Top executives essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $168,140
- 2011, number of jobs: 255,940
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 5 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Top executives; what they do:
If having the entire weight of a company’s success on your shoulders makes you smile at the challenge rather than break out in a cold sweat, you may be cut out for a top executive career. Top executives are responsible for organizing all operational activities of their company and ensuring their company meets its goals.
Top executive careers involve determining and setting goals for each department in a company, establishing policies and procedures, and monitoring activities regularly to ensure each department is moving toward its goal appropriately. Top executive careers also involve regularly communicating with other executives, staff members and board members about general and daily operations.
Top executives generally appoint department heads and managers, as well as negotiate or approve their contracts.
Finances are large part of top executives’ focus, as they oversee their company’s financial and budgetary activities. This includes analyzing financial statements, sales reports, and other performance indicators, as well as finding additional places to cut costs but still improve performance.
The responsibilities of a top executive also depend on the size of the company. In smaller companies, a top executive may have a hand in nearly every department. In a larger company, however, the top executive generally focuses more on policy making and strategic planning.
Here are some common types of top executives who lead specific departments in larger organizations:
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – This position is responsible for the company’s financial reporting, particularly among publically traded companies. The CFO is in charge of its company’s financial goals, objectives, and budgets.
- Chief Information Officer (CIO) – This position is responsible for its company’s technological direction, including information technology and computer systems
- Chief Operating Officer (COO) – This position is responsible for its company’s executives and managers who direct various departments.
- Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) – This position puts a sustainability strategy in place for its company.
- General and Operation Manager – This position is responsibly for a vast variety of responsibilities that cover multiple areas of management. Some common responsibilities for a general and operation manager include creating policies, managing daily operations, and planning how to use human resource materials.
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Top executive job titles:
- Chief Financial Officer
- Chief Information Officer
- Chief Operating Officer
- Chief Sustainability Officer
- Operations Manager
- Chief Executive
- General Manager
- Chief Operating Officer
Top Executives Education, Certification and License Requirements
The education requirements for a top executive may vary depending on the company size and industry, but most top executives have at least a four-year degree, such as a Bachelor of Business Administration or a degree related to the field of their company’s industry.
Top executives in education, such as college presidents and school superintendents, typically have a Doctorate of Education Administration or a Doctorate in the field they originally taught in. Top executives in the public sector often have a bachelor or Master of Business Administration, Public Administration, Law, or the liberal arts. Top executives for large companies most commonly have a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Professionals seeking a top executive career typically need extensive work experience in their company’s industry.
Top executive programs cover subjects such as:
- Business statistics
- Research methods in business
- Finance accounting
- Economic principles
- Business information systems
Top executives may obtain a voluntary certification, known as the Certified Manager (CM) credential, through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. Certification may help with job competition and career advancement opportunities.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
General managers can sometimes advance to higher-level management or executive positions. Professionals seeking a top executive career frequently begin as a lower-level manager and gradually advance within their own firm.
Obtaining certifications, attending training programs, and attending executive development programs all help the chances of advancement to a top executive career.
Top Executive Job Outlook
Forecast: 5 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for top executives, much slower than the average for all occupations.
Although top executives are needed to run businesses, only one may be needed per business, so the overall growth is slower. The merging of companies inhibits the growth of top executive employment. Employment growth for top executives also varies widely depending on the growth of the industry they work in.
Top Executives Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $168,140
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $187,189
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $109,940
Top Executives Major Employers
Top Executives work in any and every industry, from small businesses to national companies. The majority of top executive positions, 83 percent, are general and operations manager positions, while the remaining 17 percent are chief executive positions.