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I want to be an executive. What will my salary be?

C-suite employees make a great living. They're also worth it, says one expert

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This story is part of the Globe Careers’ series looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries. For more, see our Salaries series.

Job:

Executive, such as a chief executive officer or a chief financial officer

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Salary:

For a billion-dollar-plus sized publicly traded company, base salary starts at about $500,000 to more than $1-million (with exceptions). This doesn’t include bonuses or other incentives.

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Education:

Most CEOs or CFOs have specialized financial designations, or a master's or doctorate degree.

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By the numbers:

Men continue to dominate the C-suite. A recent study by women’s advocacy group Catalyst found that women made up 18.1 per cent of senior officers and top earners at Canada’s 500 largest companies in 2012, up only marginally from 17.7 per cent in 2010.

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The job:

It’s all about making decisions that are best for the company. CEOs and other top executives are responsible for all aspects of the company, which includes the people that work for it, as well as its performance and keeping its shareholders happy.

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The job:

“The CEO at the end of the day is responsible for the overall leadership of the organization, but they’re also responsible for ensuring that they have the best available talent,” said Michael Mundy, partner at executive search firm Odgers Berndtson. He said that includes having a succession plan in place for when someone leaves.

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Job prospects:

C-suite executives are in a prime position to get other big roles in the company, including the top job as CEO. And, once you're CEO, you're qualified for a number of other CEO positions down the road.
Then, once you grow tired of running the show, many CEOs transition nicely into retirement with board positions, which mix well with golf dates and long trips to exotic locations around the world.

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Challenges:

It’s a high-pressure job with a great deal of responsibility. Whatever goes wrong – whether it’s a falling share price or an employee that steals from the company – top management is always to blame for what is considered flaws in the organization.
“The amount of pressure that sits on these individuals’ shoulders, and the amount of people that are depending on them to make decisions every single day is tremendous,” said Mr. Mundy.

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Misconceptions:

Most people see CEOs as being overpaid. “That’s just not the truth,” said Mr. Mundy. “These are people whose identity ultimately becomes the organization they are running.”
A recent University of Toronto study shows Canadian company CEO pay was aligned with company performance at 81 per cent of companies in the S&P/TSX 60 index between 2004 and 2011.

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you an executive in Canada?

Write a note in the comments area and tell us what you would tell others who are interested in the profession, or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com

Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Click here:

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