Top executives held about 2.7 million jobs in 2002. Employment by detailed occupation was distributed as follows:
- General and operations managers $2,049,000
- Chief executives $553,000
- Legislators $67,000
Top executives are found in every industry, but service-providing industries, including government, employ almost 8out of 10.
Chief executives and legislators in the Federal Government consist of the 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and the President and Vice President. State governors, lieutenant governors, legislators, chief executives, professional managers, and council and commission members of local governments make up the remainder.
Government chief executives and legislators who do not hold full-time, year-round positions often continue to work in the occupation that they held before being elected.
Keen competition is expected for top executive positions, with the prestige and high pay attracting a large number of qualified applicants. Because this is a large occupation, numerous openings will occur each year as executives transfer to other positions, start their own businesses, or retire. However, many executives who leave their jobs transfer to other executive positions, which tend to limit the number of job openings for new entrants.
Experienced managers whose accomplishments reflect strong leadership qualities and the ability to improve the efficiency or competitive position of an organization will have the best opportunities. In an increasingly global economy, experience in international economics, marketing, information systems, and knowledge of several languages also may be beneficial.
Employment of top executives—including chief executives, general and operations managers, and legislators—is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Because top managers are essential to the success of any organization, they should be more immune to automation and corporate restructuring—factors that are expected to adversely affect employment of lower level managers. Projected employment growth of top executives varies by industry, reflecting the projected change in industry employment over the 2002-12 period. For example, employment growth is expected to be faster than average in professional, scientific, and technical services and administrative and support services. However, employment is projected to decline in some manufacturing industries.
Few new governments at any level are likely to be formed, and the number of chief executives and legislators in existing governments rarely changes. However, some increase will occur at the local level as counties, cities, and towns take on professional managers or move from volunteer to paid career executives to deal with population growth, Federal regulations, and long-range planning.
Elections give newcomers the chance to unseat incumbents or to fill vacated positions. The level of competition in elections varies from place to place. There tends to be less competition in small communities that offer part-time positions with low or no salaries and little or no staff, compared with large municipalities with prestigious full-time positions offering high salaries, staff, and greater exposure.
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