Top Executives: Hard Work Pays Off
Top executives formulate the policies and direct the operations or corporations and government agencies. All organizations have specific goals and objectives that they strive to meet. Top executives develop strategies to make sure that these objectives are met. Although they have a wide range of titles such as chief executives officer, president, owner, or executive vice president, all create policies and direct the operations of businesses and corporations, and other organizations.
Job Description
The chief executive, along with other top executives, establish a corporations goals and policies. In large corporations, the executive officer meets regularly with assistant executives to ensure that operations are applied with these policies. The duties for top executives are highly specialized. For instance, managers of cost and profit center are responsible for the overall performance of one aspect of the organization, like the marketing, sales, purchasing, finance, or training departments.
Education/Training Required
The educational background of top executives varies as widely as the nature of their responsibilities. Many need a bachelors degree or higher in liberal arts or business administration. The major is usually related to the department they lead, such as an executive of finance may have a degree in accounting. Commonly, top executives have graduate and professional degrees.
Since many top executive positions are filled by promoting experienced, lower level managers when an opening happens, many are promoted within the organization. In industries like retail trade, it is possible for people without a college degree to work up within the company.
Top executives must have highly developed personal skills. An analytical mind is very important to quickly assess large amounts of information and data. They must also be able to communicate clearly and persuasively. Other qualities vital for success include leadership, self-confidence, motivation, flexibility, decisiveness, business judgment, and determination. Chief executive officers often become members of the board of directors of one or more firms, typically as a director of their own firm and chair of its board of directors. Some top executives establish their own firms or become independent consultants.

Education/Training Costs & Location
Advancement may be accelerated by participation in company training programs that impart a broader knowledge of company policy and operations. By becoming familiar with the latest developments in management techniques at national or local training programs sponsored by different industry and trade associations, this education will help executives in their careers. Those who have experience in a particular field, such as accounting or retailing, also attend executive development programs to assist their support to others. Participation in conferences and seminars can expand understanding of national and international issues influencing the organization and can help widen a network of valuable contacts.

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Salary, Benefits & Hours of Work
Even though top executive are amongst the highest paid worker, salary levels vary considerably depending on the level of responsibility, length of service, and type, location, and size of the firm. A top executive in a very large corporation can earn much more than someone working in a small firm. The median yearly earnings of tope executives in 1998 were $55,890. The middle 50% made between $34,970 and $94,650. Median annual income in the industries employing the most top executives in 1997 were:
Management and public relations$91,400
Computer and date processing services$90,600
Wholesale trade equipment and supplies$65,900
Salaries vary to a large extent by level and type of industry and responsibilities. A salary survey made by Executive Compensation Reports, a division of Harcourt Brace & Company, said the median income for CEOs of public companies from the economic year of 1998 Fortune 500 list was around $800,000. Another salary survey by Robert Half International, senior vice presidents/ heads of lending in banks with $1 billion or more in assets earned $200,000 in 1995.
In addition to salaries, total compensation frequently includes stock options, dividends, and other additional benefits. The use of executives dining rooms, company cars and expense allowances are among other benefits commonly enjoyed by top executives in private industries. CEOs (chief executive officers) often enjoy company-paid club memberships, a limousine with driver, and even the use of a private aircraft and other services.
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