How To Become A Chief Operations Officer COO Of A Business

Although everyone loves the idea of becoming a CEO, very few are willing to put in the work. Unlike CEO, the COO term is not commonly used yet in a top executive position.

Getting a business running every day is a herculean task. Well, if you still want to get into the business of running a whole enterprise, a less challenging role exists for you to embrace.

This article compiles what it takes and how to become a COO.

The COO role is quite often very misunderstood and undervalued. People don’t quite understand what a COO does and how he or she fits in. COO refers to Chief Operating Officer or Chief Operations Officer while CEO refers to Chief Executive Officer.

It should be noted that a Chief Executive Officer ranks first, then a Chief Operating Officer ranks second. A Chief Operating Officer is answerable to the chief executive officer. A COO runs the administrative and operations activity of the organization. 

If you are curious to know about a Chief Operating Officer, you are at the right place. The table of contents below highlights all you need to know about the COO.

Who is a Chief Operating Officer?

A Chief Operating Officer is one of the top-ranking executive positions in an organization. 

According to Investopedia, the Chief Operating Officer is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational function of a business. The Chief Operating Officer is considered to be the second-in-command. 

In some organizations, the Chief Operating Officer is known by other terms, such as “Executive Vice President  or Operations Director.”

What Does A Chief Operating Officer Do?

The role of the Chief Operating Officer differs from company to company and from industry to industry. However, The major role of the COO is the overall supervisory and management responsibility for all of the firms’ operations. 

Some other roles and responsibilities of a Chief Operating Officer are listed below:

  • Develop and execute business plans and ensure they are implemented.
  • Design operations strategies and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the firm’s services or products.
  • Ensure proper management of resources for the most productive use with the aim of creating maximum value to the firm stakeholders
  • Provide leadership management and vision to help grow the company
  • Establish policies and growth initiatives that promote company vision.
  • Supervising staff and handling personnel issues to ensure employees are carrying out the vision of the company.

Types Of Chief Operating Officer

There are different types of Chief Operating Officer that arise from the different motives for creating the position. 

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There are seven basic reasons why companies hire a Chief Operating Officer and these seven reasons are not mutually exclusive as to roles COOs can play vis-a-vis their CEOs.

#1. The Executor

The major role of a Chief Operating Officer is to execute strategies developed by the too management team. The COO takes responsibility for delivering results on a daily, quarterly, and yearly basis. 

#2. Change Agent

Companies hire a COO to lead specific strategic imperatives such as a major organizational change or a planned rapid expansion.

#3. The Mentor

The mentor-kind of COO is charged with the responsibility to mentor a young or inexperienced CEO sometimes a founder.

A rapidly growing startup may seek an experienced veteran with wisdom, seasoning, and a rich network who can develop both the CEO and the emerging business.

#4. The Other Half

The company may bring in a COO to complement the CEO’s experience, style, and knowledge base.

#5. The Partner

Some executives are more effective when paired.  Sometimes the CEO works best with a partner and when there is a partnership it leads to what’s being called the “two in the box” model and it’s termed Co-leadership.

#6. The Heir Apparent

In many cases, the primary reason to establish a COO position is to groom a company’s CEO elect. The COO, in this case, teaches and allows the heir apparent to learn the whole company;  its business, environment, and people.


Some companies offer the job of COO as a promotion to an executive considered too valuable to lose particularly to a competitor.


To be considered for a COO position, one needs a combination of education,  significant years of experience, and certain soft skills.

#1. Education

The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field, but many organizations prefer to hire someone with an MBA.

#2. Experience

A COO essentially needs to have extensive experience within the industry in which the firm operates. The individual who has often worked their way up through the company ranks for at least 15 years, with a minimum of five of those years spent in a senior management role.

Aside from educational requirements and years of experience, there are soft skills organizations look out for in COO candidates.

#3. Leadership

A COO must have excellent business acumen and leadership skills; the ability to effectively manage, lead and supervise a multidisciplinary team.

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#4. Strategy

They must be strategic at thinking, be open to new perspectives, and have better ways to do things.

#5. Decision-making Skills

 A  COO must have superior decision-making skills in order to succeed.

#6. Result-oriented

A COO must be completion- and results-oriented.

#7. Good Financial Management

The COO must have a track record of good and successful financial management.

#8. Excellent Communication Skills 

The COO must possess executive-level communication and influencing skills with the ability to resolve issues, build consensus and diverse internal/external stakeholders, and have proven skills in negotiating and mediating conflict.

How Much Does a COO Make?

According to payscale, an entry-level Chief Operating Officer (COO) with less than 1-year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $93,130 based on 80 salaries. 

An early career Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $101,343 based on 972 salaries. 

A mid-career Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $123,056 based on 1,052 salaries. 

An experienced Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $149,150 based on 2,471 salaries. In their late career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of $172,011.

How to Become a COO

There are many paths to becoming a COO. Some people skyrocket to the COO role because they join a small startup or co-found their own company. Others take years or decades to become a COO by slowly climbing the corporate ladder inside one or several large organizations.

However, here is a piece of advice that can help you rise to the ranks of COO: While you’re building your career, you should always expand your network. Most successful business professionals got to where they are not only because of their hard work but also because of their relationships.

Are you eager to become a COO, you should take note of the following;

#1. Garner Professional Skills

Your ability to rise to a top executive position broadly hinges on who you know. That’s especially true with positions like the COO, where you’ll be chosen based on how well your personality and specific skills complement the CEO’s.

So, if you really want to become a COO, the best strategy is to do well at your company, but also build your external network with individuals who are climbing the ranks at other companies, executive coaches, and recruiters.”


#2. Gain Experience

A chief operating officer job requires many years of experience in various areas of a company’s operations. On your path toward the COO position, pursue management experience soon after you complete your degree and start work in an entry-level position.

Consider your time in mid-level positions an opportunity to learn about business operations. Also, look for jobs in companies that allow you to move around and gain experience in different departments, or companies that have a management-training track that helps you gain more exposure to all of the company’s various operations.

#3.Build Your Resume

If you believe you have the work experience and educational background for the position, read COO job descriptions and highlight relevant work experience that can qualify you.

Focusing your resume in this way can also reveal other areas in which you may need to broaden your experience before applying for COO jobs.

#4. Apply for COO Positions

Look at job resources sites online for available positions. You may have better chances by gaining COO experience at smaller companies before applying to larger, more established organizations. 

Review the requirements for the roles in your intended field, and craft your resume to align with prospective employers’ expectations. Write a persuasive cover letter that further highlights your qualifications and demonstrates your enthusiasm for working with a specific company to secure an interview.


A COO is second in the chain of command in an organization and also in charge of operations in an organization. Getting into this position involves determination and patience as it requires years of experience, building your resume with necessary responsibilities, and applying for COO position.

Kindly comment on your thoughts on the importance of this position in an organization.



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