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Chief Executives

Employed in U.S.: 400,400
Change expected in next decade: -1 percent
Average salary: $158,560

So, you want to be the top dog? Well, take a number. Competition for chief executive positions has always been tough and the fact that the number of CEOs is expected to decline in the next decade only ratchets up the competition.

The economy played a role here as well—when a company goes out of business or merges with another company, the CEO is often shown the door.

The good news is, there will always be a need for strong leaders to navigate a company through the best and worst of times.

Not surprisingly, the prospects are best in the fast-growing health-care industry, while they are worst in manufacturing. Key skills include the ability to improve efficiency and keep costs low, navigate through tough times, and adapt quickly to changing technology and other trends. Knowing several languages and having an understanding of global economics is a plus.

Photo: A J James | Digital Vision