Career Detail


Top Executives
Top executives devise strategies and formulate policies to ensure that these objectives are met.
The Job
The chief executive officer meets frequently with subordinate executives to ensure that operations are conducted in accordance with these policies. The chief executive officer of a corporation retains overall accountability; however, a chief operating officer may be delegated several responsibilities, including the authority to oversee executives who direct the activities of various departments and implement the organization's policies on a day-to-day basis. In publicly held and nonprofit corporations, the board of directors ultimately is accountable for the success or failure of the enterprise, and the chief executive officer reports to the board.
Work Environment
Top executives typically have spacious offices and numerous support staff. General managers in large firms or nonprofit organizations usually have comfortable offices.
College Majors
Bachelor's or graduate degree in business administration, liberal arts.
Minimum Qualifications
The formal education and experience required by top executives vary as widely as their responsibilities do, but many of these workers have at least a bachelor's degree and considerable experience.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Top executives must have highly developed personal skills. An analytical mind able to quickly assess large amounts of information and data is very important.
Quick Facts
  • Keen competition is expected because the prestige and high pay of these jobs attract a large number of applicants.
  • Top executives are among the highest paid workers; however, long hours, considerable travel, and intense pressure to succeed are common.
  • The formal education and experience of top executives vary as widely as the nature of their responsibilities.
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of general and operations managers in May 2008 were $91,570. The middle 50 percent earned between $62,900 and $137,020. Because the specific responsibilities of general and operations managers vary significantly within industries, earnings also tend to vary considerably.
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