Chief Operating Officer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

Chief Operating Officers, or Operations Directors, are in charge of guiding a company’s workflow strategy and organization of all essential business processes. Their duties include reviewing the efficiency of current business functions, planning changes and updates to day-to-day operations and collaborating with other executive staff to set and meet business objectives.

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Chief Operating Officer duties and responsibilities

Chief Operating Officers are responsible for overseeing a company’s daily functions. Some of their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Supervising all daily operations of the company, including IT, marketing and sales
  • Preparing and presenting reports to the Chief Executive Officer
  • Working closely with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer on all matters related to the business
  • Performing employee reviews and developing corrective action plans if needed
  • Developing and implementing strategies, procedures and business plans needed to enhance company growth
  • Working with the executive team to set company performance goals
  • Cultivating and providing opportunities for rising talent within the organization
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What does a Chief Operating Officer do?

Chief Operating Officers work at large companies as part of their executive structure to ensure that the entire business structure can collaborate effectively and meet goals according to an overarching timeline and budget.  They oversee the administrative roles in an organization, managing communications channels, supply chain steps and the overall taxonomy of a company. Chief Operating Officers delegate production, marketing and sales tasks to core teams while maintaining relationships with business partners, vendors and distributors. Their role is to keep a business’s key functions running smoothly by planning out the implementation of each smaller task that contributes to a company’s purpose.

Chief Operating Officer skills and qualifications

A Chief Operating Officer must have advanced leadership and communication skills to do their job effectively. Some of their other necessary skills and qualifications include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration or another relevant field
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Solid understanding of staff management, industry specifics and business strategies
  • Excellent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Superior management and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to remain calm and focused in stressful situations

Chief Operating Officer salary expectations

The average salary for Chief Operating Officers is $120,047 per year. This salary may vary depending on the size of the company and the candidate’s level of experience and educational background.

Chief Operating Officer education and training requirements

Chief Operating Officers must have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another relevant field, and they may also be required to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Some companies require Chief Operating Officers to have additional certifications relevant to their industry, such as a certified public accountant (CPA) certification. Chief Operating Officers should have a working knowledge of all areas related to company growth, including marketing, finance, sales, information technology and human resources.

Chief Operating Officer experience requirements

Chief Operating Officers are expected to have extensive managerial experience, though the amount of experience may vary depending on the particular company and industry. Most companies want their Chief Operating Officers to have a minimum of 5 years of managerial experience, though preferably more. Many companies look for candidates who have experience in a variety of departments in addition to extensive experience in their specific industry.

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Frequently asked questions about Chief Operating Officers


What is the difference between a CEO and a COO?

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are both top employees on a company’s executive team, but they have two different focuses. CEOs are usually the first in command at a company and may hold the title of President, while COOs are the second-highest ranking official and might also be known as the Executive Vice President of a company. CEOs are responsible for forming the overall vision and direction of a company while COOs are in charge of implementing their plans and handling all of the logistics related to new initiatives planned by the CEO.


What are the traits of a good Chief Operating Officer?

Good Chief Operating Officers need to have a high level of business acumen, organization skills and interpersonal ability because they are responsible for implementing complex systems and managing business relationships with company partners and staff. They are highly logical and think ideas through before acting, considering all possible outcomes and areas for improvement. Successful Chief Operating Officers are decisive and confident enough to follow through on a strategic vision, solve problems and adapt to outside factors that influence their plans. They enjoy solving puzzles and looking for better, cheaper, faster ways to do basic tasks.


Do Chief Operating Officers have different responsibilities in different industries?

Chief Operating Officers may have some different tasks from one industry to the next, but overall they have the same role. For example, a Chief Operating Officer that works at a transportation and travel company would need to build different business infrastructure than the COO of a tutoring business, but both professionals would be in charge of overseeing their respective company’s daily tasks. A COO’s field can also impact the kinds of industry contacts and business relationships they need to maintain. 

The Chief Operating Officer position can change based on the size of the company, with smaller businesses requiring their COO to be more hands-on and larger corporations needing their COO to deal primarily with strategic planning.


What are the daily duties of a Chief Operating Officer?

Chief Operating Officers spend time in an office environment meeting with business partners and go out in the field to visit storefronts, manufacturing plants and other key places of business to audit the efficiency of their current business structure and help solve problems. They review reports from other administration and operations staff, consult with other executives and communicate with their team about new business initiatives.

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