Updated August 13, 2015

23 Incredible CEO Statistics

Read more about Business

Being a CEO entails a tremendous amount of responsibility. It also means being the go-to person that others look to when the management or profitability of a company comes under fire. Chief executive officers often find themselves in the public eye and not always for the right reasons.

© Scott Schiller (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

From financial scandals to concerns over a lack of diversity, CEOs, and the corporate world in general, are constantly under scrutiny. In order to paint a more accurate picture of what it's like to be a CEO, CreditDonkey has assembled 23 statistics that shed some light on who they really are.


We were interested in looking at some of the most basic information available on CEOs in America, starting with just how many there are. From there, we moved on to things like age, height and how long they typically spend on the job.

1. How many CEOs are there in the U.S.?
There were approximately 248,760 men and women serving in chief executive positions in the U.S. as of May 2013.

2. What's the average age for a CEO?
While wunderkinds like Mark Zuckerberg take control of their companies at an early age, that's the exception rather than the rule. In 2013, the average age for an incoming CEO was 53, while the average age for those on their way out was 63.

3. How do they measure up in terms of height?
When it comes to leadership roles, height can be a definite advantage. One study found that male CEOs topped out at an average height of 6 feet tall.

4. What's the average tenure for CEOs?
As of 2013, the average time spent on the job for CEOs at Fortune 500 companies was 9.7 years, which represents an increase of nearly 1.5 years over 2012 figures.


Although the corporate world is primarily dominated by men, women and other minorities continue to climb the career ladder, despite the many obstacles they face. To get an idea of how much diversity there is among CEOs, we gathered data on the number of women and minorities who've made it to the top.

5. What percentage of Fortune 100 companies are headed by women?
The Fortune 100 is a select group that includes companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon, and a number of women have successfully joined its ranks. In all, women hold 8% of CEO positions at this level.

6. How many are in charge at Fortune 500 companies?
As of 2014, there were 24 companies on the Fortune 500 list run by a woman. While that's an increase of 20% over 2013 figures, women still only represent 4.8% of all Fortune 500 CEOs.

7. How many make the Fortune 1000 list?
The number of women acting as chief executive officer at the Fortune 1000 level is slightly higher, totaling 27 as of 2014. New York has the highest number of female CEOs with seven, while California comes in second place with six.

8. What about S&P 500 companies?
Among the 500 companies included in the Standard & Poor's market index, just 23 feature a woman at the helm. That accounts for just 4.6% of all S&P 500 CEO positions.

9. How many CEOs belong to a racial or ethnic minority?
African Americans represent 1.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs, with six holding key leadership positions as of 2014. There are also currently ten Asian and nine Latino CEOs in the Fortune 500 rankings.

Related: Women in Business Statistics


Sometimes, all it takes to become the head of a successful company is a great idea. But more often than not, it requires a solid education and years of professional experience. The data we uncovered on the backgrounds of current CEOs showed several common threads.

10. How many CEOs have a bachelor's degree?
While some CEOs like Bill Gates managed to find success without finishing college, the majority have to work hard in school. Around 97% of S&P 500 CEOs have an undergraduate degree, as do 100% of Fortune 100 CEOs.

11. How many have their MBA?
Surprisingly, the majority of CEOs haven't earned an advanced degree in business. Of the top 100 chief executive officers in the U.S., just 29 hold an MBA.

12. What's the common academic major for CEOs?
Another interesting trend among CEOs centers on what they study as undergrads. While 11% of S&P 500 CEOs majored in business administration, 33% opted to study engineering instead.

13. Which schools have the most CEO alumni?
The Ivy League has a reputation for producing the best and brightest grads, and Harvard University leads the way with 65 degrees granted to CEOs. On the west coast, Stanford is number one with 27 degrees.

14. How common is military experience?
A military background is excellent for instilling discipline and a strong work ethic. Six heads of Fortune 100 companies have served in the Army, Navy or Marines.

15. What kind of experience do CEOs typically have?
Running a company means being able to do more than just crunch numbers all day. Among Fortune 100 CEOs, 28% cite finance as their primary area of expertise.


CEOs collect some pretty decent paychecks, and many of them are able to use their wealth to do good in their local communities and on a global level. At the top tier, chief executives are raking in millions of dollars a year in salary, not to mention even more money in bonuses. Some of the numbers we discovered on how much they make are truly jaw-dropping.

16. What's the average salary for a CEO?
CEOs bring in a pretty penny, averaging $11.7 million in pay for 2013. That makes the $35,000 the average worker earns each year look like chump change.

17. Who's the highest paid CEO in America?
Rankings can change from one year to the next but in 2013, the nation's highest paid CEO was Cheniere Energy Inc. head Charif Souki, who pulled in an astonishing $141 million big ones.

18. How much do women CEOs earn compared to men?
While the pay gap between men and women has narrowed, female CEOs still earn about 80% of what their male counterparts receive to do the same job.

19. Which CEO has the highest net worth?
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett continues to reign supreme in terms of personal wealth, with a net worth that's somewhere along the lines of $70 billion. Only former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates can boast a bigger bank account.


To finish up our study, we were curious about some statistics that didn't quite fit into any one box. Specifically, we were interested in how often CEOs change jobs, why they leave, and which states offer the best employment prospects.

20. What's the CEO turnover rate?
CEO turnover actually saw a slight decline in 2013, with 23.8% of executives at Fortune 500 companies being terminated, compared to 24% for the previous year. More than 52% continued to serve as board chairman during their transition period.

21. What's the most common reason for CEO transitions?
Overwhelmingly, retirement is the reason some 70% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies leave their positions. Another 17% voluntarily opt to step down to pursue other opportunities.

22. How many CEOs are active on social media?
Just over 30% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are active on at least one social network. Approximately 28% prefer LinkedIn, while just 8% can be found on Facebook.

23. Which states have the highest CEO employment rates?
California has the highest overall employment for chief executives, with just over 29,300 positions. Illinois comes in second, with nearly 24,000.


While there's the occasional fluke, becoming a CEO isn't something that happens overnight. It's not a low-stress job by any means; being able to maintain the pace and deal with the pressure of running a company is a true test of mental and physical stamina that not everyone is able to pass. For those who do find success, however, the payoff can be substantial.

Sources and References

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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