How To Become A Chief Operating Officer

A chief operating officer (COO) is one of the highest ranking executives within a company, working with and reporting to the chief executive officer (CEO). The objective of this professional is to enhance the services or products of the company, as well as provide it with both short- and long-term goals. Their primary endeavor is to reduce costs and increase profit, ensuring that a company’s business plan meets this goal in the most efficient manner.

Why Become A Chief Operating Officer

A COO is an individual who understands management theories and principles. He or she is the key person within the company who understands how business works and how that particular company excels. To take on such a task, COOs must be well-rounded and high achievers in many areas. Not only do they analyze company finances to find savings, but they are also responsible for creating marketing plans and other major business decisions. COOs are leaders, and becoming one requires patience, tenacity, and networking skills. An aspiring COO must have credentials but must also make an impact at the company.

Chief Operating Officer Work Environment

COOs can work for private industry or government-affiliated non-profit organizations and charities. They typically work in a professional business environment, using office equipment daily to perform their duties.

COOs work long hours and usually work weekends. Some travel should also be expected of this position, depending on the business.

Chief Operating Officer Salary

In 2014, the mean salary for all chief executives was $180,700, per year. However, COOs typically make an average $420,343 per year, with salaries ranging from $200,000 to over $600,000, depending on the company’s abilities and profits.

Chief Operating Officer Career Outlook

For all top executives, the job growth is expected to be about 11%. Technology and globalization have made this field flourish, but there is always a need for a COO to manage corporate responsibilities.

Chief Operating Officer Degree

While there is no one path toward becoming a COO, there are educational requirements and preferences.

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree. This degree should be in business or a related field. The most widely accepted degree is a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA). Within a BBA program, students will choose a major to study. It is recommended that aspiring COOs choose a path in management. The general coursework of a BBA consists of accounting, macroeconomics, information systems, business math, and microeconomics. Most programs end with an internship.

Step 2: Obtain a master’s degree. While it is possible to become a COO with only a BBA, most companies prefer a Master of Business Administration (MBA). This type of degree often leads to a position in the private sector. Most graduate programs offer specializations of study, including management, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and management information systems. The recommendation for COOs is to take courses in a management track. MBA coursework consists of teamwork and managing coworkers, economics, statistical methods, and other tools that COOs use. MBAs are designed with the professional in mind; therefore, many programs are offered through online programs.

Note: While it is possible to substitute a formal education with experience and talent, it is rare. Most companies look for a candidate that has many years’ experience in operations and senior management. It may be necessary to take a few lateral moves within a company to understand its operations.

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