How To Become a Chief Executive

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Chief Executives

Chief Executives determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private and public sector organizations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. Plan, direct, or coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management with the help of subordinate executives and staff managers.

Becoming One
Very Hard
Master's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth


What degree do you need

Recommended degree level

Master’s Degree

We did a survey to ask other Chief Executives what degree they had when they became a Chief Executive. Here are the results.
Master’s Degree

Bachelor’s Degree

Post-Master’s Certificate

One of the most common questions that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become Chief Executives or what courses do I need to take.

We also asked Chief Executives what did they major in college or university and here are the top 5 most popular majors that came up.

Public Administration
Business Administration and Management
Entrepreneurial Studies

Many Chief Executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or in an area related to their field of work. Chief Executives in the public sector often have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Chief Executives of large corporations often have a master of business administration (MBA).

How hard is it

Very Hard

You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge and experience to be a Chief Executive. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, a surgeon must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Careers in this difficulty category may need some on-the-job-training, but most of these careers assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, and work-related experience and training. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, neurologists, and veterinarians.

Related work experience required
Over 10 years

Over 10 years

6 to 8 years

2 to 4 years

Job training


6 months to 1 year

1 to 3 months

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification
Recommended but not required

Chief Executives may complete a certification program through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers to earn the Certified Manager (CM) credential. To become a CM, candidates must meet education and experience requirements and pass three exams.

Skills required

We asked other Chief Executives if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Judgement and Decision Making what does this mean
2. Speaking what does this mean
3. Critical Thinking what does this mean
4. Complex Problem Solving what does this mean
5. Social Perceptiveness what does this mean

= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need certain know-hows to excel at your job. Chief Executives are generally very knowledgeable in these 5 key areas.

1. Administration and Management what does this mean
2. Personnel and Human Resources what does this mean
3. Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
4. English Language what does this mean
5. Law and Government what does this mean

Learn more about Chief Executives

Job Description
Requirements (You are here)

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