Career Moves: Business Managers - Top Executives
Keen competition is expected because the prestige and high compensation of these jobs attract a substantial 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 extensively as the nature of their responsibilities, but many of these workers have at least a bachelor's degree and considerable experience.
Employment of top executives—including chief executives and general and operations managers—is expected to experience little to no change from 2008 to 2018. However, because these workers are essential to running companies and organizations, projected employment of top executives will vary by industry and will generally reflect the growth or decline of that industry. For example, job growth is expected in the fast-growing health services industry, while employment declines for top executives are projected for many manufacturing industries.
Top executives are among the highest paid workers in the United States. However, salary levels vary substantially, depending on level of executive responsibility; length of service; and type, size, and location of the firm, organization, or government agency. For example, a top manager in a very large corporation can earn significantly more than the mayor of a small town.
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.
The formal education and experience required by top executives vary as extensively as their responsibilities do, but many of these workers have at least a bachelor's degree and considerable experience.
Many top executives have a bachelor's or master’s degree in business administration, liberal arts, or a more specialized discipline. The specific type and level of education required often depends on the type of organization for which top executives work.
Some top executives in the public sector have a degree in public administration or liberal arts. Others might have a more specific educational background related to their jobs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition
For more information on this career track, visit the BLS website.