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Chief Administrative Officer Duties and Responsibilities

Research what it takes to become a chief administrative officer. Learn about job duties, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is A Chief Administrative Officer?

Chief administrative officers are top-level executives who oversee the administrative operations of an organization, such as accounting. They are in charge of coordinating the activities of financial and accounting staff members, and they make sure that all IRS laws, SEC rules and other government regulations are followed in all financial operations. In some industries, they are also in charge of contract procurements and negotiations. When an internal audit or other operational review is completed, they analyze the report, which they use to develop and implement a strategy for future improvements.

Take a look at the chart below to find out more about this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for entry level
Education Field of Study Business administration
Key Responsibilities Manage hiring and contracting decisions, create budgets, develop policies
Job Growth (2018-2028) -5% (for all chief executives)*
Average Salary (2018) $200,140 for all chief executives)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Duties Might I Have as a Chief Administrative Officer?

As a chief administrative officer (CAO), you would be part of a team of top-level executives in charge of running a business or organization. Top executives devise strategies and formulate policies to ensure that the goals and objectives of their organization are met.

You would typically work with other top-level executives, such as the chief financial officer (CFO) or chief executive officer (CEO). You may take care of budgets, handle hiring and contracting decisions, coordinate activities between departments, develop policies and delegate responsibilities among your subordinates. You'll need excellent communication and solid decision-making skills, as well as strong managerial experience.

While the CEO generally sets the main direction of the organization and functions as the overall leader, you may oversee the day-to-day operations, ensuring policies are in place and approving budgets. You may be in charge of specific departments, such as human resources and sales. The position, as with any other top-level executive post, may be stressful due to the pressure to succeed and comply with the organization's objectives.

Where Would I Work?

Top-level executives can work in both the private and public sectors. You may find positions as a CAO in academic institutions, small businesses, large corporations, non-profit agencies and several types of public-sector institutions, such as municipal boards, state commissions and city-management offices.

To monitor operations and meet with customers, staff and other executives, you might have the opportunity to travel internationally, nationally or regionally, depending on your organization. You might also need to attend meetings and conferences sponsored by various associations that directly impact your business. In large organizations, job transfers between local offices or subsidiaries are common if you're on an executive career track.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

Employment for all chief executives, which can include chief administrative officers, was expected to decline by 5% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November 2019, PayScale.com reported a broad salary range for CAOs overall. The 10th to 90th percentile earned around $64,000-$222,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a chief administrative officer, you could consider taking on a leadership position in government. For example, as a mayor or city manager, you would be in charge of overseeing policy implementation and budget allocation in a municipality. Most of these officials have a bachelor's degree. Another specialized managerial job option is a human resources manager. In this job, you would be responsible for hiring employees and addressing their concerns on issues such as benefits and employer relations. An entry-level position requires a bachelor's degree.