How to Become an Executive Vice President?

Are you thinking of becoming an Executive Vice President or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Executive Vice President, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Executive Vice President job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
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Steps to Become an Executive

Executives have some of the top leadership roles within an organization. They're responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating essential operational activities within the company. They often assess the company's performance and develop or adjust policies and programs that will increase efficiency or profitability. The chief executive officer (CEO) is one of the best-known executive positions, but there are many other roles at this level as well. You might choose to work as an executive director, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, or vice president. Here are three steps that you should follow to become an executive.

Get a college education.

Executives typically have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and many have a master's degree as well. Many executives have degrees in business, accounting, or economics, though some may pursue science, engineering, or law as well. Your college education should provide you with a well-rounded understanding of business management.

It's also helpful to hone your communications skills in college, as strong written and verbal communication is crucial for an executive. Consider joining the debate team, writing for the school newspaper, or tutoring throughout college to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. If you choose to continue your education, an MBA will position you well for an executive role.


Gain work experience.

It's difficult to enter a new company in an executive role. Most executives work their way up from within an organization. In most cases, Fortune 100 firms select an internal candidate as CEO. Many future CEOs begin in major consulting firms before joining the company, where they will ultimately become an executive. Future executives typically work in operational or finance roles before gaining a promotion to the executive level. Some executives can also earn higher-level executive roles. For example, many Fortune 100 CEOs begin as CFOs.

Leadership experience is one of the most important things to acquire with your work on the job. Seek leadership roles within your organization, or volunteer to take point and lead on important projects. Practice delegation, organization, and time management on a small scale as you prepare to take on these tasks at the top of the company.


Earn industry certifications.

There are numerous certifications that you can earn to help you increase your chances of getting into an executive position. The CEO Institute offers a Full Certified CEO Certification, Provisional Certified CEO Certification, and Full Certified Manager Certification. Additionally, the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) provides a Certified Manager Certification.

You can pursue certification in a particular area, such as the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. Alternately, you can focus on a particular industry with something like the Sales Management Specialist credential from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) also offers a Certified Management Executive (CME) designation that you can pursue.

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Related careers in the Business Industry

Interested in other Business careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Executive Vice President skills. Discover some of the most common Executive Vice President career transitions, along with skills overlap.

0% skills overlap
17% transitioned to President