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CEO vs COO (2023 Guide)

ceo vs coo

Most people have heard of C-level executives. We all know those familiar acronyms: CFO, CMO, CTO, and so on. And some of us have probably worked under them too.

But two positions are very closely linked: CEO and COO. These jobs are very similar. So, what’s the difference? Though subtle, each role has a clearly defined variation from the other. Want to know what those differences are? 

Then let’s find out in my in-depth CEO vs COO comparison.

What Do The Terms Mean?

Firstly, you need to consider what the acronyms stand for. Most people already know that the C means ‘chief.’ But what about the other letters? The “E” in CEO stands for “executive.” The “O” in COO stands for “operations.” Then, the final “O” in both titles refers to “officer.”

CEO and COO Duties

The duties of a CEO and a COO are always related. The two executives must work in harmony to produce results of an extremely high standard. But which role is responsible for which duties?

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer

The CEO is the top dog of the workplace. They’re ultimately responsible for the successes and failures of a business. This role is often taken on by the founder of the company or is elected by a board of directors. CEOs are leaders. They take care of the big decisions a business might face, as well as long-term strategies. 

They’re the ones who need to send a message to the teams to ensure the company’s progression.

Duties of a CEO include:

  • Acting as the face of the company in both the business and public sectors.
  • Creating and developing company codes and processes.
  • Consideration of development paths to strengthen the business.
  • Authorizing major decisions to ensure company growth.
  • Creating new business goals.
  • Strategizing to effectively meet targets.

Chief Operations Officer

If the CEO is the head honcho, the COO is the second in command. They’re responsible for implementing strategies and dealing with the processes that keep the company operational. The heads of the various departments within the business report to the COO for instruction and assistance with any issues.

Duties of a COO include:

  • Reporting to the CEO to discuss strategy.
  • Leading and coordinating internal processes and departments.
  • Analyzing and comparing business metrics.
  • Communicating with the stakeholders.
  • Project development.
  • Risk assessment.

The Differences Between CEO vs COO

So far, the two jobs may seem almost identical. But get beneath the surface, and you’ll soon see that there are many differences. Every company has a hierarchy. Someone needs to be in charge. And that person is always the CEO. Yes, the COO is also incredibly important. Without a COO, many businesses would not be able to operate effectively. 

But when it comes down to it, the CEO is at the top of the food chain. As such, the CEO looks at the overview of the company. They need to think about the big picture. A CEO concentrates on developing the company as a whole, making major decisions, and moving the business forward.

The devil is in the details…

A COO is more concerned with the minutiae. They ensure the CEO’s decisions are implemented and understood. They deal with the workforce, whereas the CEO handles those outside the business.

Internal affairs, profit and loss, and client retainment are all part and parcel of a day in the life of a COO. While they may not be on the ground floor, they are concerned with how things are run day to day. To do this, they regularly meet with heads of departments to give instructions and feedback on the business’ continuing success and improvement.

What Are The Salaries?

What is a Six Figure Income?

Everything in life comes down to money, doesn’t it? And C-level executives get a pretty impressive salary. Add to that those yearly benefits, and you’re looking at a handsome sum of money. As head of the company, the CEO can expect to earn the most. But that doesn’t mean the COO loses out! A COO is also an extremely high-paying role.

As of August 2023, the average salary for a CEO in America is a whopping $800,635. That covers a range from $605,167 up to $1,031,554. And as for a COO, they’re looking at an average of $466,800, with a range of $363,100 to $605,000.

Money makes the world go round…

If you’re interested in finding out the average pay of other jobs, check out salary.com. Here, you can search for a huge variety of jobs to find out information about their salaries. It also includes resources for both employers and employees, such as a cost of living calculator, survey and data sets, as well as job listings.

How Do I Become a CEO or COO?

So, you’ve seen how much a C-level executive can earn, and you want to go for it! You can’t just walk straight into a job like this, though. There are a few hoops you need to jump through.

Education situation

Earn a bachelor’s degree

Unless it’s your own business, it’s very unlikely to find a C-level position that doesn’t require a certain level of education. These roles involve an excellent understanding of business, so at the very least, a bachelor’s degree is required (though a master’s is preferable). And the most desirable degree subjects for these jobs are engineering or business.

Are you experienced?

Next, C-level executives need experience in the industry. It’s vitally important that they have complete knowledge of how the business works. So, put in the time to get experience and learn valuable skills to help you along the way.

Become a business owner

However, the simplest way to become a CEO is to start your own business. This could involve branching out with an online company or even selling arts and crafts from your garage. Hey, even Jeff Bezos had to start somewhere!

Available CEO And COO Jobs

CEO worldwide is a fantastic resource if you’re looking for a C-level role. It contains job listings, as well as a place to upload your resume and introduction video for employers to find. And Clevelcrossing probably has the most CEO job postings you’re likely to find all together in one place.

Make Big Money Like The Top Dogs!

And we can help! Let’s begin with the Top Good High-Income Skills To Learn, for some insight, followed by the Best Jobs That Can Make You A Millionaire, the Best 6 Figure Jobs, and the Best Careers That Make You Rich to point you in the right direction.

Of course, for a more in-depth look into C-Level executive positions and what they entail, you’ll want to find out What Is A C-Level Executive, along with our COO Job DescriptionCEO Job DescriptionCTO Job Description, and CIO Job Description.

You might also want to know the difference between CEO vs CFO, or perhaps what the Goodwill CEO Salary is in 2023.

CEO vs COO – Final Thoughts

As you can see, the roles of the CEO and COO are very closely linked. But they do have their differences. And at the end of the day, it’s the CEO who is top of the food chain.

Plus, many companies do not have a COO at all. There’s no need for one in most smaller organizations. It’s only when business starts booming that they become really necessary. And who knows? 

Get your business started, and you could soon be channeling your inner Elon Musk!

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