It’s good to be the boss – especially for managers in the nation’s highest-paid positions. Not only do you have the prestige of supervising lower-level employees and the other perks that accompany senior-level status, but you also have serious earning potential. In the 10 most profitable management careers, six-figure median salaries are the norm. In fact, all of the 10 highest-paying management jobs featured on our list below report median salaries of $120,000 or above as of 2023.
What Are the Highest Paying Manager Jobs?
The best management jobs – that is, the ones that pay the highest average salaries – aren’t easy, either to attain or to do. Most of the highest-paid manager jobs require a combination of formal education and years of experience. Holding the highest-paying business management positions can be stressful at times. You may be responsible for supervising personnel, guiding the direction of an organization or managing complex projects.
Average salary for manager positions depends on the level of role they hold, the specific duties they perform and the company and industry for which managers work. By median salary, the top-paying management jobs include the following.
1. Chief Executive Officer
If you really want to be the boss – not just a boss – then top executive is the career for you. These management professionals are personally in charge of making sure an organization achieves its goals.
What a Top Executive Does
As the name suggests, top executives are the managers at the top of a company. Given their senior-level status and big responsibilities, it’s no surprise that these top management jobs are also the best-paying manager jobs out there.
A chief executive officer sets goals and procedures for a variety of departments within the company. They decide which personnel will lead those departments. Depending on their position, chief executives may monitor finances and budgets, analyze statements to assess performance and determine ways to decrease costs.
Top executive roles take many forms. In most businesses and organizations, chief executive officers (CEOs) include job titles like the following:
- Vice president
- Executive director
- Chief financial officer (CFO)
- Chief information officer (CIO)
- Chief operating officer (COO)
- Chief sustainability officer
At schools, top executives include superintendents and college presidents. Even cities and states have top executives. The top executives in these environments are known as city managers, county administrators, mayors and governors.
Chief executives are generally more concerned with big-picture strategy than day-to-day operations. In other top executive jobs, like operations manager and general manager, however, the manager would spend much of their time handling daily operations and administrative duties. General and operations managers handle many different administration and management duties.
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How Much a Top Executive Makes
Which top executive role you work in can make a huge difference in your pay rate. The median annual salary the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported for chief executive officers as of 2022 was $189,520 per year. The highest-paid 10% of chief executives in America make more than $239,200.
The manufacturing industry is the major employment industry that pays chief executives the most. The median annual salary for chief executives in this industry was $231,640 as of 2022. Chief executives in the professional, scientific and technical services industry also made a median wage above $200,000.
General and operations managers, the other top executives, made considerably less than their C-suite counterparts. Still, the $98,100 median annual salary far outstrips the median wage for all occupations as of 2022. The professional, scientific and technical services industry paid the best for these roles, with a median salary of $131,970.
Becoming a Top Executive
There’s no quick or easy route to a top executive role. A given company or organization only needs so many top executives, and the competition for these high-paying roles is fierce. You are likely to need some combination of education, experience and an exceptional reputation if you want to become a chief executive.
Many top executives start from the bottom and gradually advance through the ranks within their organization. Others develop their management skills and cultivate enough experience to get hired from outside the organization. Either way, you need to work hard and prove that you’re the best at what you do to cultivate the kind of reputation that gets you considered for chief executive positions.
In addition to gaining experience in management roles, candidates for top executive positions must develop excellent communication skills and leadership abilities. They need to become proficient – and confident – in making decisions and solving problems.
2. Computer and Information Systems Manager
If you want to work in technology, a career as a computer and information systems manager will allow you to make great money in a field you love. This is one of the best manager jobs in the tech field.
What a Computer and Information Systems Manager Does
Nearly all businesses and organizations today rely on computers to handle some aspect of their work. Computer and information systems managers play a crucial role in an organization’s computer systems.
Computer and information systems managers are sometimes called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers. These professionals are responsible for figuring out what computer and IT professionals the organization needs on staff. They oversee the work of other IT professionals. Computer and information systems managers also manage the organization’s computer systems and technology. When its time to put in place new systems and technologies, computer and information systems managers are responsible for tasks like the following:
- Security measures
The responsibilities of specific computer and information systems managers depend on their exact job titles, in addition to other factors.
For example, C-suite computer and information systems managers include chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs). A chief information officer will devote most of their time to devising the organization’s technology strategy. A chief technology officer will focus more on what new technology can do for the organization.
At a somewhat less senior-level of management are IT directors. IT directors lead IT departments. They often serve as the immediate supervisors for the organization’s IT personnel. IT security managers, on the other hand, focus more on the organization’s information security policies and safety measures designed to thwart a security threat.
How Much a Computer and Information Systems Manager Makes
Computer and information systems managers earned a median salary of $164,070 as of 2022, according to the BLS. The best-paid 10% of the IT manager field earned more than $239,200. All of the top five industries of employment report median annual salaries between $165,000 and $175,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information industry paid the best, with a median annual salary of $173,540.
Becoming a Computer and Information Systems Manager
If you want to become a computer and information systems manager, you will need a strong background in computer technology. Usually, this means a formal college degree, at least at the undergraduate level. Prospective IT managers often pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. This education provides you with the technical skills for the role, but you need more than just tech knowledge to be a good manager. Gaining some knowledge of the business world is valuable if you want to become an expert in business applications of technology. Stacking a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree on top of your computer science undergraduate degree can help prove your capabilities.
3. Architectural and Engineering Manager
Another of the highest-paying management jobs is architectural and engineering manager. A lot of work goes into engineering and architecture projects, and someone has to oversee this work and supervise those who undertake it. That someone is an architectural or engineering manager.
What an Architectural and Engineering Manager Does
On any architectural or engineering project, there are various team members with different skill sets to hire and oversee. There are schedules to coordinate and budgets to set and follow. Without doing this work, projects won’t get done correctly, on time or within budget. Companies in industries like manufacturing and architectural and engineering services rely on experienced professionals to handle these big responsibilities.
As supervisors, architectural and engineering managers naturally oversee their employees, checking not only their work but also their methods. They also handle tasks like determining what materials, equipment and employees they need for a project and coordinating the work of various teams. However, these professionals aren’t completely removed from their engineering and architectural roots. Often, they create the overall concepts and designs for a product or project. They may lead the research and development teams whose findings inform the final design concepts. When problems arise, architectural and engineering managers need to solve them.
How Much an Architectural and Engineering Manager Makes
The median salary the BLS reported for architectural and engineering managers in 2022 was $159,920. The highest-paid 10% of the architectural and engineering manager profession made more than $221,550 per year. The scientific research and development services industry paid architectural and engineering managers the best, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a median annual salary of $175,670. The management of companies and enterprises industry wasn’t far behind, with a median salary of $169,140.
Becoming an Architectural and Engineering Manager
Architectural and engineering managers typically begin their careers as either architects or engineers. They may start in entry-level roles, but they don’t stay there long. They learn as much as they can on the job.
With time, these ambitious architects and engineers take on more and more responsibilities. They step up to solve problems, make decisions, lead teams and work on complex projects. In doing so, they get noticed and develop the skills an architectural or engineering manager needs.
To begin, aspiring architectural and engineering managers need the education that will land them their first job as an architect or engineer. This usually means a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a professional degree in architecture. Graduate school is a common path for aspiring managers in these fields. Depending on your skills and areas of interest, you might pursue one of the following graduate degrees:
- Master’s in Engineering Management
- Master’s in Technology Management
- Master of Business Administration
4. Natural Sciences Manager
Don’t think high-paying management jobs only belong in the business world. If science is your calling, you can put your leadership skills to use as a natural sciences manager.
What a Natural Sciences Manager Does
Natural sciences managers oversee employees, research projects and administrative policies in scientific research capacities. They collaborate with their organization’s senior executives to develop research goals. Then they determine how to best achieve those objectives through actionable steps.
Natural sciences managers figure out what personnel, equipment, materials and training are necessary for a particular project. They are also responsible for establishing a budget for that project. They oversee and assist the scientists and technicians in their research team.
Some natural sciences managers spend all or most of their time on administrative and supervisory duties. Their work keeps them largely out of the lab. Other natural sciences managers, known as working managers, conduct research of their own in addition to overseeing other scientists’ work. Laboratory managers focus particularly on managing the supplies needed for research.
Most natural sciences managers spend years working as scientists – chemists, biologists, physicists – before they advance to the highest-paying business management positions. During their careers, they gradually take on more responsibilities, such as overseeing teams of researchers and guiding the direction of research projects and experiments. The more experience scientists have, the greater their opportunities for independence.
How Much a Natural Sciences Manager Makes
The median salary the BLS reported for natural sciences managers as of 2022 was $144,440. The 10% of natural sciences managers with the highest earnings made more than $239,200. The median wages for natural sciences managers by industry varied considerably. Natural sciences managers in research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences earned a median annual salary of $178,830, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. In the manufacturing industry, the median salary was $170,220.
Becoming a Natural Sciences Manager
Natural sciences managers must have a thorough foundation in their field of science. A scientific background is more important than formal management training or education for these high-paying manager jobs. Prospective natural sciences managers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like the following:
- Natural science
A bachelor’s degree may be enough to land some entry-level jobs in natural sciences research. However, even for non-managerial roles, you will likely need to advance your education beyond the undergraduate level. Most natural sciences managers have a master’s degree or a PhD. Considerable experience working in laboratory research is also a requirement for most natural sciences manager roles.
5. Marketing Manager
Companies spend a fortune persuading consumers to buy their products or use their services. Marketing managers, another of the highest paying management jobs, play an important role in how companies use this money effectively to make the most sales possible and bring in revenue.
What a Marketing Manager Does
Marketing managers stay abreast of market trends to determine how much demand there is for a product or service and what markets that product might fit into well. A marketing manager uses data from market research surveys to predict who will purchase the product and what price they will be willing to pay.
Of course, marketing managers also perform a number of other job duties. Often, they are even involved in the product development process. They may lead teams of marketing personnel and oversee collaboration between teams of salespeople and public relations staff. In some roles, they may also handle responsibilities such as:
- Developing marketing plans
- Planning promotions or advertising campaigns
- Setting marketing department budgets
- Choosing advertising opportunities
- Negotiating prices
How Much a Marketing Manager Makes
For marketing managers, the BLS reported a 2022 median annual salary of $140,040. The best-paid 10% of the marketing manager profession made upwards of $239,200. The best paying-industries for marketing managers, management of companies and enterprises and finance and insurance, paid median salaries of $162,870 and $161,040, respectively.
Becoming a Marketing Manager
Marketing managers typically start out in lower-level roles in marketing and work their way up. Most marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like marketing or marketing management.
6. Financial Manager
Another of the highest-paying management jobs is financial manager. Every business and organization needs to be vigilant about its financial health. That’s what makes the work of a financial manager so critical.
What Does a Financial Manager Do?
Financial managers are the professionals who report on current finances, make decisions about investments and establish future goals and strategies. They prepare financial statements, summaries, reports and forecasts of all kinds for many different uses. They also weigh in on the organization’s financial decisions. These decisions include how the company can cut costs, increase profits, expand and acquire other businesses.
Like other types of managers, financial managers oversee lower-level workers. These managers supervise the work of less senior finance employees. Today’s financial managers now spend more of their time analyzing data and using those analyses to advise top-level executives on making financial decisions than they do simply creating reports.
There are several kinds of financial managers:
- Credit managers handle credit and collections.
- Cash managers oversee the organization’s cash flow.
- Risk managers work to minimize the likelihood that the organization will suffer a financial loss.
- Insurance managers decide what kinds of insurance, and how much coverage, is necessary to reduce any such losses.
- Controllers are primarily concerned with generating financial reports, especially special reports for government use.
- Treasurers and finance officers deal with budgets, mergers and investments.
How Much a Financial Manager Makes
The BLS reported a median annual salary of $139,790 for financial managers as of 2022. The highest-paid 10% of financial managers earned more than $239,200. The two top-paying industries, management of companies and enterprises and professional, scientific and technical services, both paid a median wage of more than $164,000 per year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Becoming a Financial Manager
All kinds of financial managers need plenty of experience in the field. Most financial managers have spent at least five years gaining business and finance experience. Before they advance into a management role, they often start in positions like the following:
- Financial analyst
- Loan officer
- Securities sales agent
Financial managers usually start with a bachelor’s degree in a field like finance, accounting, business administration or accounting. At the graduate level, they may pursue a Master’s in Finance degree or a Master of Business Administration.
7. Sales Manager
You need the right personality to excel in another of the highest-paying management jobs, sales manager. If you enjoy the challenge of sales and the opportunity to motivate others, a career as a sales manager will let you earn a six-figure salary with your natural salesperson personality (and the right education and experience, of course).
What a Sales Manager Does
Industries like retail, wholesale trade, manufacturing and finance and insurance depend on sales managers. Sales managers typically oversee their company’s salespeople and sales strategies.
Sales managers don’t just establish goals for product sales. They also develop the strategies and plans to meet those sales goals. When conflicts arise, they resolve customer complaints.
They hire and train their organization’s sales personnel. Their role is to recruit strong candidates to the sales department and help them to perform at their full potential. Sales manager positions also have a quantitative side, with tasks that include:
- Overseeing budgets
- Establishing quotas and sales goals
- Appointing sales representatives to specific territories
- Analyzing sales data
- Predicting sales volumes and profits
How Much a Sales Manager Makes
A median salary of $130,600 is what makes sales managers one of the highest-paid management jobs. The BLS reported that the highest-paid 10% of sales managers made more than $239,200 as of 2022. The highest-paying jobs for sales managers were in the finance and insurance and the professional, scientific and technical services industry, both of which paid median salaries above $160,000.
Becoming a Sales Manager
Most sales managers have a college degree. Fields like accounting, economics, finance, business management, marketing and math are good majors for aspiring sales managers. However, it’s sales experience that really gives candidates for the highest-paying business management positions a competitive edge. Sales managers typically have at least one to five years of experience as sales representatives, purchasing agents or other similar roles.
8. Human Resources Manager
Next on our list of the highest-paying management jobs is HR manager. Workers play an integral part in every industry. Someone needs to recruit, train and communicate with those workers.
What Human Resources Managers Do
Human resources managers are the professionals who oversee an organization’s use of, and interactions with, employees. They interview job candidates and hire the most qualified workers. Human resources managers strategize to make the best possible use of employees’ skills. To do so, they ensure those employees have the training and tools to succeed. They resolve conflicts between workers and handle disciplinary actions when necessary.
Human resources managers also serve as the point of communication between employees and administration. They have input into organization policies and deliver employee services such as benefits and payroll. A human resources manager’s responsibilities include motivating and retaining great employees.
How Much a Human Resource Manager Makes
HR managers earned a median annual salary of $130,000 in 2022, according to the BLS. The top 10% of earners in the HR manager profession made upwards of $224,360. HR managers in the professional, scientific and technical services industry reported the highest median wage, $153,830, followed by those in the management of companies and enterprises industry, where the median salary was $144,640.
Becoming a Human Resource Manager
HR managers often have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration. Graduate-level degrees like an MBA, a Master’s in Human Resources or a Master’s in Labor Relations are also common.
Experience, particularly in leadership roles, is a necessity for high-paying management jobs in a human resources department. Many HR managers begin as human resources or labor relations specialists. Over several years in the field, they develop – and display – the organizational, decision-making and management skills they need to advance to this career.
9. Public Relations Manager
An organization’s image matters – especially when it comes to fundraising for nonprofit organizations. Public relations managers are professionals who strategize how an organization, nonprofit or otherwise, will communicate with members of the public.
What Public Relations Managers Do
Public relations managers oversee the material organizations use to build and improve the public perception of their organization or client. They create content like press releases to get information out to the media and garner media coverage for stories and events.
They act as or designate a spokesperson who will act as the public face and voice of the organization. PR managers work with this spokesperson to provide information and support for media inquiries.
Public relations managers single out the audiences most crucial to the organization’s mission. That may mean choosing a target audience to sell to or potential donors to appeal to for fundraising purposes. They figure out which methods of communication are most likely to be effective at reaching these groups. With this in mind, they plan promotional and advertising campaigns to get their audience’s attention.
Everything a public relations manager does is to improve their organization’s image and public identity. PR managers also supervise the work of other public relations personnel.
In nonprofit organizations, in particular, professionals called fundraising managers play an important part in securing donations, grants and other forms of funding. They plan and implement new strategies to reach their organization’s fundraising objectives. Fundraising managers direct strategies to acquire more funds. They reach out to past donors and new potential donors to ask for contributions. They choose from a variety of fundraising techniques for different fundraising events and campaigns and submit applications for grants from the government and other sources.
How Much a Public Relations Manager Makes
What makes PR manager one of the highest-paying management jobs is its median salary of $129,430. The highest-paid PR managers made more than $239,200 per year as of 2022. Fundraisers make considerably less money, but this can still be a lucrative role. The median annual salary the BLS reported for fundraisers in 2022 was $107,390, and the highest-paid fundraisers made more than $205,230.
Becoming a Public Relations Manager
If your ultimate career goal is to become a public relations and fundraising manager, expect to be in it for the long haul. These professionals usually begin their careers in entry-level public relations specialist or fundraiser positions. A few years of work experience in the field, with increasing responsibilities, may be enough to qualify candidates for lower-level management positions. For roles like public relations director and fundraising director, though, candidates often need a minimum of five to 10 years of relevant work experience.
10. Training and Development Manager
Completing our list of the top 10 highest-paying management jobs is training and development manager. Across all industries, organizations want their workers to be as productive as possible. To perform at their best – and add the most value to their company – employees need the right training and the opportunity to develop their skills.
What Training and Development Managers Do
Training and development managers are the professionals who plan and oversee training opportunities. In addition to supervising lower-level training and development specialists, they determine what training and skills employees need to achieve the company’s goals and create and coordinate those experiences. Part of training and development managers’ job duties is to use resources well. That includes making and sticking to a budget.
Employee training can take many different forms. Training and development managers may be responsible for teaching classes themselves, or they may teach other instructors or managers how to effectively train employees. They acquire training materials from vendors but might also develop their own materials, including online learning materials.
How Much Training and Development Managers Make
Like the other best-paying management jobs, the training and development manager role pays a median wage well over $100,000. The BLS reported the median annual salary for this role as $120,000 as of 2022. The highest earners in this business management profession made more than $210,470 per year.
Becoming a Training and Development Manager
Like other management careers, training and development manager is not an entry-level position. A bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration is helpful, but the degree alone won’t land you this job. You’ll need experience working as a training and development specialist, human resources specialist or teacher. You’ll also need some form of management experience.
Money isn’t everything. You need to consider other factors besides pay when choosing a career. If you have the ambition and leadership skills to manage projects and other workers, though, why not shoot for one of the top 10 highest paying management careers?
Editor’s Note: The source for the employment, education, training and salary information presented in this article is the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While this federal agency is responsible for monitoring the labor market, including the many professions in it, students will find that job requirements, responsibilities and wages differ depending on employer, region and industry. This article is meant as a guide to help students start their own research into potential career paths.
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