Although education and training vary widely by position and industry, many top executives have at least a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of work experience. Many top executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or in an area related to their field of work. College presidents and school superintendents typically have a doctoral degree in the field in which they originally taught or in education administration. Top executives in the public sector often have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Top executives of large corporations often have a Master of Business Administration (MBA degree).
Top executives who are promoted from lower level managerial or supervisory positions within their own firm often can substitute experience for education. In industries such as retail trade or transportation, for example, people without a college degree may work their way up to higher levels within the company and become executives or general managers.
Top executives must have related work experience. In some companies they are promoted from within their organization. However, other companies may prefer to hire from outside the organization.
Top executives must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively. They must effectively discuss issues and negotiate with others, direct subordinates, and explain their policies and decisions to those within and outside the organization. Top executives also need decision-making skills when setting policies and managing an organization. They must assess different options and choose the best course of action, often daily. They must be able to lead a successful organization by coordinating policies, people, and resources.