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Chief executives are responsible for the overall operation of a company or organization and have titles such as chief executive officer (CEO), executive director, managing director or president. They establish the company's objectives and policies in collaboration with other top executives, including overseeing the budget and making sure the company's resources are effectively used. A CEO also facilitates business outside of the company. The chief executive officer reports to the board of directors. Other types of chief executives include chief operating officers (COOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), and chief human resources officers.

Day in the Life of a Chief Executive

Top executives lead organizations in almost every industry. They work for both small and large companies, ranging from companies in which they are the only employee to firms with hundreds of thousands of employees. A CEO's responsibilities depend on the size of the company. For example, the owner of a small independent retail store, may purchase inventory, and hire, train and supervise employees. By contrast, the CEO of a large company typically focuses more on developing policies and strategy, while the company's general and operations managers direct day-to-day operations.

Depending on a company's size and industry, its chief executive might handle the following duties on a typical day:

  • Establish and direct department and company goals, strategies, policies, operations and procedures.
  • Consult with other company executives, staff, and board members about general operations.
  • Advise and inform the company's board of directors on key issues, such as recommending an annual budget for board approval.
  • Direct the company's financial activities. This may involve analyzing the firm's financial statements, sales reports, and stock value.
  • Manage the company's resources within the budget guidelines.
  • Direct fundraising, planning and implementation.
  • Oversee the design, quality, marketing and delivery of products and services.
  • Negotiate or approve contracts and agreements.
  • Ensure that the company's objectives, products and services are presented in a positive light to relevant stakeholders (such as consumers, investors, and the general public).
  • Hire or appoint department heads and managers.

Most CEOs have support staff and large offices. They typically work long hours but have flexible schedules. Most chief executives travel frequently to review operations, meet with staff, customers and other executives and to attend conferences and meetings.

Important Characteristics for Chief Executives

Whatever their industry or the size of their company, successful leaders share what might be called chief executives skills. These top executives typically have excellent communication, interpersonal, leadership and organizational skills. An analytical mind, along with sound decision-making and problem-solving skills, enables them to work well under pressure. They display great leadership ability when coordinating policies, people, and resources. They are adept at managing their time, business plans, budgets and employees.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Chief Executive

The education, experience, and training requirements for CEOs vary widely, depending on the organization. Here are the most typical steps on the path to becoming a chief executive:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree or graduate degree. While there isn't a "chief executives school," many CEOs have a bachelor's or graduate degree in law, business administration, public administration, liberal arts, or specialized areas related to their industry.
  2. Gain industry, company and management experience. Chief executives typically need extensive experience in management and a deep knowledge of a company's area of specialty. This experience can also results in the building and strengthening of chief executives skills. Many top executives rise through the ranks of their own company, advancing from lower level management or supervisory positions. In such cases, executives may be able to substitute experience for education. Some companies, however, prefer to hire qualified candidates from outside their company.
  3. Take advantage of company and industry management training programs. Some employees without a college degree can advance to higher levels in the organization. These candidates often take training programs and executive development programs for managers and executives hoping to advance. This type of training is offered by some companies and industry association groups.
  4. Earn a professional license, certification or registration. Some companies require that their chief executives hold a specific professional license, certification or registration. For example, some companies require their CEO to be a certified public accountant (CPA). Find out if your employer (current or prospective) requires any particular licenses, certifications, or registrations.

Resources

Sources:

  • Top Executives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm
  • Summary Report for Chief Executives , O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-1011.00

Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be chief executive education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Judgment and Decision Making4.55.75
Speaking4.384.88
Complex Problem Solving4.385
Critical Thinking4.384.75
Social Perceptiveness4.254.25

Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be chief executive education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension4.54.88
Oral Expression4.385
Written Comprehension4.254.62
Speech Recognition4.124.62
Written Expression4.124.62

Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be chief executive education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Administration and Management4.756.23
Personnel and Human Resources4.15.02
Customer and Personal Service4.095.55
English Language4.074.56
Law and Government3.924

Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being chief executive education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.746.18
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.735.96
Getting Information4.725.35
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization4.615.87
Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates4.575.89

Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being chief executive education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Leadership4.97
Integrity4.8
Stress Tolerance4.75
Initiative4.75
Dependability4.65

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Chief Executive Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim10,620 $236,730
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale5,530 $193,650
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward5,000 $238,360
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell4,910 $225,460
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue3,510 $214,170
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade2,760 $162,150
San Diego-Carlsbad2,610 $229,860
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin2,410 $143,940
Salt Lake City2,230 $183,430
San Juan-Carolina-Caguas2,140 $120,670

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Chief Executives

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to chief executives

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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