Chief Executive Officer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
The average wage of a chief executive officer (CEO) is about $180,000. Is the salary worth the education, experience and training requirements? See real job duties and get the truth about the field's career outlook to find out if becoming a chief executive officer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons to Being a Chief Executive Officer

A chief executive officer oversees the operation of an organization or company and holds a position that can offer prestige and a competitive wage. Take a look below at some of the other pros and cons to becoming a CEO.

PROS to Being a Chief Executive Officer
Large salary ($180,700 annually on average as of May 2014)*
Stock options, performance bonuses and other career perks like allowances and company cars*
Flexible daily schedules in certain circumstances*
Advancement opportunities to positions as an independent consultant or a board of directors member*

CONS to Being a Chief Executive Officer
Keen job competition, since positions are highly desirable*
Average employment growth (11 percent from 2012-2022)*
Weekend and evening hours are common*
Employers place an extreme emphasis on success, which can lead to job stress*
Extensive travel and relocation requirements are common*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupational Info

Job Description

A position as a chief executive officer comes with many financial and leadership responsibilities. As a CEO, you'll work with other members of the executive staff to achieve specific goals for a business or an organization. This might involve drafting budgets or hiring department managers. As part of your job duties, you must report to a board of directors. You might come up with new policies and guidelines for your employer's operations, or you might work on marketing and business strategies. You must also deal with day-to-day operations and long-term business plans. It's usually up to you to motivate and direct other officers towards the company's mission or goal.

Salary Info

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that the hourly average wage of a chief executive officer was about $86. (www.bls.gov). This amounts to an average annual salary of about $180,700. The top-paying industries for chief executive officers include securities and commodities, cable programming, financial investment firms, computer/peripheral equipment manufacturing and natural gas pipeline transportation. New York, Rhode Island, Nebraska, North Carolina and Connecticut were the highest-paying states for chief executive officers as of 2014, per the BLS.

Career Skills and Requirements

Education

According to the BLS, many CEOs must earn an advanced degree like a Master of Business Administration (MBA). A bachelor's degree might be acceptable if you have a great deal of previous work experience. If you're not going to major in business, then you'll want to major in an area that reflects the industry you're going into. For example, if you want to enter education, you'll want to focus your studies in that area. As a CEO, you might even want to obtain a doctoral degree.

Previous Work Experience

Demonstrating a thorough background in administrative and managerial work is generally required to become a chief executive officer. Many organizations hire from within when looking for a new CEO. You therefore must usually start out as a lower-level manager with your company and work your way up to higher positions. Whether you stay with an organization or join a new one, you must spend years developing a work history in management to become a chief executive officer.

What Are Employers Seeking?

Charisma is a trait many employers look for in chief executive officers. If you're persuasive and friendly, then you can build trust with your customers, clients and co-workers. The ability to examine relationships and tailor your interpersonal communication to make people more comfortable around you is important for business deals. Decisiveness, leadership and flexibility are all important aspects employers seek in chief executive officers. Read on to see what some real employers were looking for in CEOs as of March 2012.

  • In Florida, a hospital wants CEO applicants who have an educational background in healthcare administration and preferably a master's degree. Applicants must also have five years of healthcare management experience.
  • A California flower company needs a chief executive officer with at least seven years of administrative experience and a bachelor's degree at minimum.
  • In Illinois, there is an opening for a chief executive officer position that requires 15 years of experience and a history of high earnings.
  • An Alaska power company wants a chief executive officer with a background in the electric industry and ten years of senior management experience.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

By attending both local and national training programs, you can keep up on new management trends. Some of the organizations that offer these conventions and conferences also provide executive training certifications. For example, a Certified Manager (CM) credential can be acquired through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (www.icpm.biz). To be eligible to take the certification exam, you must hold a combination of education and work experience.

Other Careers to Consider

Education Administrator

If you like the administrative work of being a chief executive officer, but you'd rather be working in an area like education, you might become an education administrator. In this occupation, you can help with the day-to-day operations of running a school. Some possible administrative positions include principal, vice president of student affairs, dean of students, university chairperson, athletic director or director of admissions.

You typically must earn a master's degree in administration or leadership to secure positions in this field. Education administrators working in postsecondary education earned around $97,000 on average annually, according to the BLS in May 2011. Elementary and secondary school education administrators made about $90,000 per year during the same time.

Chief Technology Officer

If you're interested in leadership roles, and you're skilled with computers, you could become a chief technology officer. These jobs usually only require a bachelor's degree in computer science. When new technology is available, a chief technology officer figures out the best use for it at their business. Some of the factors you must consider include how useful a new piece of technology is and how cost effective it would be to incorporate it into an employer's infrastructure. The BLS reported that computer and information systems managers earned an average yearly salary of about $126,000 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Kaplan University

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    2. George Mason University

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      • Master of Business Administration
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    3. American InterContinental University

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      • Master of Business Admin: Management
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      • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • M.S. in Management
  • BSBA in Management
  • AASBA in Business
  • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

American University

  • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
  • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
  • Master: Management - Project Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

Johns Hopkins University

  • MA in Public Management
  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Admin - Management
  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA

What is your highest level of education?