COO vs CEO: Differences in Authority, Salary, Responsibilities, and more

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If you aspire to be one of a company’s C-Level executives, you must be knowledgeable about the positions they hold. Under the C-Level executives sit the highest rank in a company, the CEO and COO. We’re all familiar with the CEO, but we don’t hear a lot about COOs. This is primarily because not every organization needs a COO. However, there are certain cases when they need one. But what exactly do these positions do? And how are they different?

What are a CEO and COO?

A CEO, otherwise known as Chief Executive Officer, is the highest position in a company or organization. We’re all aware of the fact that higher positions come with greater responsibilities. This is why companies have such high standards in appointing their CEO. These people will be leading the whole organization and have the final say in decisions that will have a significant impact on the company’s direction and growth.

A COO, on the other hand, is the second position after the CEO. While this person also holds significant responsibilities, they always need to report to the CEO. The CEO and the COO will be sharing many responsibilities and work hand-in-hand towards the betterment of the company.

How do CEO and COO differ?

Many people are still confused about the differences between the CEO and COO. To help you understand further what their key differences are, read below.

coo vs ceo - differences

1. Responsibilities

To simplify the difference between their responsibilities, the CEO is responsible for managing the overall state of the company, with responsibilities ranging from, such as but not limited to, making decisions for the company, setting the company’s direction, developing strategies, managing the company’s budget, and representing the company to other companies. The COO, on the other hand, focuses on the company’s daily operations, such as managing internal procedures, monitoring the company’s financial health, devising business strategies, reporting essential matters to the CEO, and also serves as the CEO’s advisor.

CEOs also focus on the company’s external connections and maintain a good relationship between the company and its investors and shareholders. In contrast, COOs concentrate more on the company’s employees to ensure that the operations are going smoothly. The CEO’s duty is the overall company’s management and daily functions, while the COO’s duty is the management of the company’s operations and administrative functions.

2. Authority and Accountability

No matter the responsibilities they hold, the COO is always answerable to the CEO. The CEO, holding the highest position in the company, has the final say in the company’s decisions. However, it’s one of the COO’s responsibilities to guide the CEO and offer advice or insights to help create better decisions for the company. In terms of accountability, given that the CEO is in charge of the company’s management, whether the company succeeds or fails will fall upon the hands of the CEO. On the other hand, the performance of the company’s operations falls in the hands of the COO.

3. Salary

Since the CEO holds the heavier responsibility of managing the entire company, a bigger salary is given to them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual salary of a CEO amounts to $14 million, while the annual average wage of a COO amounts to $308,253.

4. Educational Attainment

Both the CEO and COO position requires only one educational requirement: a bachelor’s degree. However, some companies might require a degree that is directly related to the nature of the job or a master’s degree.

5. Job Necessity

People aren’t actually that familiar with a COO since not all companies have one. In most companies, the CEO is capable of doing both the responsibilities of CEO and COO. Companies only appoint a COO when the business has grown so big that the CEO already needs help in managing it.


We hope this article was able to explain the critical differences between the two positions. Despite the fact that the CEO position is higher than the COO doesn’t mean that the other is more important and the other is less. Both jobs will significantly impact the future of a company. Thus, both must perform great in their job. So if your business is searching for an executive online, you have proper knowledge of the distinct difference between these two positions.