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Salary Range: $80,000 or more
Average Hourly: $ 51.77
Education: Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs: 2704400
Jobs Added to 2029: 209500
Growth: As fast as average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Top Executives Do
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. In small organizations, such as an independent retail store, an owner or manager often is responsible for hiring, training, quality control, and day-to-day supervisory duties. In large organizations, chief executives typically focus on formulating policies and planning strategies, while general and operations managers direct day-to-day operations.
The following are examples of types of top executives:
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 that goals are met. They collaborate with and direct the work of other top executives and typically report to a board of directors.
There may be other types of chief executives—such as chief operating officers (COOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), or chief human resources officers—who manage a specific part of the organization. The knowledge, skills, and job duties that these executives have differ, depending on which department they oversee.
General and operations managers oversee activities that are too diverse to be classified into one area of management or administration. Responsibilities may include formulating policies, directing daily operations, and planning the use of materials and human resources. These managers 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.
Mayors, city managers, county administrators, and governors are chief executive officers of governments. They usually oversee budgets, programs, and the use of resources. Mayors and governors must be elected to office, whereas managers and administrators are typically appointed.
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.
Top executives work in nearly every industry, for both small and large organizations. They often have irregular schedules, which may include working evenings and weekends. Travel is common, particularly for chief executives.
Work Environment Details
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||11|
|Healthcare and social assistance||7|
General and operations managers held about 2.4 million jobs in 2020. The largest employers of general and operations managers were as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||11|
Top executives work in nearly every industry. They work for both small and large organizations, ranging from businesses in which they are the sole employee to firms with hundreds or thousands of employees.
Because top executives often are held responsible for their organization’s success, their work may be stressful.
Top executives frequently travel to attend meetings and conferences or to visit local, regional, national, or international offices of interest.
Top executives often interact with other high-level executives, such as , , or .
Most top executives work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week, including evenings and weekends.
Overall employment of top executives is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 247,100 openings for top executives are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Top Executive
Top executives typically need a bachelor's or master's degree in an area related to their field of work, such as business or engineering. Top executives in the public sector may have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Top executives of large corporations may 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, and 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 organizations, moving up from lower level management occupations or supervisory positions. However, some 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 organization.
Chief executives typically need extensive managerial experience, and this experience is expected to be 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 move into higher level managerial or executive positions. Executive training programs and development programs often benefit managers or executives.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some top executive positions may require the applicant to have a license or certification relevant to their area of management. For example, some employers may require their chief executive officer to be a certified public accountant (CPA).
Communication skills. Top executives must be able to convey information clearly and persuasively. They must discuss issues and negotiate with others, direct staff, and explain policies and decisions to people within and outside the organization.
Decision-making skills. When setting policies and managing an organization, top executives must be able to assess different options and choose the best course of action.
Leadership skills. Top executives must be able to shape and direct an organization by coordinating policies, people, and resources.
Problem-solving skills. Top executives need to identify and resolve issues within an organization. They must be able to recognize shortcomings and carry out solutions.
Time-management skills. Top executives do many tasks concurrently to ensure that their work gets done and that the organization meets its goals.