Top Executives

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Supported: 99
  • Social: 77
  • Analytical: 77
  • Purpose: 75
  • Creative: 64

What Top Executives Do

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.

Work Environment

Top executives work in nearly every industry. They work for large and small businesses, ranging from companies in which they are the only employee to firms with thousands of employees. Top executives often work many hours, including evenings and weekends. In 2014, about half worked more than 40 hours per week. Travel is common, particularly for chief executives.

How to Become a Top Executive

Although education and training requirements vary widely by position and industry, many top executives have at least a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of work experience.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • General and operations managers
  • Chief executives and legislators

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of top executives is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by industry and is largely dependent on the rate of industry growth. Top executives are expected to face very strong competition for jobs.

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    Job Trends for Top Executives

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    This occupation supported 2,303,200 jobs in 2012 and 2,467,500 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 7.1%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 11.4% in 2022 to 2,564,700 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 2,355,500, compared with an observed value of 2,467,500, 4.8% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 6.4% in 2024 to 2,614,600 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 2,617,000 jobs for 2024, 0.1% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.