You have disabled JavaScript on your browser. To use this website, please enable JavaScript. Please follow instructions here.

Salary and Skills for a Level 1 CoS

Salary and Skills for a Level 1 CoS

Salary and Skills for a Level 1 CoS

Salary and Skills for a Level 1 CoS
Read time: 

The Chief of Staff Leveling Framework was created to help Chiefs of Staff understand and communicate their position inside the organization. The framework is based on research with the hundreds of Chiefs of Staff in our community to better understand how the role progresses from IC execution to strategy & people management at the most senior levels.

The framework consists of 5 levels of Chiefs of Staff, each with different dimensions of growth and advancement criteria. The dimensions are: relationship to principal, scope of ownership, influence & impact, communication & collaboration, and leadership & development. The framework also accounts for differences in organization size and stage, as Chiefs of Staff at smaller or larger companies may face different challenges and opportunities.

The framework can be used by Chiefs of Staff to identify their current level, their growth areas, and their development plans. It can also be used by principals to clarify the expectations and responsibilities of their Chiefs of Staff. The framework is available here on the Chief of Staff Network website.

In this article, we’re going to expand on the experience, remit, and skill sets often found in Level 1 Chiefs of Staff.

Level 1, or the Associate level, is the entry-level for Chiefs of Staff. At this level, Chiefs of Staff are responsible for providing administrative support to their Principal including:

  • Managing the Principal's calendar and schedule
  • Preparing presentations and reports
  • Conducting research and analysis
  • Building relationships with stakeholders

At the Associate level, Chiefs of Staff are expected to be highly organized, efficient, and detail-oriented, but are typically not running self-directed projects. Level 1 CoS roles are a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a business and to develop their skills and experience. It is also a great way to build relationships with senior leaders, although you may not be seen as a peer as with more senior CoS roles.

Here are some of the skills and experience that are typically required for a Chief of Staff role at the Associate level:

  • 0-3 years of experience in a related field
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Extreme attention to detail

Even at this junior level, Chiefs of Staff can earn a good salary. Our global research indicates it averages around $88,000, with a 25th percentile wage being $23,000 and the 75th percentile being $135,000. 

There is a very slight correlation between average salary and company size. The lowest CoS salaries occur at 1-200 employees. Above 200 employees in headcount, the salaries are noticeably higher, in the $150-200k range. 

Based on our 2022 CoS salary report, we learned that ~80% of Level 1 CoS are women and that a similar percentage had 0-2 years of total career experience. 

Here’s an indicative Level 1 job description:


  • Coordinate agendas, take notes, serve as timekeeper, and coordinate follow up items for  weekly meetings for all hands, company operations, product, design, and growth teams
  • Manage hiring processes and ensure timely responses and follow up with candidates; liaise with recruiters to develop and manage relationships with our pipeline of candidates
  • Onboard new employees, including HR-related tasks and setting up their software accounts and first meetings to ensure a smooth start
  • Help with bill payment and tax preparations
  • Coordinate appropriate preparation for conferences, podcasts, or other PR-type activities
  • Coordinate company offsites 1x per quarter, including preparation of agendas for sessions, travel logistics, accommodations, dining, and so on
  • “Pick up the loose ends:” this job entails many daily ad-hoc assignments (example: set up our company’s 401k plan) that come up with being a part of the CEO’s team at a growing startup

We are looking for people to demonstrate the following experience and skills:

  • Ideally 1-3 years of experience at an early stage startup in an operations, marketing, or sales
  • Doesn’t need to be asked twice (or sometimes at all) to do something
  • Doesn’t feel work is beneath them: while this is not an EA position, you will send a lot of calendar invites and you should not look down upon doing this— it’s part of what it takes to grow a company
  • Demonstrates that they love and can thrive in an environment that involves a lot of context switching 
  • Strikes the balance of listening to experienced professionals on our team, but also isn’t afraid to speak up 

Common personas that operate at Level 1:

Persona #1: Alex (internal promote, startup)

Alex is 24 and lives in NYC. She went to UVA for undergrad and then moved to NYC to join a Series B SaaS startup as a People Operations Analyst, earning $65k. She demonstrated aptitude for systems integrations, process improvement, & analytics, as well as onboarding new employees. After 1 year in that role, the CEO of the firm tapped her to become his Chief of Staff, earning $88k.

The CoS role is not only new to Alex but also new to her employer. Therefore, there are not a lot of structured internal resources for her to learn how to be an effective CoS. She was even responsible for crafting her own job description. 

She spends most of her time helping create structure around the CEO’s calendar, including setting up executive office hours, blocking focus time, managing meetings, and planning travel. Additionally, she is also dealing with new functions she has no experience in such as Legal and Finance and learning new tools to handle expense management, equity grants, and accounting.

Alex sees the CoS role as a transitory launchpad to catapult herself into management, but she knows she needs to execute exceptionally to do that. Right now, she’s focused on meeting more seasoned CoS to learn how to dodge common pitfalls and understand how to ascend to Level 2. 

Persona #2: Emma (former EA, SMB)

Emma is 26 and lives in Edinburgh. She attended the University of Manchester, where she studied psychology.

Upon graduation, she joined a medium-sized manufacturing business in Edinburgh as the founder’s executive assistant, earning £41k. In that role, she acted as office manager, took meeting minutes, managed leaders’ schedules, and helped with shift scheduling as needed. 

After 4 years as an EA, she was promoted to Chief of Staff, earning £63k. In addition to her existing responsibilities, she is supporting projects in shift scheduling, procurement, and other functions as assigned by her principal. 

As she advances in this role, Emma is looking to prove herself and take on more self-directed projects as well as to hire and manage a new EA on the founder’s behalf.


With all this in mind, you now have an understanding of a Level 1 Chief of Staff role. As a recap, this is the Associate level, focused on optimizing their principal’s time. This role tends to earn average cash compensation of $88,000. Furthermore, our research shows that 80% of Level 1 CoS are women, which is why we’ve shared the Alex and Emma personas. 

If you’re interested in networking with CoS of all different levels, you can sign up for membership here.

Chief of Staff Network

Get weekly CoS goodies!

Join 20,000 other strategy and operations professionals to get the weekly OpsJobs newsletter, sharing the latest job opportunities, exclusive events, and other useful resources.