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As the Chief of Staff role continues to proliferate across industries and expand within organizational departments, compensation remains difficult to benchmark given the wide range of responsibilities and backgrounds of those in the profession.
Our goal for conducting this annual survey is to better inform current and future Chiefs of Staff and the organizations utilizing the role about their market value. Our research considered the specific factors that heavily impact Chief of Staff compensation, including years of experience, CoS level, company stage/size, gender, location, and more. Previous compensation data is available in our 2019 Report, 2020 Report, and 2021 Report.
What is a Chief of Staff?
At the Chief of Staff Network, we broadly define a Chief of Staff as the primary strategic operator reporting directly to a C-Level Executive. As the role continues to take root in organizations of different sizes, Chiefs of Staff are also emerging as key operators outside the C-suite, reporting at the VP level or below.
The Chief of Staff has a unique relationship with their Principal as the facilitator of the Principal’s key initiatives. The role is rarely an administrative function, but often involves heavy operational, strategic, and cross-functional execution. Chiefs of Staff will take on diverse responsibilities that are dependent on their previous career experiences, leadership capabilities, and the priorities of their Principal. These are also potential factors that impact compensation.
Chiefs of Staff by Level
As noted, Chiefs of Staff come from a variety of professional backgrounds and bring different amounts of experience and skills to the table. The “Chief” in CoS can be deceptive as not every CoS is working at the executive level. Despite sharing the same title, CoS are operating with varying amounts of influence & ownership and therefore at different levels within their companies.
With this in mind, the Chief of Staff Network conducted independent research to establish a Leveling Framework characterizing the dimensions of growth and advancement criteria across five common CoS role archetypes. Survey participants were asked to review the Leveling Framework and self-select into one level. Additionally, we collected number of years of professional experience noting that the two (experience and level) are not always the same.
Chiefs of Cash
$152,633 — Average Base Compensation
Annual Base Salary
Survey respondents were asked to provide base salary as an exact figure, rather than as a range.
Our data shows a relatively normal distribution in base compensation, with 25% of respondents earning between $125k-$150k. Notably, 64% of Chiefs of Staff in our survey are making over $125k. Additionally, the average base salary has increased $10,000 from 2021, when it was $142,533.
Average Salary by CoS Level
Average salaries continue to show increases with changes in self-reported experience levels. Note that there are fewer differences in experience, skills or responsibilities between a Level 1 & Level 2 Chief of Staff vs a Level 3, 4, or 5 Chief of Staff.
Grouping Level 1 & 2 together, we see the lower levels are being squeezed as the average base salary is $94,261, down from $120,210 last year. Thus, we see a 36% average increase in salary at Level 3, a 21.4% average increase from Level 3 to Level 4, and a 4.1% average increase to Level 5.
Avg Salary by Gender
The gender wage gap sadly persists in CoS roles as well, with Females on average earning 91% of their Male counterparts’ salaries, down from 93% last year.
A hopeful sign is the ratio of female to male CoS pay is 8% higher than the US economy’s overall gender pay gap of 83%.
Chiefs of Staff by Industry
The most common industries that respondents worked in are general Technology, FinTech, Enterprise SaaS, and HealthTech.
There are plenty of additional industries which employ Chiefs of Staff, with the “Other” category comprising 12 industries that had 4 or fewer responses.