According to the most recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics, business degrees continue to be the most sought after and commonly earned at the bachelor’ level. That’s not surprising when you learn that business is one of the highest paying areas of the workforce. As of 2018, the median annual salary for leaders with business degrees was $68,350, almost double the salary for all other jobs.
Generous pay isn’t limited to top-level employees, either. From mid-level managers to C-suite executives, there are plenty of positions that earn well over the average salary for all other careers. This is great news for anyone interested in entering the field, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected nearly 800,000 jobs to be added to the business sector by 2026.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 highest paying business jobs along with job descriptions of each, their career outlook, and what it takes to earn these positions.
10 Highest Paying Careers in Business
Note that all salary data, unless otherwise stated, comes from PayScale while all job data was retrieved from the BLS.
1. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Average Annual Salary: Up to $253,647
The salary for chief marketing officers, which ranges from $85,649 to $253,647, is promising no matter where you land on the scale. Typical job responsibilities for CMOs include creating and managing a company’s marketing plan, setting marketing goals, and translating the company’s vision in a way that resonates with other employees. They’re also often responsible for communicating company goals to the media and clients.
Top executive positions are expected to grow 8% by 2026. Significant experience is a must for this position, and many CMOs hold a master’s degree in marketing or a marketing MBA. Most CMOs have at least 10 years of experience.
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2. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Average Annual Salary: Up to $309,107
The position of chief executive officer is one of the highest paying careers in business with a salary range from $72,822 to $309,107. CEOs are the top position in an organization and are responsible for the overall success of the business. They strategize, regulate, and oversee the performance of the company at a high level. CEOs manage company operations as well as create and implement policies to ensure goals are met. In addition, they work closely with top executives in other areas of the company and typically report to the company’s board of directors.
The outlook for top executive positions is promising and is projected to grow 8% through 2026.
3. Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
Average Annual Salary: Up to $243,682
The salary for a chief human resources officer ranges from $91,231 to $243,682. Those in this position are responsible for all HR programs within a company, from recruiting and hiring to training and terminating. They also help with the development of the planned direction of a company and stand as the head of all HR-related departments.
The job outlook for all top executive positions is slightly above the national average at 8% projected growth through 2026. CHROs are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field and extensive HR experience. Though not always necessary, many prospective CHROs pursue a master’s degree.
4. Vice President of Marketing
Average Annual Salary: $144,208
Vice presidents of marketing are responsible for strategizing ways to improve or maintain the company’s stake in a specific market. They are often involved with multiple aspects of the company’s products, from branding to advertising and sometimes pricing, too. These vice presidents typically oversee the managers and directors of teams responsible for branding, advertising or media buying, creative production, and marketing research. They often assist those managers in directing the company’s marketing vision, setting budgets, and reporting expenses.
The job outlook for marketing managers, a position that often leads into that of vice president, is projected to grow 10% by 2026. Those in this position usually have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, advertising, or communications. Many people in this position decide to pursue their MBA or a similar advanced degree.
5. Vice President of Finance
Average Annual Salary: $134,675
Right at the doorstep of the C-suite, the vice president of finance is the important link between the upper executives and management. People in this role are responsible for communicating the desires of the executive team to those at lower levels of the organization. They lead and coordinate financial planning, financing, and budget management.
Upper-level financial manager positions have an incredible estimated growth rate of 19%, nearly three times higher than the national average. Typically, working as a financial manager in some capacity is a step to becoming a vice president of finance. At a minimum, the position requires five years of experience and some sort of advanced degree, such as an MBA or a master’s degree in accounting.
6. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Average Annual Salary: $130,184
Chief financial officer is the highest accounting-based position within a company, with an average annual salary of $130,184. The primary responsibilities of a CFO are to direct yearly budgets and long-term financial goals, while making sure financial reporting is on-time and accurate. Depending on the size of the company, exact responsibilities vary.
As part of the executive team, the estimated job growth for this role is 8% through 2026. Though there are people who rise to the level of CFO with only a bachelor’s degree, this trajectory isn’t very common. Having a bachelor’s in finance, accounting, or a related field in addition to a master’s degree will often give candidates an advantage in the hiring process. People in this position must have significant experience in financial management, analysis, and reporting, as well as strategic planning.
7. Sales Manager
Average Annual Salary: $124,220 (BLS)
Sales managers lead a company’s sales team. Their exact responsibilities vary depending on the size of the company, but they often are expected to maintain client and vendor relations, analyze customer data to find sales potential and set goals, and work closely with the managers in other departments. Additionally, sales managers are responsible for managing their team, and managerial tasks might include recruiting, hiring, and training new salespeople. They may also be responsible for coaching existing team members on how to improve their performance.
Employment of sales managers is expected to grow at the same rate as all other occupations, 7%. A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for this position, and previous experience working as a sales representative or a purchasing agent is preferred. Some employers may hire a candidate who does not have a college degree if they have a significant amount of time spent in the field, but that could require more than five years of experience.
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8. Corporate Controller
Average Annual Salary: $95,008
Corporate controllers oversee the preparation of financial reports of a company. Data they handle might include income statements, balance sheets, forecasts, and analyze future earnings or expenses. Controllers are also responsible for ensuring the company follows any and all government regulations regarding finances and reporting. Often, they are the head of multiple finance departments for an organization, such as the accounting and auditing departments.
The job outlook for all financial managers is very promising and is projected to increase 19% by 2026. A bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field is the minimum requirement for this job. However, because of the immense responsibility corporate controllers are tasked with, many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. The amount of experience required for this position varies, but several controllers reported having worked previously as accountants, loan officers, and financial analysts.
9. Human Resources Director
Average Annual Salary: $86,819
Human resources directors are the head of all human resources activities within a corporation. In addition to traditional HR duties, such as recruiting, interviewing, and hiring and serving as a link between management and employees, these directors take on a managerial role, as well. They consult with top executives on strategic planning and oversee a team of employees in HR. Companies in all industries have HR departments, so there are many options available for pursuing a career in human resources.
Job growth for human resources directors is estimated to increase 9% by 2026. A bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field and experience in the field are the minimum requirements for this position. Many HR directors reported being promoted from a management role in HR. In some cases, a master’s degree was also expected of job candidates and could sometimes take the place of field experience.
10. Computer and Information Systems Manager
Average Annual Salary: $82,451
Computer and information systems managers, also called IT managers, organize and oversee the tech-related endeavors within a company. Responsible for the technical architecture, they determine IT needs and establish programs to ensure these needs are fulfilled. They also lead and monitor the work of other IT staff. These managers can work in a variety of fields that rely on technology.
Computer and information systems managers have an estimated growth rate of 12% through 2026, significantly higher than the national average. Nearly all employers require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field and some amount of experience, usually around five years. Though a master’s degree isn’t required, some employers may expect it.
|Job Title||Median Salary||Career Outlook|
|Chief Marketing Officer||$169,577||8%|
|Chief Executive Officer||$159,391||8%|
|Chief Human Resources Officer||$153,070||8%|
|Vice President of Marketing||$144,208||10%|
|Vice President of Finance||$134,675||19%|
|Chief Financial Officer||$130,266||8%|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$82,451||12%|
While this is not an exhaustive list of business careers, it covers some of the highest paying positions in the business world. Knowing the highest paying jobs in business will help you make an informed decision on which degree you should pursue. For the positions listed, a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward a lucrative and exciting career in business, and earning an advanced degree, such as an MBA, can fast-track your promotion process.