How to Become a CEO of a Company in 5 Steps

For many of us, the thought of becoming a CEO of a major corporation is the ultimate dream. With a mean annual wage of $213,020, as reported here by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it isn’t hard to see why the position of CEO is so highly coveted.

Whether it’s Bill Gates at Microsoft, who became CEO after founding the company in 1975; Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, who went from Harvard student to CEO in just six years; or any of the other countless CEOs who have made it to the top, their success is something many of us aspire to achieve. The path to becoming a CEO, however, is not as straightforward as many people might think. While some may choose to start their own companies, for most, the only way to reach the pinnacle of success is to climb the corporate ladder one rung at a time.

In this article, we will teach you how to become a CEO of a company by following this five-step guide. We will discuss the responsibilities of a CEO, the education and experience needed to become one, and the strategies you can use to work your way up the corporate ladder. At the end, you will have a better understanding of how to become a CEO, including the qualifications and skills needed to reach that level of success.

Even though research shows that white men over the age of 50 tend to dominate the CEO scene, this doesn’t mean that those in other demographics can’t still be successful. There are many different paths to success in executive roles, and people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds can achieve it. With this article, you can learn how to become a part of the c-suite and join the ranks of the world’s most successful CEOs consistently found on Forbes — no matter whether you’re a startup founder or climbing to the top of a Fortune 500 company.

What Is a CEO?

The CEO job is the highest-ranking executive position in a company, typically responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction and leading the board of directors, as well as all other company professionals, to ensure the business’s growth. The CEO is accountable to the stakeholders and board members, and must make sure that the company’s interests are being managed effectively and ethically. To succeed, the CEO must be able to juggle the day-to-day operations of the company while also maintaining a long-term vision that will ensure the company’s ongoing success and prosperity.

Personality traits that make a person suitable for this job include strong leadership skills, creativity, communication abilities, and the capacity to think strategically. The CEO must also possess strong decision-making skills, be able to handle stress, and have a good understanding of business and financial processes. According to this article from Investopedia, other important traits include being able to inspire and motivate others, work as a team player, and build relationships and trust with stakeholders.

What Are the Responsibilities of a CEO?

CEOs have a wide range of responsibilities and require strong leadership, business acumen, and management skills. A CEO is responsible for setting the overall vision and direction of the company, as well as working with the board of directors to develop and implement strategies to help the company achieve its goals. They must also make decisions related to company operations, finances, and human resources. Additionally, the CEO must be a liaison between the company and its stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and the media. CEOs ensure the company is in compliance with relevant laws and is on track to meet its financial objectives. Overall, the CEO is the face of the company and must be able to effectively manage and lead the business to success.

How Much Does a CEO Get Paid?

As reported on Salary.com, the average salary of a CEO in the United States is $809,775 per year. The salary range for a CEO typically falls between $612,073 and $1,043,357, with the highest salaries being found in the largest cities, such as New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. Salaries can also vary depending on the size of the company, industry, and experience of the CEO.

CEOs with more experience and a proven track record of success can command higher salaries than those with less experience. CEOs in larger companies or those in certain industries, such as finance, technology, or healthcare, may also earn more than CEOs in smaller companies or those in other industries. In order to earn higher salaries, aspiring CEOs should strive to increase their experience and knowledge, deepen their understanding of their chosen industry, and demonstrate their success in their current role.

how much does a ceo get paid

Chief Executive Officer: Necessary Skills

The role of a chief executive officer (CEO) is a highly demanding one, requiring an exceptional skill set. There are many different skills required of a CEO, ranging anywhere from time management to effective delegation. However, three skills in particular are crucial for the position: leadership abilities, problem-solving, and communication. CEOs hold a leadership role in any given organization and are responsible for the overall success of the business. As such, the combination of these essential qualities is imperative for business leaders to excel in the CEO role, so if this is the path you’re looking to take, make sure you put considerable effort into developing this particular skill set.

Leadership Abilities

A CEO is responsible for setting the tone and direction of the entire organization, so leadership abilities are a must. A CEO needs to be able to guide and motivate their team while also overseeing the big picture and making strategic decisions. Developing strong leadership abilities requires continual practice and self-reflection, which can be achieved by attending leadership workshops, reading books on the subject, and making an effort to learn from mistakes. Additionally, aspiring CEOs should seek out mentors to provide personalized advice for improving their leadership skills.

Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving is an essential skill for a CEO, as it allows them to identify issues and develop creative solutions to ensure the company’s success. Problem-solving requires the ability to think critically, analyze data, and identify potential risks. To develop this skill, practice brainstorming, focus on understanding the root cause of any problems that arise, and remain open-minded to different solutions.

Communication Skills

Having strong communication skills allows a CEO to effectively and accurately convey their message and vision to their team, stakeholders, and customers. As a CEO, being an excellent communicator can help build trust, foster relationships, and ensure that everyone involved in the organization is on the same page. You can further develop this skill by practicing active listening, being mindful of your body language, speaking clearly and concisely, and seeking feedback. Additionally, reading books on communication, taking courses on the subject, and networking with other professionals in the industry can help you strengthen this skill.

The Path to Becoming a CEO

Becoming a CEO is not an automatic promotion that comes after ticking all the boxes; it is an achievement built on experience and the continuous development of essential skills, traits, and knowledge. When it comes to learning how to become a CEO of a company, you must first create a career path that will lead you to the executive level. This can begin with a high school diploma or a formal education, such as a master’s degree or business school. After gaining the necessary education, the next step is to gain experience. This can involve taking on lower-level positions, gaining an understanding of different industries, and working hard to progress in the field.

Networking is also an important factor in becoming a CEO. Networking allows you to build relationships with people who have had success in the field and can help you gain access to knowledge and resources. You can take advantage of LinkedIn, Harvard Business Review, and other resources to build your professional network. Once the right network has been established, you can work your way up to executive positions and eventually the role of CEO. MBA programs can be a great way to develop the necessary skills and knowledge for executive positions, and can act as a stepping stone toward becoming a CEO. With the right education, experience, and networking, you can increase your chances of successfully landing this position.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Getting a bachelor’s degree, especially one from the selection of available business degrees, is an essential step for anyone striving to become a CEO. You will gain a wealth of knowledge and skills in business, leadership, and management that will give you the foundation for success. A degree in business administration, accounting, or finance is highly recommended for aspiring CEOs, as these degrees will provide you with the technical know-how to manage the complexities of a business.

A business administration degree will give you a broad knowledge of business topics such as economics, marketing, and financial accounting, while an accounting degree will enable you to develop a thorough understanding of financial statements and regulations. A finance degree will help you identify and analyze investment opportunities and understand the various financial instruments available to businesses. Each of these degrees has its pros and cons, so make sure to carefully consider which one is most appropriate for your professional goals.

2. Get Relevant Work Experience

When you are striving to become a CEO, gaining relevant work experience is essential. It takes years of experience in a leadership role to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in this position. Through on-the-job experience, you can learn the best practices of a successful leader and develop the confidence to take on a new role as CEO.

With work experience, you will also gain an understanding of how different organizations operate and the strategies that are most effective in leading them. This knowledge will be invaluable when you are faced with difficult decisions and challenges as a CEO. You must be prepared to make difficult decisions quickly and confidently, and having relevant work experience will give you the confidence to do so.

work experience to become ceo

3. Get an MBA

Getting an MBA is definitely a valuable step worth considering for anyone aspiring to be a CEO. The degree offers you the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge you need to become a successful leader. An MBA provides a comprehensive overview of the key business disciplines, from accounting to marketing to finance, giving you an understanding of the entire business landscape. It also gives you the chance to build a professional network with other business leaders.

However, getting an MBA also comes with certain drawbacks. It can be a costly investment and requires a substantial commitment of time and energy, especially if you pursue a full-time program. Additionally, the degree can be seen as a commodity, and it may not be enough to differentiate you from the competition. Don’t assume it’s your “golden ticket” to advancing your career. If an MBA degree is what you want to pursue, make sure that you’re basing your decision on the right reasons.

The good news is that there are many options when it comes to getting an MBA, should you decide it’s the correct route for you to take. You can pursue a full-time program, an online program, or an Executive MBA (EMBA) program. Each of these options allows you to tailor your education to your individual needs and goals.

A full-time program is the most traditional and comprehensive approach, but it is also the most time-consuming. An online program offers more flexibility and can be completed at your own pace, though it may not provide the same level of interaction with faculty and other students as a traditional program would. An Executive MBA (EMBA) program is typically designed for experienced professionals who wish to advance their careers without quitting their jobs, as this option is typically shorter than a traditional MBA program, and it’s also generally more affordable. Finally, if you don’t have a lot of time to commit, you can consider a specialized MBA program that focuses on a particular area of business, such as finance or marketing.

4. Focus on Networking

Networking is an essential step for anyone seeking to become a CEO. Having the right contacts and developing meaningful relationships throughout your career journey can be a key factor in achieving this goal. As highlighted by Psychology Today, “Networking helps you build a circle of contacts who will be there to offer support and advice on how to take your career to the next level.” This can be invaluable in helping you gain knowledge, learn from others’ experiences, and make the connections that can be critical to success. Therefore, you should begin building your network early in your career, and strive to maintain and nurture those relationships throughout your journey.

There are a variety of ways to network. You could attend events such as conferences, seminars, and networking mixers that are related to your field or industry. It is also important to take advantage of online networking opportunities, such as joining professional groups on social media platforms, participating in webinars and online forums, and connecting with industry experts through email or messaging. Additionally, you could consider volunteering with organizations related to your field, as this can be a great way to meet potential contacts and broaden your network. Lastly, you should make an effort to reach out to people you know, such as former colleagues, family members, and friends. These contacts can be valuable resources as you develop your career and work toward your goal of becoming a CEO.

5. Develop Your Leadership Skills

Developing leadership skills is essential for anyone wanting to know how to become a CEO of a company. You need to be able to effectively manage and lead a team, see the big picture, and have the ability to delegate tasks and make innovative decisions. While you may have the necessary skills to become a CEO, you will have to continuously work on and develop your management and leadership skills if you want to remain successful.

You can do this by continuously learning and staying on top of industry trends, taking classes, and attending seminars. You should also strive to build relationships and network with other professionals, as this will give you access to mentors, resources, and knowledge. Furthermore, you should strive to become a mentor yourself, as this will help you gain insight into how to better manage and lead your team. All of these will help you build your leadership skills and become a successful CEO.

How Long Does It Take to Become a CEO?

Becoming a CEO is no easy feat. It is a long and difficult journey that requires an incredible amount of dedication and hard work. Generally, it takes a minimum of 10–15 years to become a CEO. However, the actual number of years may vary significantly depending on a variety of aspects, such as the industry, company size, qualifications, and experience.

For example, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon had a total of 30 years of experience with the company before becoming CEO. This included working in various roles, such as merchandise manager, senior vice president, executive vice president, and president and CEO of Walmart International. It is clear that McMillon had the qualifications and experience required to become CEO of this major company.

Becoming a CEO may be achieved in two different ways. The first is by climbing the corporate ladder, which involves gaining a great deal of experience within the same company, working your way up, and taking on more responsibility with each promotion. Alternatively, you may become a CEO by advancing through the ranks at different companies, allowing you to gain a breadth of experience and further develop your skills and abilities while seeking increasingly higher positions. However, bear in mind that whichever avenue you choose will still require tremendous work on your part. It’s likely to take some time, as with nearly all successful CEOs today, but that doesn’t mean the long-term goal isn’t an achievable one.

Every situation will vary, but in short, the majority of CEOs hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have five years of management experience under their belt. Those who are serious about becoming a CEO should follow the necessary steps as highlighted above, and if you’re looking to get an edge on your competition, we’d suggest also working toward an MBA — which shows serious commitment and will provide you with a considerable amount of knowledge that will help you advance your career goals. Essentially, with the right combination of these elements, you can become a successful CEO in your chosen industry.

Kickstart Your Career with Crummer

Becoming a CEO is not an easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication, and it’s important that you follow the necessary steps to get there. However, with the right skill set, education, and a lot of perseverance, you’ll have what it takes to land the position and unlock the door to your executive suite. It may seem like a lot of work now, but several years down the line, you’ll be able to look back on your career path with pride — and a cup of coffee in your hand.

If you want to know how to become CEO of a company, an MBA program provides the perfect platform for aspiring business leaders to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for success. At Crummer, we believe that an MBA is more than just a professional certification; it’s a valuable asset to your career. Crummer offers three different MBA programs: the Executive MBA, which is tailored to the needs of mid-career professionals; the Professional MBA, which offers a combination of in-person and online courses to provide flexibility for working professionals; and the Early Advantage MBA, which is designed for recent college graduates looking to jumpstart their career. If you’re serious about becoming a CEO, don’t wait any longer to take the first step on your journey — visit our website to explore our MBA programs and find the one that best suits your goals and lifestyle.