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List of Executive Careers

Updated on November 1, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Like the terms “professional” or “businessman,” the word “executive” is generic enough to apply to a wide range of office workers who have some independent decision-making abilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics narrows the term further to apply only to those at the top of the corporate pyramid who create goals and strategies for the entire company.

  • Arguably the most important position in any company is the chief executive officer, who is also known as executive director, president and vice president. She coordinates the activities of all departments to meet company goals. She is often assisted by chief operating officers who manage day-to-day activities, and may be in charge of individual departments, such as sales.
  • Chief information officers plan and carry out a company’s technological strategies involving such technology as hardware, networks and software.
  • Finally, chief sustainability officers ensure that their companies address environmental issues.
  • Other executive careers specific to certain businesses include school superintendents or college presidents, who are responsible for educational institutions; government executives such as mayors, governors and county administrators, who sit at the head of governments; and general and operations managers, who may manage the activities of one branch or department.


Executives typically have a bachelor’s degree in business, or in a subject specific to their industry. For example, the head of a computer firm can have an information sciences degree. However, supplementing this entry qualification are many years of increasingly responsible positions, such as team leader, project leader and department manager, until executives climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Many executives have a master’s in business administration. Personal qualities common to all these professionals include leadership to coordinate people, schedules, budgets and materials; decision-making to choose among different options; and communications ability to transmit their vision to their employees.


The salaries of executives vary by job title and industry.

  • As of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chief executives earned a mean $176,550 per year, or $84.88 per hour.
  • General and operations managers received $114,490 yearly, or $55.04 hourly.
  • Legislators, which include mayors and governors, averaged an annual $38,860.

Note that these amounts do not include the stock options, bonuses or corporate cars to which many top executives are granted.


The BLS sees jobs for executives growing at 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is less than half the 14 percent rate predicted for all jobs in all industries. Though these top-level positions are necessary to the success of companies, their numbers do not increase as their business grows. For example, the number of CEOs in a corporation remains at one, whether the organization has a storefront headquarters in a small front, or has multiple facilities spanning the globe. Competition for each position is intense because many executives remain at their posts for until the end of their careers. Openings do not develop until they retire.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      These people make a great amount of money, but they also carry a load of responsbility. I believe there are certain people made for these positions, they do know how to manage and lead well.

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Interesting Hub - the Company I work for is currently recruiting for a COO and I was thinking about applying but I think Management is better suited for me. The pay looks very enticing though!