How much will our new leaders earn?

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: November 6, 2012

Now that we have a newly elected President and Vice President, we got to thinking, how much do these positions pay, what is their role, and what are the requirements for the job? The new commander-in-chief will also need to select cabinet members to advise him, and, over the course of the next four years, some vacancies in the Supreme Court will need to be filled. What’s the average salary of these positions?

President of the United States of America

The President leads the executive branch of the federal government. The commander in chief is called upon to make sure laws are faithfully executed as given in the Constitution and written by Congress. Article Two of the Constitution establishes many of the powers of  the President including the role of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the power to sign into law or veto bills passed by both houses of Congress, the power to create a cabinet of advisers, and to grant pardons or reprieves.

Specific qualifications for this position are rather broad. Article Two of the Constitution states that a candidate must:

  • be a natural-born citizen of the United States;
  • be at least thirty-five years old;
  • have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years.
Annual base salary: $400,000

Vice President of the United States of America

In the event of the death, resignation, or removal of the president, the vice president is the first person in the presidential line of succession. The Constitution of the United States, designates the vice president as President of the Senate who may break tie votes in that chamber. The Constitution assigns no executive powers to the vice president, but he or she may perform duties assigned by the president when acting as an agent of the president.

The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution states that "no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." So to be eligible to serve as Vice President, an individual must:

  • be a natural-born citizen of the United States;
  • be at least thirty-five years old;
  • have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years, and
  • not have already served two terms as President of the United States

Annual base salary: $221,100

Members of the President’s Cabinet

The President has the power to appoint men and women to work with him/her in running the government and carrying out the laws of the nation. The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 14 executive departments, including Agriculture, Commerce Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veteran Affairs, and the Attorney General.

One of the principal purposes of the Cabinet is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of their respective offices.

Although many appointments are tied directly to personal talents and qualifications of potential appointees, there is nothing in the Constitution that addresses the qualifications for members of the President's Cabinet. The only real requirements are that the President nominates a person to be a department secretary and the Senate must then confirm the appointment.


Annual base salary: $139,600 - $191,300

Supreme Court Justices

Associate Justices of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the United States. The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Supreme Court is primarily an appellate court, but has original jurisdiction in a small number of cases.

The Constitution does not specify qualifications for judicial candidates. However, all justices have been lawyers, and most pursued legal and political careers before serving on the Court. Many justices have served as members of Congress, governors, or members of the president’s cabinet. Some justices came to the Court from private law practice, and others were appointed from positions as law professors.


Annual base salary: $208,100

The Chief Justice receives $217,400

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