What Is A CEO And How To Become One?

September 25, 2022
By AdmissionSight

What Is A CEO And How To Become One?

What is a CEO? The highest-ranking individual employee within a business is called the CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Learn more about what is the job of a CEO and how to become one as we go on.

They are an employee in the sense that they work for the company rather than being elected by shareholders, but they are not your average employee; they have a lot of power and influence within the company.

Although a CEO’s specific duties may differ slightly from firm to company, in general, this person oversees determining whether the organization will ultimately succeed or fail.

Important Points

The CEO’s primary duties include formulating and carrying out the organization’s strategy, distributing resources, and assembling and managing the executive team. What is a CEO’s position in a company? The CEO is the highest-ranking employee in any firm and reports to the Board of Directors.

CEOs occasionally act as the Chair of the Board of Directors, although this might provide a potential conflict of interest. CEOs must have excellent leadership abilities, outstanding communication skills, and unmatched enthusiasm for the company and its employees.

Obligations of the CEO

Some CEOs, especially in smaller businesses, tend to be quite hands-on with some company duties. A CEO can (theoretically) take on any jobs or responsibilities they choose.


CEOs may favor particular roles like marketing or finance depending on their background and areas of expertise. The stage of the company’s lifecycle also impacts; for instance, CEOs at earlier-stage startups might devote more time on fundraising than colleagues at more established companies.

Establishing And Carrying Out Organizational Strategy

The CEO is responsible for making decisions on new product lines, creating (and/or preserving) competitive advantages, prospective new markets, risk mitigation, and opportunity spotting, among other things. The CEO is the person with operational responsibility over strategy and execution, although they will rely on a lot of information and input from top leaders as well as guidance and opinion from the Board of Directors, as with everything in an organization.

Construction of the Senior Leadership Team

Top talent is attracted to firms by CEOs who are effective. They are in charge of developing and managing the senior leadership team, who in turn hire and manage upper and middle management within their divisions, but they are not in charge of hiring or firing every individual employee.

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The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the Chief Operating Officer (COO), and, depending on the structure of the firm, all other possible C-suite roles make up the executive leadership team (Chief Risk Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Investment Officer, etc.)

Making Choices Regarding Capital Allocation

What is a CEO’s job in capital allocation? While division and departmental managers may be in charge of their own budgets, it is ultimately the CEO’s job to create and oversee the organization’s total budget to successfully carry out strategic plans.

The CEO will also offer advice on whether (and how) to raise money as well as how to spend more cash effectively. Repaying debt, distributing capital through dividends or share repurchases, or reinvesting in the company are all examples of strategies.

Establishing A Corporate Culture, Vision, And Values

The goal, vision, and values developed and put into practice by the CEO will eventually drive the corporate culture in any number of distinct directions, even though it contains many elements that are organic.

The entire organization is watching; thus the CEO must be highly mindful of their demeanor, their behavior, and every move they do (or don’t take). The way they dress, portray themselves, and interact with other employees will all have an impact on how the rest of the company operates.

Effectively Interacting With All Stakeholders

The CEO is the public face of the business. They might be presenting the company’s interests before members of the public, the media, legislators or other regulators, staff members, clients, vendors, or any other interested parties.

While it is necessary to communicate the fundamentals of the goal, values, and vision, it’s much more crucial to live these principles. There is always someone looking over their shoulder, thus the CEO is never truly “off duty.”

What Is the Average Salary For A CEO?

What is the average salary for a CEO? Chief Executive Officers in the United States typically make roughly 218,000 USD annually. The lowest salary is 114,000 USD, and the highest is 334,000 USD (highest).

What is a CEO’s salary comprised of? This is the typical annual pay after housing, transportation, and other amenities. The experience, talents, gender, and location all have a significant impact on chief executive officer remuneration. You can find a thorough analysis based on a variety of factors below.

Salary Scale

The lowest wage for a chief executive officer in the United States is 114,000 USD per year. The maximum remuneration is 334,000 USD per year (maximum salary).

Average Salary

The median annual pay for chief executive officers is 210,000 USD, which means that 50% of them make less than this amount and the other 50% make more than this amount. The middle wage value is represented by the median. In general, you would want to be in the group earning more than the median pay on the right side of the graph.


The 25th and the 75th percentiles are two numbers that are closely related to the median. According to the wage distribution diagram, 25% of Chief Executive Officers make less than 145,000 USD, and 75% make more than that amount. The diagram also shows that 25% of chief executive officers make more than 261,000 USD while 75% make less than 261,000 USD.

What Degree Is Best For A CEO?

A person aspiring to be a CEO has a wide range of undergraduate degree options because CEOs can operate in any industry. Now, what degree is best for a CEO?

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The following is a list of the top degrees held by CEOs:


Accounting, financial analysis, and investment management are just a few of the many subjects covered by finance majors. This degree is intended to provide practical knowledge of the financial industry, including corporate finance, banking, investments, and insurance.

What is a CEO’s gain from studying finance? Future CEOs can better comprehend the financial side of their careers and be better prepared for any accounting responsibilities they may have when managing the company’s finances by earning a degree in finance. Students majoring in finance research the financial market to spot patterns and forecasts. When a CEO is making crucial financial decisions for the business, these abilities might be helpful.


Students majoring in business learn the fundamentals of accounting, marketing, finance, and human resources. You gain knowledge of the fundamental organizational principles and business concepts through this thorough business education.

A business degree can prepare you for a variety of occupations. Future CEOs are better prepared with a business degree since it gives them a thorough understanding of all the departments and roles that make up an organization. Business degrees frequently place more emphasis on the interpersonal aspects of a company, such as marketing and personnel management, while also teaching financial management and budgeting skills.

Computer Science

The production of new technology, such as websites and apps, is referred to as computer science. The server-side of technology is created by individuals with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. If you enjoy working with technology and designing projects, a degree in computer science might be a good fit for you. This degree combines creativity and technical science.

CEOs with computer science backgrounds are probably employed in the technology sector. You can improve your problem-solving abilities, which are crucial for a CEO, by getting a degree in computer science.

Healthcare Administration

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities frequently employ people with degrees in healthcare management. Students who major in healthcare administration study insurance, day-to-day operations, care systems, and the overall function of finance in healthcare institutions with a concentration on the business side of health.

This degree can be the best option for a professional who wants to become the CEO of the healthcare sector because it equips them with the necessary business knowledge.


A business degree with a management concentration focuses on managing the day-to-day operations of an organization. Students who enroll in management programs are better prepared for both small- and big-scale leadership roles. What is a CEO’s advantage in getting a management degree? Your leadership and decision-making abilities can be strengthened by majoring in management.


The majority of engineering degrees have a particular area of concentration, such as civil, computer, electrical, or chemical. Engineering majors with these specializations can find employment in a range of sectors. Engineers rely on strategy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. When a CEO makes decisions for a firm, these abilities might be useful. Engineering-related businesses might want a CEO with industry experience to ensure they have the abilities and know-how to thrive.

Political science

Political science is the study of political institutions, political behavior, and statistical data. Political science majors concentrate on how government and justice systems affect society’s culture and economics.

Two people talking to a student for a letter of recommendation.

Future CEOs can hone their analytical and communication skills by earning a degree in political science. Additionally, it could give professionals a better understanding of how their choices and leadership style may influence the workplace culture.


A degree in communications teaches workers how to use powerful communication strategies in the commercial, legal, and media. Students who major in communications take a wide variety of coursework including subjects like journalism, marketing, sociology, and business.

A future CEO may find this wide education and focused training to improve communication techniques to be of great use. Many of the responsibilities that professionals do, especially those in leadership roles, require communication skills.

Liberal arts

A wide range of humanities disciplines, such as English, history, sociology, and the creative arts, are included in the liberal arts. Liberal arts graduates usually concentrate on one particular field of study.

What is a CEO’s gain in completing liberal arts degree? The communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative skills of liberal arts majors are usually improved. Professionals with a liberal arts degree can use these skills to flourish in a variety of fields.


The wealth, social classes, resource distribution, and consumer culture of a society’s financial systems are of particular interest to students of economics. A professional’s critical thinking and quantitative abilities can be improved with a degree in economics. A CEO may make wise financial decisions for the business they oversee with the support of the increased grasp of economic patterns that can be provided through this.

What Skills Should A CEO Have?

A CEO can play a variety of roles. They frequently communicate with management, the board, and the general public while serving as the company’s face to internal and external stakeholders. They oversee implementing the organization’s long-term plan and fostering brand values within the workforce. What skills should a CEO have? Let’s tackle more below:


A CEO should have a distinct vision for the direction they intend to take their company. When based on fact, ambition and optimism are positive traits, and the CEO of a firm needs to have faith in those objectives. The ability to persuade others to share your vision is a crucial leadership skill.

Being Receptive

It is essential to pay attention to those around you. Accepting the advice of fellow executives and board members is crucial because they are there to advise you in their own fields.

Two students talking while sitting on the floor.

Good listening habits and a sincere interest in other people’s concerns will enhance your reputation among coworkers, help you better grasp how the company runs daily, and overall help you make more wise business judgments.


A strong CEO possesses the capacity to pursue a goal with zeal and to inspire others to adopt the same outlook.

Making the most of your workforce is essential for corporate success. Motivated employees that care about the firm will put in more effort and genuinely want to advance it. Learn to inspire action in others and yourself.


Your strategy, priorities, and actions may be significantly impacted by changes in your industry, sector, and business. Accepting that and being able to shift course when necessary can be a very effective strategy.

What is a CEO’s skill that makes him/her a strong leader? He/she should also be able to modify their function to fit the needs of the business, whether that be for a start-up company or a worldwide conglomerate.


Being trustworthy and inspiring trust are qualities that make a strong leader and are crucial for a CEO. Stakeholders must have faith in your competence, and you must be at ease handing over responsibility to people with whom you collaborate.

A trustworthy CEO benefits from a productive workplace where staff talent is valued and has more time to concentrate on the larger picture.

How To Become A CEO?

1. Obtain the Education Required

How to become a CEO? Without a Master’s in Business Administration and a related degree, becoming a top executive is rare unless you are a company founder (MBA). Engineering, accounting, or economics degree is held by more than half of the Fortune 100 CEOs. At the undergraduate level, brands do not have as much of an impact as they do at the MBA level. Among the Fortune 100 CEOs, 40% attended prestigious universities.

Female student smiling at the camera while in a library.

Such top-brass educational schools offer an unrivaled network, as well as the importance of building your professional “brand.”

2. Acquire Required Experience

For the majority of CEOs, having considerable work experience both before and after the MBA has been advantageous. Choosing the correct companies is crucial not just for talent development but also for creating a strong peer network. The majority of executive hiring occurs through recommendations; C-suite openings are hardly ever advertised by businesses. As a result, if you want to become a CEO, one asset you need to build is a network of peers and coworkers.

3. Develop Your Leadership Skills

Leaders do not emerge out of thin air. People develop stronger leadership qualities with time and practice. According to Forbes, empathy is the answer to “What is a CEO’s most crucial quality to have?” The additional leadership qualities that are frequently observed are networking, problem-solving, composure, and the capacity to think creatively.

The following are the most crucial abilities a future leader should master if they want to become a CEO:

  1. Empathy
  2. Growth perspective
  3. Transparency
  4. Adaptability to change
  5. Approachability
  6. Crisp communication
  7. Executive presence
  8. Making decisions
  9. Being ethical and just
  10. Innovation

4. Build Your Executive Presence

Not all managers are also leaders. A leader is someone who commands respect and radiates poise and confidence. In the contemporary workplace, developing an executive presence is a skill that only a select few people have mastered. CEOs must have an executive presence because they are the company’s face.

5. Increase Your Impact

The first stage in increasing your impact is to create valuable connections and relationships. CEOs and C-suite executives network with other corporate executives and subject-matter experts to share ideas and obtain advice on how to avoid mistakes or deal with common labor issues. The cost and time involved in reinventing the wheel are excessive.

6. Examine Yourself and Work on Your Character

Self-reflection is an effective skill that leaders utilize to instill humility in their daily actions. At the pinnacle of the employee pyramid, they are frequently by themselves. They may assess their behavior and activities and identify their strengths, flaws, and potential growth areas through self-reflecting.

7. Start Outlining Your Vision

The vision of a corporation may be distinct from your personal vision. What kind of leader are you? What do you hope to accomplish? Start developing your vision; every CEO has one that is compelling and attainable. Your vision and the vision of your business gradually converge, only to grow stronger and more significant with time.

8. Develop Your People and Team Management Techniques

Without his or her team, a CEO cannot be successful. At all times, he needs their confidence and assistance. Developing your people and team management abilities will benefit you at every step and increase team trust.

Two students walking in front of a building.

9. Get to Know Other Leaders

Meeting and interacting with outstanding leaders is an excellent method to learn new hard and soft skills. Take note of their errors. Pay close attention to their anecdotes. Add them to LinkedIn to create a valuable network. All of this will prove useful later on.

Now that we have tackled “What is a CEO and how to become one?” then it’s time to work on your way up the ladder. Start with preparing for your college application with AdmissionSight. We will help you get into your preferred school with our programs and consultation services. Feel free to book an initial consultation with AdmissionSight now.


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