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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

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Publicly and privately held for-profit corporations confer corporate titles or business titles on company officials as a means of identifying their function in the organization. In addition, many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, partnerships, and sole proprietorships also confer corporate titles. This is a quick reference summary for many high level titles used by American corporations. Other countries often use similar titles for corporate executives.

  • Director or Member of the Board of Directors - a high level official with a fiduciary responsibility of overseeing the operation of a corporation; nominally, Directors, other than the Chairman are usually not considered to be employees of the company per se, although they generally receive compensation, often including benefits; in publicly-held companies, the Board of Directors is normally made up of members (Directors) who are comprised of a mixture of corporate officials who are also management employees of the company (inside directors) and members who are not employed by the company in any capacity (outside directors or non-executive directors). In privately held companies, the Board of Directors often only consists of the statuatory corporate officials, and in sole proprietorships and partnerships, the board is entirely optional, and if it does exist, only operates in an advisory capacity to the owner or partners. Non-profit corporations are governed by a Board of Trustees instead of a Board of Directors
  • Director - manager of managers within an organization who is often responsible for a major business function and often reports to a Vice President. Often used with name of a functional area; Finance Director, Director of Finance, Marketing Director, etc. Not to be confused with a Member of the Board of Directors who is also referred to as a Director
  • Foreman
  • General manager or GM
  • Manager
  • Owner
  • Partner
  • President - legally recognized highest corporate officer; generally works for the Board of Directors but is not expected to handle daily operations, which is the responsibility of the CEO. Often, the title of President is held concurrently by the Chairman, the CEO, or the COO. The President is usually a member of the Board of Directors. Somtimes a President will represent only one division within a corporation, such as the President of Sales.
  • Secretary - legally recognized corporate officer who reports to the Board of Directors and is responsible for keeping the records of the Board and the company. This title is often concurrently held by the treasurer in a dual position called secretary-treasurer; both positions may be concurrently held by the CFO. Note, however, that the Secretary has a reporting line to the Board of Directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
  • Secretary-Treasurer - in many cases, the offices of Secretary and Treasurer are held by the same person. In this case, the position is commonly referred to by the combined title Secretary-Treasurer
  • Statuatory agent
  • Superintendent
  • Supervisor
  • Treasurer - legally recognized corporate officer entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility of caring for company funds. Often this title is held concurrently with that of Secretary in a dual role called secretary-treasurer. It can also be held concurrently with the title of CFO. Note, however, that the Treasurer has a reporting line to the Board of Directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
  • Vice Chair or Vice Chairman - officer of the Board of Directors who stands in for the Chairman in his/her absence, or who supervises a particular activity of the Board or company. A Vice Chairman might also concurrently hold other corporate titles, or might be an outside director.
  • Vice President - Middle or upper manager in a corporation. Depending on the corporate structure Vice Presidents report to the President, who will in turn report to the Director, who then reports to the Chief Officer of their respective division, who will then report to the CEO. They often appear in various hierarchical layers such as Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, Associate Vice President, or Assistant Vice President. Many times, corporate officers such as the CFO, COO, CIO, CTO, Secretary, or Treasurer will concurrently hold Vice President titles. Vice Presidents in small companies are also referred to as chiefs of a certain division, such as VP of Finance, or VP of Administration. These titles are the same as CFO and such titles.

Other corporate employee classifications include:

  • Exempt - Meaning that they're exempt from the FLSA. In a corporation, this generally applies to salaried professional staff, and executives, earning in excess of $23,660 annually.
  • Non-exempt - Generally an employee paid by the hour who is entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay at the rate of time and one-half the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, as well as other protections under child labor and equal pay laws.

Most modern corporations also have Non Employee workers. These are usually Temps or Consultants who, depending on the project and their experience, might be brought on to lead a task for which the skill-set did not exist within the company, or in the case of a temp, in the vernacular sense, to perform busy-work or an otherwise low-skilled repetative task for which an employee is deemed too valuable to perform. Non Employees generally are employed by outside agencies or firms, but perform their duties within a corporation or similar entity. They do not have the same benefits as employees of that company, such as pay-grades, health insurance, or sick days. Some high-skilled consultants, however, may garner some benefits such as a bonus, sick leave, or food and travel expenses, since they usually charge a high flat-fee for their services, or otherwise garner high hourly wages. An example of high-skilled consultants include Lawyers and Accountants who may not be employed by a corporation, but have their own firms or practices. Most Temps, however, are compensated strictly for the hours they work, and are generally Non-exempt.

Corporate titles are sometimes given more for honor than out of any differentiation in job function. For example, the COO title is often given to a manager who really only runs a certain division of a company, but is set to be in line to be the CEO. The titles "President" and "Vice President" are sometimes given in the same way.

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