I compiled a list of C Level titles to help you think about the executive org chart.
Below you’ll find 3 main sections:
- Two pie charts of the top C Level executive titles that candidates search for (one for corporate and one for non-profit, government, healthcare and other less traditional corporate industries).
- A list of C Suite executive titles with a brief description
- A list of some other C Level titles used in non-profit, government and other non-corporate organizations
Note: Want more job title data? Check out our ongoing series called Job Titles: The Definitive Guide
The most common C-level titles are:
- CEO — The Chief Executive Officer (the person who typically runs the company). They usually report to the board of directors which is run by a Chairperson. The CEO and Chairperson are sometimes the same person.
- President — The President title is typically used at A) a small company that has no CEO or B) a larger company at which the President is usually the #2 person in the company.
- COO — The Chief Operations Officer runs the day to day operations. The COO usually spends their time running internal business operations (leaving the CEO or President to be the external face of the company).
- CFO — The Chief Finance Officer is in charge of finances.
General Counsel — The GC is in charge of all legal matters.
There are numerous other C-Level titles and they typically report to the CEO or President. Other common ones include Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Revenue Officer.
CEO vs President?
Some get confused about the use of CEO vs President in a job title. A few tips::
- Most small companies (under 100 employees) have just one: a CEO or President (not both)
- If a CEO and President both exist at a company, the CEO is the more senior of the 2
- Some large companies have both a CEO and President for succession planning purposes (the President is often the next in line for the CEO position)
- Other large companies have multiple business units and have a CEO running the entire organization and a President for each business unit. The business unit might be geographical (e.g. President, Asia Pacific).
CEO vs COO?
Others wonder what the difference is between a CEO and COO. Some tips:
- The CEO is senior to the COO
- CEOs and COOs tend to co-exist at larger companies (e.g. 100+ employees)
- The CEO is often the external voice of a company (speaking at events or to investors; being quoted in press releases, etc.)
- The COO handles the more administrative part of the business (Legal, Finance).
- The COO position is often a precursor to becoming CEO
President vs the COO
How about the President vs the COO: who’s more senior? It depends on the company and how they are organized. Many companies have both the President and the COO at the same level, reporting directly to the CEO. In succession planning it is often the President and COO who are trying to be promoted to CEO.
C-Level Titles Candidates Search for the Most
Here’s a pie chart of the most commonly searched C level job titles in Corporate America. In other words, these are the titles that job seekers type in on Google (e.g. “CIO Jobs”, “CEO Jobs”, etc. I don’t know why CIO beats CEO in job searches. Maybe CEOs are more accustomed to being called by a recruiter (vs. Googling for their jobs). .
C-Level Titles Search for the Most (Gov’t, Healthcare, Academic, Non-Profit)
And here are the C Level job titles job seekers search for outside traditional for-profit organizations:
Disclaimer: The charts above and list below are focused on C Level job titles. I do not list other corporate executive titles such as managing directors or executive VP positions that report to the C Suite.
The 20 Most Common C Level Titles (Corporate)
Below is a list of the 20 most common C Level job titles. The first, the CEO, runs the show. The rest are the most common senior executive titles and usually, but not always, report to the CEO. A General Counsel, for example, sometimes reports to the COO. And the Chief Technology Officer might report the Chief Information Officer.
In each case, I point out the title that candidates search Google for the most. If you’re looking to recruit people for this position, this will help you with search engine optimization (SEO). For example, you want to use CEO (not Chief Executive Officer) and CIO (not Chief Information Officer).
A CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is the highest top-level executive position within a for-profit organization. A CEO is responsible for choosing and executing the strategic direction for the company. They are also typically the public face of the organization when it comes to communication with employees, customers and shareholders. The CEO reports to the board of directors (and the board is run by the chairperson).
# of Google Searches per Month: 1,800
The President is often the highest-ranking position at a small business (one without a CEO) or the #2 position at larger enterprises (usually reporting to the CEO). The president role may also include responsibility for a business unit or other segment of a company (e.g. President of Asia Pacific).
# of Google Searches per Month: 150
A COO, or chief operating officer is responsible for the day to day operations of the company. A COO is usually the second-highest-ranking executive in a company, reporting to the CEO, or #3 if there is a position of president. As important as the CEO is to the outside of the company, the COO is to the inside of the company.
# of Google Searches per Month: 450 (COO); 400 (Chief Operating Officer)
A CFO, also known as a chief financial officer, is responsible for managing the books and records for a company as well as financial reporting and statutory compliance. A CFO ensures business decisions and organizational strategy are made based on reliable financial criteria.
# of Google Searches per Month: 1,100 (CFO) and 250 (Chief Financial Officer)
The chief lawyer of an organization is typically called the General Counsel or Chief Legal Officer (CLO). Their primary focus is on corporate governance, regulations, protecting intellectual property and handling litigation. A General Counsel often uses outside law firms to support their priorities.
# of Google Searches per Month: 1,000
CIO (Chief Information Officer)
The chief information officer (CIO) is responsible for Information Technology (IT) strategy to support an organization’s goals and objectives. A chief information officer usually manages a team of IT specialists responsible for maintaining the day-to-day IT operations.
# of Google Searches per Month: 2,500 (for “CIO”); 350 for “Chief Information Officer”
Note: The acronym CIO is also used to describe the Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Investment Officer (see below).
A CHRO, also called a chief human resources officer, is responsible for designing overseeing all human resources functions. A CHRO leads talent acquisition, employer branding, talent management and, sometimes diversity and culture initiatives.
# of Google Searches per Month: 150 for CHRO; 150 for Chief Human Resource Officer; and 100 for Chief Human Resources Officer
Chief Diversity Officer
A chief diversity officer, or CDO, is a leader in an organization who develops, manages, and supports diversity and inclusion strategies. A chief diversity officer typically leads any diversity and inclusion initiatives. They may also be responsible for overseeing employees complaints about harassment or discrimination and developing culture change.
# of Google Searches per Month: 200
A chief technology officer, commonly called a CTO, manages a company’s technology solutions. A CTO works directly with other executives to implement new technology solutions and solve problems related to technology within an organization. A CTO is a forwarding thinking executive that sets goals and decides how technology factors into key business decisions. The CTO often reports to the CEO in smaller companies or the CIO or COO in larger companies.
# of Google Searches per Month: 600 (CTO); 200 (Chief Technology Officer); Chief Technical Officer (20)
Chief Marketing Officer
A chief marketing officer, also known as a CMO, is responsible for setting marketing goals and objectives for an organization. The primary role of a chief marketing officer is to manage branding, advertising and public relations.
# of Google Searches per Month: 400 (Chief Marketing Officer); 250 (CMO)
Chief Revenue Officer
A chief revenue officer is a newer executive position that holds the responsibility of capitalizing on new revenue opportunities that are created by digital products and services. A chief revenue officer is tasked with connecting the sales, marketing, and customer relationship management teams and processes within an organization to create the ideal customer experience.
# of Google Searches per Month: 300 (CRO); 80 (Chief Revenue Officer)
Chief Compliance Officer
A chief compliance officer, known as a CCO, is responsible for streamlining compliance processes like policy management, risk assessments, regulatory change management, and case investigations. The chief compliance officer oversees compliance in an organization and ensures their company remains in compliance with policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements.
# of Google Searches per Month: 300
Chief Security Officer
A chief security officer, commonly known as a CSO, is the leader of a department that is responsible for information security and corporate security. A chief security officer is tasked with maintaining the physical security and safety of a company’s facilities, assets, and employees.
# of Google Searches per Month: 250 (CSO); 100 (Chief Security Officer)
Chief Investment Officer
A chief investment officer (known as CIO in the investment world) is the executive managing the oversight of investments at a company, organization, or institution. They are typically in charge of managing and allocating a company’s portfolios. The chief investment officer at a mutual fund hedge fund, for example, is in charge of maximizing the fund’s return on portfolio assets.
# of Google Searches per Month: 200
Chief Risk Officer
A chief risk officer is an executive whose role is to identify, analyze, and mitigate internal or external risks for an organization. The chief risk officer makes sure the company complies with government regulations and reviews factors that could damage a company’s investments or business units.
# of Google Searches per Month: 150
Chief Strategy Officer
A chief strategy officer, also known as a CSO, is an executive who creates and implements short term and long term strategic goals and change management activities for a company.
A chief strategy officer might include the following job duties:
- Collaborating with other executives for strategic initiatives
- Communicating organizational goals
- Determining areas of improvement or growth
- Managing marketing research initiatives and teams
- Analyzing competitors and data
- Acquiring new companies (Some Chief Strategy Officers have Corporate Development reporting into them)
# of Google Searches per Month: 100
Chief Innovation Officer
A chief innovation officer is responsible for identifying, developing, and launching new products and services for an organization. A chief innovation officer also builds and grows an organization’s innovation capabilities, both internally and externally, to make the brand more desirable. The chief information officer develops and manages plans to differentiate the company in the market, provide unique value to customers, and help build long-term relationships with customers.
# of Google Searches per Month: 70
Chief Research Officer
A chief research officer is responsible for the overall vision and strategy of research functions within a company. These include data science, data analytics, and survey research. The duties of a chief research officer include:
- Leading research initiatives and making recommendations for marketing solutions
- Improving processes for research methods
- Following innovations in data visualization and market research trends
- Supporting product development teams
- Present internal and external research for their industry
# of Google Searches per Month: 10
The chief engineer position responsible for the engineering department at a company. Chief engineering duties include approving project designs, assigning engineers, and technicians who comply with safety and structural standards during a project.
# of Google Searches per Month: 200 (Chief Engineer); 200 (Chief Engineers);
New, More Modern C-Suite Job Titles
There are many new C-level job titles created over the last 10 years. They include:
- Chief Data Officer & Chief Data Scientist (Visa and Standard Chartered Bank both use the Chief Data Officer (CDO) title.)
- Chief Digital Officer
- Chief Digital Transformation Officer
- Chief Experience Officer (CXO)
- Chief Listening Officer
- Chief Culture Officer
- Chief Happiness Officer (Google had a “Chief Happiness Officer” position (also known as Jolly Good Fellow) filled by Chade-Meng Tan. 72 companies are listed on LinkedIn as having a Chief Happiness Officer).
- Chief Trust Officer or CTRO (shout-out to @CristinaAmpil for sending us this C level job title)
AdAge reports that:
“Chief experience, customer, growth, brand, purpose and other officers are grabbing boardrooms chairs, sometimes replacing or leapfrogging CMOs.”source: AdAge
C Level Job Titles Used in Non-Profit, Health, etc.
The job titles outside of traditional corporations vary.
For example, non-profits typically call their CEO an Executive Director:
An executive director is a job title used more commonly in non profit organizations. The executive director is appointed by the board of directors and is a leader of the organization. An executive director works closely with the board of directors to develop strategic plans, and they are responsible for the culture of their organization. An executive director is also responsible for overseeing budget and marketing efforts for an organization.
# of Google Searches per Month: 1,300
And healthcare facilities often have these 2 key C Level positions:
Chief Medical Officer
A chief medical officer is a licensed physician who oversees clinical operations at a health institution. A chief medical officer is tasked with being the liaison between doctors and healthcare executives. Other duties for the chief medical officer include:
- Hiring, training, and evaluating physicians
- Implementing cost-effective and efficient medical policies
- Creating and enforcing clinical guidelines for smooth delivery of healthcare services
# of Google Searches per Month: 400
Chief Nursing Officer
A chief nursing officer, commonly known as a head nurse or Chief Nurse Executive, director of nursing, or vice president of nursing, oversees hospital operations that impact the quality of nursing. A chief nursing officer is also responsible for budget development, staff management and regulatory compliance. They often report to the COO.
# of Google Searches per Month: 200
The Longer List of C Level Titles
Editor’s Note: There are so many more chief officer titles than the 20 I have above. So, I’m going to start to keep a longer list of titles below in alphabetical order (for quick reference). I wonder how big this list will get!
The long list:
- Chief Academic Officer — head of operations in an academic facility
- Chief Accounting Officer – head of accounting
- Chief Actuary — head of actuary team (typically in the insurance field)
- Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) — head of daily operations; sometimes called COO
- Chief Advocacy Officer — leads advocacy programs such as government relations. This position sometimes advocates for the customer.
- Chief Amazement Officer – company founder or C-level exec. Mike Malloy holds this role at Rock Central.
- Chief Analytics Officer — head of data analysis
- Chief Architect — head of an architectural firm
- Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (Chief AI Officer)– Head of all AI initiatives (e.g. Luyuan Fang holds this role for Change Healthcare)
- Chief Audit Executive — head of auditing activities
- Chief Brand Officer — head of a brand’s image
- Chief Business Development Officer — head of new business opportunities
- Chief Business Officer — head of financial goals and resources
- Chief Clinical Officer – head of operations at a medical clinic
- Chief Clinical Information Officer – head of information at a medical clinic
- Chief Commercial Officer — head of sales, marketing and business development; sometimes called CCO
- Chief Communications Officer — head of communications, PR or public affairs
- Chief Compliance Officer — head of compliance and risk management
- Chief Content Officer — head of content creation
- Chief Corporate Development Officer — leads the company’s inorganic growth, strategic partnerships and business development, intellectual property and corporate operations. Peter Meechan holds this role at CloudBees
- Chief Country Executive — Oversight and accountability for one country’s strategy, operations and business execution. Kirk Robinson holds this position at Ingram Micro.
- Chief Creative Officer — head of design and creative strategy
- Chief Credit Officer — head of budgeting and risk analysis
- Chief Culture Officer — head of organizational culture
- Chief Customer Officer — most often the leader of the customer success team in a SaaS (software as a service) company
- Chief Data Officer (CDO) — in charge of data science, analytics
- Chief Design Officer — head of design aspects (graphic, product, experience, packaging, etc.)
- Chief Development Officer (CDO) — head of construction, development, and licensing
- Chief Digital Officer — head of data and online technology
- Chief Diversity Officer — head of diversity, inclusion, and belonging
- Chief Engineer — head of engineering
- Chief Events Officer — head of events strategy and objectives
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) — head of strategic direction
- Chief Experience Officer — head of product and service experiences
- Chief Finance Officer (CFO) — head of finance
- Chief Futurist — executive who guides the vision and future of a company
- Chief Gaming Officer — head of game development
- Chief Geek — CTO. Robert Sarkes hold this role at GEEK911.
- Chief Growth Officer — head of organizational growth and profitability
- Chief Happiness Officer — head of human resources and employee experience
- Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) — head of talent and human resources
- Chief Impact Officer — the first instance we heard of this was Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, taking on this role at the coaching and mental-health firm BetterUp on March 23, 2021
- Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer or Chief Inclusion Officer — head of diversity and inclusion programs
- Chief Information Officer (CIO) — head of IT
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) — head of cyber security
- Chief Innovation Officer — head of new product development and launch
- Chief Inspiration Officer — head of operations. Jeff Snyder holds this role at Inspira Marketing Group.
- Chief Investment Officer (CIO) — head of company investments
- Chief Joy Officer — Symphony Talent (recruiting agency) hired Debbie Tuel as their Chief Joy Officer to focus on “promoting a more dignified hiring experience for candidates and building technology recruiters love to work in.”
- Chief Knowledge Officer – head of knowledge management practices
- Chief Learning Officer — head of training and learning management
- Chief Lending Officer – head of lending in a financial institution
- Chief Listening Officer — head of internal and external communications
- Chief Marketing Officer — head of marketing
- Chief Medical Officer — head of health organization or facility
- Chief Merchandising Officer — head of buying and selling in retail
- Chief Nursing Officer — head of nurses in a medical facility
- Chief of Security — head of security
- Chief of Surgery — head of surgery in a medical facility
- Chief Operations Officer (COO) – head of day to day operations
- Chief Patent Counsel or Chief Intellectual Property Counsel — head of intellectual property
- Chief Patient Experience Officer — head of patient experience in a medical facility
- Chief Play Officer — CEO at a toy or game company
- Chief People Officer — head of human resources and people management
- Chief People & Culture Officer – head of HR and culture programs
- Chief Privacy Officer — head of privacy law and regulation enforcement
- Chief Probation Officer — head of adult or juvenile probation programs
- Chief Process Officer — head of business processes
- Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) — head of procurement processes
- Chief Product Officer — head of product-related activities
- Chief Quality Officer — head of quality control
- Chief Reputation Officer — head of brand management or public relations
- Chief Research Officer — head of research and development
- Chief Resilience Officer — head of partnerships and vision for a city or government group
- Chief Restructuring Officer — head of restructuring efforts or bankruptcy management
- Chief Revenue Officer — head of new revenue opportunities
- Chief Risk Officer — head of risk management and security
- Chief Scientific Officer — head of scientific research
- Chief Security Officer — head of information and corporate security
- Chief Services Officer — head of processes development
- Chief Solutions Officer — head of development and delivery of business solutions
- Chief Sourcing Officer — head of executive search firm
- Chief Strategy Officer — head of strategic goals and change management (sometimes includes corporate development (M&A))
- Chief Supply Chain Officer — head of supply chain and inventory
- Chief Sustainability Officer — head of environmental programs
- Chief Talent Officer — head of hiring and human resources
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO) — head of technology or engineering
- Chief Transformation Officer — head of change and growth
- Chief Underwriting Officer — head of underwriting and risks in a financial institution
- Chief Visibility Officer — head of performance; popular in retail
- Chief Visionary Officer — head of company vision (music mogul Jay-Z holds this position at Parent Company, a cannabis business).
- Chief Web Officer — head of web presence
- Editor in Chief — head of a newspaper or magazine company
- Executive Director — head of non-profit organizations
- General Counsel/Chief Legal Officer — head of legal
- President — head of small business
Funny C-Level job titles
This list of C-Level job titles is not complete without a list of 20 funny job titles from our blog 100+ Creative & Funny Job Titles [by Department & Position]. Enjoy!
- Chief Cheerleader (CEO)…Mid America Motorworks
- Chief Digital Evangelist…Vala Afshar, Salesforce
- Chief Ego Operator (Any executive)
- Chief Future Officer or Chief Futurist (An executive who guides the vision and future of a company)
- Chief Guru…Ed Popielarski, QTA Machine
- Chief Happiness Officer (Customer Experience)…Google had a “Chief Happiness Officer” position (also known as Jolly Good Fellow) filled by Chade-Meng Tan. 72 companies are listed on LinkedIn as having a Chief Happiness Officer).
- Chief Happiness Slayer (Any executive)
- Chief Heart Officer (HR Executive)…VaynerMedia
- Chief Listener (CEO)
- Chief Ninja (CEO)…Seth Priebsatch, – SCVNGR CEO
- Chief of Idea Stalling (Any executive)
- Chief Pillow Officer (CEO) …Pillowpacker Inflatable Travel Pillows CEO uses this funny job title
- Chief PlayMonster (CEO)…Bob Wann, PlayMonster LLC
- Chief Play Officer (In charge of playing/testing toys)…ToysRus
- Chief Troublemaker (CEO)…Matrix Group
- Dr. No (CFO)
- Head of Out of Touch (Any executive)
- Master of Coin (CFO)…Tesla’s finance chief, Zack Kirkhorn recently took on this new title
- President and TeaEO (CEO)…Honest Tea
- Technoking of Tesla (CEO)…Tesla co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk, recently took on this new title
Which C-Level job titles did I miss?
Please ping me in the comments below if you know of a C-level title that I’ve missed in this article. Thanks!
Why I wrote this?
Ongig’s job description software recommends the best C Level job titles as well as job titles for any department. Please check out Ongig.com to learn more. The title you use for your JD can make a huge difference in how many applicants view and click your job posting.