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There is no set career path to become a county executive, though you will typically need some background in management and politics. The position of county executive is typically an elected one, though in some cases you will be either hired or appointed by the council. In counties where you have to be elected, the process to obtain this position is much like any other political career. You do not necessarily need a college education, though many politicians come from business, law, or medical backgrounds. To become a county executive, you will typically need to start by running for your city or town council, or obtain other relevant work experience.
County governments typically have an executive branch, and the head of it is often referred to as a county executive. These individuals may be responsible for all the operations of the executive branch, setting policy for the county, and may even hold veto rights over the council. Most places have elected county executives, though in other cases they can be appointed or hired by the council, much like a city manager. In this case, the county executive is an employee and can often be removed by the council at any time.
Politicians that want to eventually become a county executive can start off in one of two ways. The first is to work your way up through political channels by volunteering for campaigns and running for local positions. If you can build up a respectable career in various aspects of politics, you may eventually work your way into a county executive position.
The other way to become a county executive is to establish yourself in the business or professional world. Many business people choose to enter politics after a successful career, and you may be able to step directly from your job into an elected position. Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals often move on to secondary careers in politics, as do some military officers. If you want to take this path, you will typically need to attend college to attain a relevant degree and then go through the process of becoming successful in your chosen field before running for office.
Since the position of county executive requires a high level of managerial expertise, it can also help to show that you have these skills. Many people are mayors or have managerial experience in the professional world before they become a county executive. This can be especially important if you want to become a county executive in a place where the council will be responsible for appointing or hiring you. In this case you will need to show that you have the relevant managerial skills, just like applying for any other job.