How Much Does a CTO Make?

For highly qualified IT managers and computer systems engineers, jobs in executive leadership are a great way to maximize earning potential and enter into a seriously effective role that takes on every aspect of a company’s technology. The position, known as a Chief Technology Officer or CTO, allows professionals to enact security policies, make key decisions regarding cloud storage and big data, and implement other major changes to the ways that a company interacts with the online world and creates a more efficient usage scenario for emerging high-tech tools.

The job is not without its struggles, of course: Many CTOs work extraordinary hours, take on an outsized list of responsibilities, and fill in where new hires lack the skills or training necessary to implement new systems. With that said, the larger list of responsibilities and the longer working hours generally pay off for those willing to take them on. Virtually every CTO earns at least a six-figure salary for doing these and numerous other tasks.

Average Pay is Excellent, Even for Smaller Companies and New CTOs

Though executive positions are the highest-ranking in any organization, they’re still subject to the same considerations that any other job would be. That means new CTOs typically earn less than their more seasoned counterparts, though pay raises come easily when the job is performed well. The bottom 10 percent of CTOs across the country earn a healthy annual salary of about $130,000 per year according to a survey conducted at Salary.com. That’s actually better than a similar assessment done by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics that took all executive positions into account. According to the BLS, the average executive, technology-related or otherwise, earns about $101,000 per year.

The median wage among all CTOs nationwide is quite a bit higher than the $130,000 starting wage for newly promoted executive officers. Salary.com estimates that the median wage approaches $200,000 per year, with the average CTO earning just over $194,000 on an annual basis. For those who last in this role for a longer period of time, or those who are more seasoned at the time of their promotion, Salary.com estimates the top 10 percent of earners take home about $292,000 per year.

Don’t Forget Stocks, Bonuses, and Other Methods of Compensation

While the annual take-home salary of a CTO is certainly robust, it’s often not the only way that these professionals are compensated for their skills and services. Most people in executive positions are also offered a healthy package of company stocks that can take their estimated net worth well into the seven-figure range. For larger corporations, such a stock offering might escalate into the tens of millions of dollars.

In addition to stock offerings, most companies pair their executive positions with annual performance bonuses based on the company’s market capitalization and earnings. Other bonuses include generous paid leave, fully funded insurance plans, company cars, and a wide range of high-end benefits exclusive to those in an executive role.

Excellent Opportunities for Those with High-Tech Skills and Leadership Leanings

For those who blend their computer science background with a tendency toward leadership and easy collaboration, the role of a CTO is a great fit. It requires a great deal of work, however, both before and during the promotion. That hard work pays off in more ways than one, with CTOs ranking among the highest earners in any profession nationwide.

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