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The Path to Becoming a Credit Union CEO

By Moriah Taylor - April 26, 2022

What does it take to become the CEO of a credit union? What skills, education and experience prove most vital?

To explore this question, CUCollaborate analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of over 2,700 credit union CEOs to see what skills and experiences they shared.

Scroll through this interactive article to learn what we found.

Top 10 skills listed:

1. Banking
2. Strategic Planning
3. Credit
4. Loans
5. Leadership
6. Risk Management
7. Financial Analysis
8. Management
9. Team Building
10. Customer Service


The top 12 schools attended by credit union CEOs on LinkedIn were:

1. The Wharton School

2. Phoenix University

3. University of Wisconsin-Madison

4. University of Virginia Darden School of Business

5. Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management

6. Western Michigan University

7. Michigan State University

8. Texas A&M

9. Brigham Young University

10. Cornell University

11. Illinois State University

12. Miami University

Common majors included: Finance, Management, and Business Administration.

The highest degree attainment for the 1,441 CEOs that listed their education details was distributed as follows:


This information may lead you to wonder: Does having an advanced degree shorten the amount of time it takes to become a credit union CEO? Is the path to CEO quicker at smaller credit unions than larger ones?

To examine these questions in greater depth, we took a closer look at how degree attainment relates to asset size and the number of years someone spends in the work force before becoming a credit union CEO.

(To limit visual outliers, this graph focuses on credit unions with less than $1 billion in assets)

Looking at CEOs with Associate degrees, you'll notice that none of these credit unions have over $250 million in assets. It may be necessary to obtain a higher degree if you want to be the CEO of a larger credit union.

By far, the most common level of degree earned by credit union CEOs was a Bachelor's degree.

What is the benefit then of getting a Master's degree? Well, you may be more likely to be CEO of a larger credit union.

Over half (54%) of the CEOs of credit unions with over $500 million in assets have Master's degrees.

While there are very few credit union CEOs with Doctorates, it doesn't seem this speeds up the path to CEO.

In fact, we found that a future CEO spends about 20 years in the workforce before reaching the top, regardless of degree level or asset size.

What jobs do credit union CEOs have before they become CEO? To learn more, hover over the circles below:


How to read this graph: The size of each circle represents the number of CEOs that have held that position. The color (on a scale of light green to royal blue) represents the average amount of time spent in that position.

Amongst the 62 titles represented above, credit union CEOs report having spent an average of 5.58 years in entry-level positions, 10.38 years in management, and 12.6 years in executive-level positions before serving as CEO.

In conclusion, while the path to credit union CEO may wind through a multitude of possibilities, most journeys do share a few of the same elements.

Generally speaking, one must develop technical skills revolving around banking and loans, as well as personal skills such as personnel management and team building.

It is also prudent to obtain a Bachelor's or Master's degree if you aim to be the CEO of a sizable credit union. Lastly, CEOs have an average of 20 years' previous experience in management and executive positions.


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