Your Career and COO jobs: Chief Operating Officer positions open across sectors

No matter the sector or industry, there is an ongoing need for talented Chief Operating Officers in the United States. At any given time it is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 COO jobs are open or in transition at small- and mid-size Inc. 5000 and large Fortune 500 companies.

Ana Corrales, a Chief Operating Officer at Google (yes, the company is so large that they have multiple COOs), recently discussed the ability to “allow for new possibilities” as a defining characteristic of COOs, which demonstrates her clear business sensibilities in addition to her legendary technical prowess.

“I know it can be intimidating to take a different path than your family or friends might have, especially when it’s a path filled with a lot of people who don’t look like you. But I think you should really go for it and allow yourself to think big,” she tells new hires through a tutorial on the Google platform. “Most people are surprised, including me, by what opportunities come your way if you put in the effort and allow for new possibilities.”

Keep these thoughts in mind as you consider Chief Operating Officer opportunities, especially COO jobs in Healthcare, information technology, financial and insurance industries, among others.

What does a Chief Operating Officer do? What does a COO position entail?

While it varies by industry, a Chief Operating Officer, sometimes referred to as the Chief Operations Officer, in its most general sense manages the day-to-day operations of an organization, instructing, mentoring or holding managers and employees accountable for performance and quality. The Chief Operating Officer, or COO, demonstrates strong management, leadership and communications skills, yet typically works behind the scenes and is not as public-facing as a company’s Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer, who often present to fellow business leaders or institutional investors. The Chief Operating Officer ensures that company benchmarks and deadlines are met and that teams are properly staffed, often working closely with human resource departments to fulfill regulatory compliance.

How do you become a Chief Operating Officer?

Since the COO is a senior-level position, promotion to Chief Operating Officer usually comes after years rising through the ranks within an organization, or through career progression in similar roles at like companies with approximately 15 years of relevant experience. COOs have intimate knowledge of sector- or industry-specific processes and/or regulatory procedures to guarantee specific outcomes. COOs may also have preexisting relationships with Board members or the CEO of the company, so a premium is placed on networking. CEOs want and need a COO they can count on to deliver specific, tangible results. If an outside COO is brought in by an executive recruiter, the recruiter will often have an industry specialty and corresponding relationships and can direct candidates to the best COO jobs. Finally, Chief Operating Officers attain college degrees, minimum Bachelor’s degree, but likely an advanced degree and/or extra certifications.

Which industries or sectors offer Chief Operating Officer jobs?

The short answer is that all industries need high quality Chief Operating Officers and COO jobs are open in all sectors: Manufacturing, Banking and Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Medical and Bioscience, Technology and Information Technology, Agriculture and Mining, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Higher Education, Hospitality, Media and Entertainment, Retail and Wholesale, the public sector/government, and more.

How much do Chief Operating Officers earn? What do COO jobs pay?

Within any industry, and the availability of stock performance bonuses and profit-sharing, compensation varies among Chief Operating Officers. Compensation data collectors Salary reports that the average pay for COOs is about $477,700 annually, with the broadest range falling between $371,500 and $620,000. But of course there are plenty of other well-known examples where pay is much higher, such as when Ray Lane turned around the fortunes of software maker Oracle. In 1999, Lane earned $3.25 million in salary and bonus and 1.125 million shares of Oracle stock, which are now worth many times their initial value. Ms. Corrales’ net worth is reported to be upwards of $40 million.

So, do you have what it takes to follow the COO road for Chief Operating Officer jobs? Of course you do. Sign up for and talk with a recruiter, both are your fastest route to the COO opportunities.

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