What is the difference between a CEO and a COO?

The difference between a CEO and a COO is that CEO is the highest-level C-suite role in a company, followed by the COO. The chief executive officer (CEO) bears responsibility for the success or failure of their companies.

What is the role of a chief executive officer?

The role of a chief executive officer is to ensure the good overall health of a company by overseeing operational procedures such as hiring executives, watching revenue streams, and addressing any issues with the company's bottom line.

Which degree is best for a CEO?

A business degree is best for a CEO typically. CEOs need to have enough experience and knowledge to manage and steer a company successfully. The beginning of this career path is often started with a bachelor's in business administration or a related field.

Who is higher than a CEO?

Stakeholders, the owner(s), and a board of directors are higher than a CEO. While a CEO is the highest functioning employee level within a company, they must still answer to a board of directors, stakeholders, or company owners.

General Manager vs. CEO

A general manager is a professional who may manage one or several different departments of a company, while a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is a company's highest-ranking employee.

General managers manage large groups of employees in an individual store, office, or portion of a larger organization. The role is most common in large corporations. A general manager's responsibilities are oversight of employees, strategy, coordination, engagement with consumers, and being a liaison between their department and the highest-ranking officials at a company.

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