Vice presidents are executive-level employees who have responsibility for a major aspect of the business they work for. They commonly oversee a specific department or division, but they also may be responsible for a large geographic territory, a specific client base, or any other part of the company that is deemed important. Vice presidents are typically individuals who have risen up through the ranks and have been given a high-level position to reward their loyalty and hard work.
Vice presidents commonly maintain the same duties as senior managers, but they often have more resources available to them and greater autonomy over their work. Because of this, vice presidents frequently report directly to those at the top of the corporate ladder—the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a vice president and what it takes to become one yourself.
Vice President Job Duties
Vice presidents are generally responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Developing business plans to advance the company’s goals
- Managing the executive staff and overseeing their performance, setting a strategic vision to align them with the overall vision of the organization
- Providing leadership to a range of departments to achieve organizational goals
- Recruiting new talent as needed, developing employee skills, managing performance, providing feedback, and terminating employees as necessary
- Accounting and finance, including managing financial records and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements
- Monitoring production metrics, such as sales revenue, costs, and margins to ensure profitability of new products or markets
- Representing the company in meetings, events, or conferences when needed
Vice President Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for vice presidents is $166,656. The top earners make over $258,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work for finance and insurance companies.
The number of vice presidents in the United States is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to companies continuing to reduce their executive staff in an effort to cut costs and reduce management layers. Over time, this trend will result in fewer opportunities for new vice presidents.
Vice President Job Requirements
To become a vice president, you should have a combination of the following:
Education: A master’s degree in business administration is commonly required for this position. Some employers will consider candidates with relevant work experience instead of an advanced degree, but hiring managers typically prefer candidates with higher education.
Training: Most training takes place on-the-job, where new vice presidents learn how to lead teams and take on additional responsibilities. This training could involve shadowing another vice president or spending time working in another division. Many vice presidents earn their position by working their way up through the ranks of a company and gaining hands-on experience.
Certifications: While not required, some employers may prefer candidates who hold certain certifications. There are many credentials available in marketing and management. Some examples include Certified Marketing Executive (CME) and Project Management Professional (PMP)
Vice President Skills
In addition to relevant experience, Vice Presidents (VPs) need the following skills:
Decision-making skills: Decisions made by a VP can have a significant impact on the company. Thus, it is important to have strong decision-making skills. The Vice President must possess the ability to make strategic decisions.
Leadership skills: To achieve success, a Vice President must be able to lead others effectively towards completing goals.
Business Acumen: In order to make sound business decisions, it is necessary for VPs to possess strong business acumen. This also contributes to successful networking, communication, and negotiation.
Interpersonal skills: Excellent interpersonal skills is a must for a VP as he or she must be able to build rapport and communicate clearly with staff members, managers, upper-level executives, clients, and funders.
Financial knowledge: In this senior role, it’s important that candidates have a strong and high-level understanding of financial issues.
Industry knowledge: VPs usually have extensive knowledge of the industry in which they work. This includes understanding market trends and economic factors that affect the industry. It also includes having knowledge about competitors.
Vice President Work Environment
Almost all vice presidents have an office. The physical environment is usually comfortable and modern, with few physical demands. Vice presidents may need to travel extensively for meetings or conferences. They often work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays.
The job can be stressful as they often need to meet tight deadlines, interact with difficult clients or coworkers, and manage complicated projects.
Vice President Career Advancement
Once you’re comfortable in your role as a vice president, you can consider becoming a president or CEO. These positions call for a great deal of leadership skills, as well as business acumen. How you decide to utilize your VP role will influence your chances of moving up the corporate ladder.
If you’re interested in advancing in your career you should start attending networking events and conferences. These will give you the opportunity to meet influential people in your industry and make a good impression.
Vice President Trends
Here are three trends influencing how vice presidents work. Vice presidents will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
The Role of Social Media in Leadership
A recent study by IBM found that employees are increasingly looking to social media networks to find out information about their leaders.
While social media can help leadership teams stay connected with employees, it can also be a powerful tool for sharing ideas and communicating company values—especially when used strategically.
The most effective leaders not only use social media to communicate with employees, but also encourage them to use these platforms so that the conversation is two-way and everyone is kept up-to-date on industry trends.
Increased Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important for VPs as it becomes increasingly difficult to make tough decisions.
According to research, emotional intelligence can be used to predict leadership potential, with emotional intelligence having a stronger correlation with effective leadership than IQ scores. As emotional intelligence continues to rise in importance for executives, businesses are looking to hire candidates who can communicate effectively and take decisive action even when making difficult decisions.
Increased Importance of Data Analysis
Although many people view the VP role as a high-level, less hands on position, an increased emphasis on metrics and data analysis means that today’s VPs must be willing to do more than just supervise tasks.
They also need to be adept at analyzing data and implementing changes based on the results of their findings. For example, VPs can leverage detailed data about how customers use products or services in order to identify potential problems and implement strategies that will improve their experience with these items in the future.
How to Become a Vice President
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re interested in becoming a vice president, it’s important to understand the responsibilities that come with this role. Vice presidents typically oversee and direct other employees and work closely with senior management to ensure goals are met.
Depending on your field of interest, you may need additional education or training to advance to the VP level. For example, if you want to become a sales VP, you should focus on sales-related activities such as cold calling, prospecting, and closing deals. Similarly, if you’re looking to become an IT VP, consider taking courses in coding and programming; these skills will be useful when managing large teams of programmers.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for vice presidents should demonstrate a high level of skill and experience. You should also include your leadership qualities, strategic thinking ability, and ability to manage other people.
In addition to listing your work history, you should include any awards, recognitions, or other achievements that show you are a strong leader. In your work history section, be sure to provide enough detail so the hiring manager can get a sense of how you performed in your past roles.
3. Applying for Jobs
The best place to start your search for a VP position is at your company. Pause for a moment and think about the people you’ve worked with in the past, or who work there currently. Are there any open VP positions in your company? Is there someone who has been there for many years that could be retiring soon? If nothing seems to be coming up internally, reach out to other companies that are in competition with yours; sometimes they will let you know if they are thinking of replacing their current VP.
4. Ace the Interview
Be sure to research the company so you are familiar with its products and services. This will help you appear knowledgeable about the company in your interview responses. If there is a specific project that you can bring up in your interview that shows how you have contributed to the company in the past, do so.
Make sure to showcase your leadership qualities and highlight your interest in growing within the organization in the future. Be mindful of your demeanor throughout the interview. Smile, maintain eye contact with your interviewer and speak with an enthusiastic, calm, confident tone of voice.