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Chief of Staff

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred
Average Salary: $42,009 – $153,788 per year
Job Outlook: Fair

A chief of staff is a main aide position serving an important individual or executive in a company, organization, or government post. They serve as managers, advisers, organizers, and gatekeepers for the executive. The United States President and Vice Presidents have chiefs of staff, and so do chief medical officers at healthcare maintenance organizations.

The exact duties of a chief of staff vary depending on the employer, but a chief of staff is typically responsible for selecting and managing the executive’s other staff members, supporting the executive, managing the content and frequency of information destined for the executive, controlling outside access to the executive, advising and making recommendations to the executive, representing the executive in his absence, and working to best protect the executive’s interests.
A chief of staff needs good judgement as well as exceptional communication, negotiation and diplomatic skills.

Education and Training Requirements

There is no standard education pattern for a chief of staff per se, but individuals who are interested in becoming a chief of staff should earn at least a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree. The fields of study undertaken should broadly correspond to the desired employers’ areas of interest, such as medicine, science, or a clinical health field for healthcare organizations, or politics, diplomacy or American history for government positions.

Getting the Job

Chiefs of staff must be well educated and well informed, but employers often consider their personal skills and qualities to be of equal importance, such as organizational, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Candidates for chief of staff positions should have demonstrable supervisory experience. In commercial organizations, chief of staff candidates often directly apply for job vacancies or else use the services of an executive placement firm. In high-profile cases, eligible chiefs of staff will be be sought out by the employer.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment prospects for chiefs of staff are fair. Many important executives and individuals depend on the work and discriminating judgement of their chiefs of staffs; however, there is little growth in the field. New chiefs of staff will be required to replace the chiefs of staff who retire or move on to other ventures, but turnover is not as common as in other fields.

Once you have a chief of staff job, there is no typical career advancement pattern to follow. However, you can try to seek out chief of staff positions with increasingly important executives.

Working Conditions and Environment

Chiefs of staffs work in comfortable offices that are typically in close proximity to the executive’s office. They may sometimes be required to travel for negotiations or to accompany the executive on his official business.

The position may be stressful due to the constant need to juggle the different priorities, schedules, and motives of the people surrounding the executive or who want access to him or her.

Salary and Benefits

A chief of staff might earn between $42,009 and $153,788 per year, while medical, dental, and vision benefits are included. The salary depends on the relative importance of the employer and the level of responsibility entrusted to the chief of staff.

Where to Go for More Information

Protocol and Diplomacy International, Protocol Officers Association
75 Fifth St. NW, Ste. 1200
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
(404) 962-4130

Society for Human Resource Management
1800 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-3440

The United States Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
(703) 693-4723

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesBusiness