What You Don't Know About Your CEO

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CEO How accurate is this description of your company's CEO: He's 55 years old, went to an Ivy League School or the University of Wisconsin for an undergraduate degree and majored in engineering. Oh and of course, he's a white male.

According to research done by SpencerStuart, those are some of the most common traits of CEOs of S&P 500 companies. They took a look at the age, education and work experience of the chief executive officers of some of the biggest U.S. corporations. Apparently, the traditional image of the "man" at the top of the corporate ladder still holds true.

The survey revealed that this year, there were no CEOs among the group studied who were younger than 40. But the average age is declining. In 1980, the majority (51 percent) of Fortune 100 CEOs were ages 60-69. Today, the majority (68 percent) fall into the 50-59 age range.

Only a very small percentage of CEOs made it to the top without at least an undergraduate degree. The percentage of S&P 500 CEOs who earned an undergraduate degree has remained steady at 97 percent for the past three years. For some reason, among the CEOs reviewed, the most popular schools for those degrees seem to be Harvard, the University of Wisconsin, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Texas and Yale.

Engineering degrees are the most common among CEOs -- in sectors ranging from manufacturing to publishing to utilities. The second most common degree is economics, followed by liberal arts, business administration and finance.

When it comes to graduate degrees, 41 percent of S&P CEOs have them, and that's been consistently increasing over the years. The number of those with military experience, however, is decreasing, and is currently only at about 8 percent.

So if you're aiming for the rock star position in a company, you can clearly see who would be the most likely candidate. But don't despair if you don't fall into all or any of these categories. The numbers change from year to year, and you could well be the one who helps change them. No matter what, however, getting that university degree seems essential.

Next: Companies Hiring This Week


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