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Highest Paid US CEOs: Top Salaries in 2024

In 2021, Elon Musk received the highest compensation till date as a CEO. This compensation was a mix of salary from the company and stock options awarded to him by the company. This showed the importance of a CEO to the rest of the world. Let us take a look at the top 10 highest paid CEOs in the US.

Who is a CEO?

A CEO, or chief executive officer, is the highest-ranking executive in a company who is responsible for making major corporate decisions, managing resources, and ensuring the success of the business. The CEO is typically appointed by the company’s board of directors and serves as the public face of the company, interacting with shareholders, customers, and the media.

How is the salary of a CEO set?

The CEO is responsible for multiple tasks in a company, such as setting the company’s vision and goals, develops and implements strategies to achieve those goals, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. They are also responsible for ensuring that the company is profitable and sustainable over the long term, and for making decisions that impact the company’s financial performance, reputation, and success.

Owing to this, they are often rewarded with high salaries. These salaries consist of base salary set by the board of directors, additional bonuses, long-term incentive payouts and stock gains in the form of value realized from exercising stock options.

Top 10 highest paid CEOs

Here are the highest-paid CEOs.

  1. Elon Musk, Tesla Inc.: Approx. $23.5 billion per year
    Elon Musk is a South African-born entrepreneur, investor, and engineer who is best known for his role as CEO of Tesla Inc. He also founded SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. In 2021, Musk became the world’s richest person with a net worth of over $200 billion, largely due to his holdings in Tesla. Musk’s salary as CEO of Tesla is relatively modest but he receives a large compensation package in the form of stock options. In 2020, Musk received a stock award worth $2.28 billion, which was the largest CEO compensation package in history. As of February 2023, his net worth is estimated to be around $117 billion.
  2. Tim Cook, Apple Inc.: Approx. $770.5 million per year
    Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple Inc., one of the world’s most valuable companies. Cook joined Apple in 1998 and became CEO in 2011, following the resignation of Steve Jobs. Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has continued to release innovative products such as the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, as well as expanding into new markets such as healthcare and streaming media.
  3. Sundar Pichai, Alphabet Inc.: Approx. $280 million per year
    Sundar Pichai is an Indian-American businessman and the CEO of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. Pichai joined Google in 2004 and became CEO in 2015. He has overseen significant growth and expansion of Google’s business, including the launch of new products such as Google Home and Google Pixel.
  4. Jensen Huang, NVIDIA: Approx. $561 million per year
    Huang is the co-founder of NVIDIA, a software company best known for its Shield gaming consoles and advancements in Artificial Intelligence. Huang received about $561 million from expiring options that had been granted in 2011 and 2012.
  5. Reed Hastings, Netflix: Approx. $453.5 million per year
    Hastings is the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of the streaming giant. Netflix is one of the top online streaming companies in the world. Hastings led Netflix from a DVD service to one of the major players of online streaming companies.
  6. Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: Approx. $452.9 million per year
    Schleifer is the co-founder and CEO of Regeneron, a biopharmaceutical company that makes a variety of medications that treat asthma, cancer, chronic pain, and more. This company gained popularity post COVID-19.
  7. Marc Benioff, Salesforce: Approx. $439.4 million per year
    Benioff founded the company Salesforce in 1999 and is the co-CEO of the company with Bret Taylor. Under Benioff’s leadership the company adopted the marketing slogan “The End of Software.” Salesforce’s acquisitions of MuleSoft, Tableau, and Slack have helped fuel growth in recent years. Revenue rose 24.7% percent in 2021.
  8. Satya Nadella, Microsoft: Approx. $309.4 million per year
    Satya Nadella is the CEO of one of the most popular companies, Microsoft. Nadella’s peers believe that he should get much more compensation than he is currently getting. Nadella has headed the “most underrated CEO” list since 2017.
  9. Robert A. Kotick, Activision Blizzard: Approx. $296.7 million per year
    Kotick became CEO of Activision in 1991. The gaming giant, known for its games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, ranked 396 on this year’s Fortune 500.
  10. Hock E. Tan, Broadcom: Approx. $288 million per year
    Tan is the CEO of Broadcom which is a company that designs and manufactures a range of semiconductor and software products. Tan is originally from Malaysia and attended M.I.T. on a scholarship before entering the business world.

Some of the above salaries estimation is taken from the article published by Fortune.com.

Career path of a CEO

Let us understand the steps that are commonly taken by most CEOs.

  1. Get the right education: A good education is considered the best asset that any person can have. On the path to becoming a CEO, a degree with a business outlook is considered appropriate. A college degree in a relevant field such as business, finance, or management is often required for a CEO position. A graduate degree, such as an MBA, can also be beneficial.
  2. Gain relevant work experience: The average age of a CEO is about 57 years old, according to Fortune.com. Aspiring chief executive officers need several years of experience in upper-level management positions within a company or industry. It is important to gain holistic experience to become a CEO, in areas such as finance, marketing, operations, and leadership.
  3. Develop a diverse set of skills: CEOs need to have a wide range of skills, including strong leadership and management abilities, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and a deep understanding of their industry and market.
  4. Networking: Building professional relationships with people in your industry can be crucial to your success as a CEO. This includes attending industry events and conferences, joining professional organizations, and building relationships with mentors and other leaders in your field.
  5. Be proactive: Take initiative and take on additional responsibilities within your current role, volunteer for leadership positions in organizations you’re a part of, and pursue opportunities to lead projects or teams.
  6. Be adaptable and open to change: CEOs need to be able to adapt to changes in the market, the economy, and the company, and be willing to make difficult decisions.
  7. Be persistent and resilient: The path to becoming a CEO can be long and challenging. It requires persistence, hard work, and the ability to overcome obstacles.
  8. Get executive education: Someone aspiring for a CEO position often has completed their MBA and gained a good position in a company. But before you can even apply for the position, you have to work for a considerable time. Executive education equips you with skills and knowledge that gives you the boost to reach a high leadership position. It gives you the best possible ways to apply the skills you have learned over the years. Here are a few executive education programs that have been opted by people.

Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM)

The Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM) is a general management program that prepares you for the next level of leadership. This program is created in such a way that it helps transform proven leaders into global executives ready to lead the charge. The Berkeley Executive Program in Management encourages its participants to reflect, enhance strategic thinking, and develop authentic leadership. It is designed to create an immersive, relevant, and dynamic learning experience for senior executives, ready for the next level of the leadership challenge. It includes modules on advanced management competencies, leading innovative change, etc., which are a must for a person in C-level positions to ensure the growth of the company.

MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP)

This is a multi-modular program delivered by MIT faculty on campus and virtually, geared towards the development needs of the next generation of technology CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, and emerging leaders.  The program is designed for technology leaders and experienced practitioners from large corporations as well as startups—innovation-oriented firms that are focusing on leveraging emerging digital technologies to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. After completing TLP, you will be part of a cohort of global leaders and practitioners. You will also become an integral part of the global MIT Professional Education network and will be considered an alumni of TLP as well as MIT Professional Education.

MIT Professional Education | Technology Leadership Program

UCLA Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives (UCLA PGPX)

It is an extensive general management program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, one of the world’s top business schools. It is a part-time program with a modular format that provides great flexibility for busy professionals, while the UCLA faculty and industry leaders ensure that the program covers all aspects of best-in-class management education expected from a highly respected and globally renowned institution. The UCLA PGPX will put you on the map of global leadership, with a combination of strategies, skills, and acumen that will stretch your thinking and hone your abilities as a leader and manager capable of achieving remarkable growth in your business. This program has been designed to expose the participants to management and business leadership essentials in an extensive general management curriculum that is designed to be experiential in learning and applied in focus.

Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program (ADP)

The Chicago Booth ADP is a rigorous learning journey across 8 modules spread over 9 months and gives you access to the latest management thinking and tools. It is taught by an award-winning faculty at the Chicago Booth School of Business and accomplished senior business leaders. It creates an amazing opportunity to build a strong personal brand and competitively position yourself and your organization. ADP actively engages you in a collaborative learning environment with accomplished peers in . The Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program is designed for the global executive with a focus on delivering impact and leveraging the significant history of the Accelerated Development Program delivered across the globe. The program is tailored for the busy schedules of senior professionals and is blended in design, with academic on-campus modules and off-campus experiences with online learning and live interactions to complement the on-campus experiences. You will build a global community of like-minded leaders and will become part of the Global ADP Network for life.

Conclusion

CEOs play a crucial role in the success of a company, and they are often rewarded with high salaries and compensation packages for their contributions. The top 10 highest-paid CEOs in the USA are a diverse group of individuals who have overseen the growth and expansion of some of the world’s largest and most successful companies. The right education and work experience can help you in the path of pursuing a career path to becoming a successful CEO.

The highest-paid job in the world is considered to be that of the CEO, due to the additional bonuses and stock options they get.

The average chief executive officer salary in the United States is $812,010 as of January 26, 2023, according to Salary.com. An executive education program such as MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP) would help prepare for the position of CEO.

The top 5 strengths that a successful CEO has are good leadership skills, open mindedness, vision, teamwork, and risk management.

Padmavati

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