Not happy with your puny raise this year? Get a job as a CEO. Their pay logged eye-popping gains this year, so much so that two corporate heads earned more than $1 billion in a single year for the first time, according to GMI Ratings.
At the top of the list was Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg with total actual compensation of about $2.3 billion.
According to GMI Rating's 2013 CEO Pay Survey which looked at 2,259 publicly traded North American companies and 2,250 CEOs whose tenure lasted at least two consecutive years, all the CEOs in the top 10 list earned at least $100 million for the first time.
Compensation for the CEOs studied increased 8.47 percent at the median, while pay for chief executives at S&P 500 companies increased 19.65 percent.
One reason the amounts on GMI's list are so large is that most of the CEOs on the list have benefited from receiving restricted stock awards at the depths of the recession, said Aaron Boyd, director of governance research at executive compensation research firm Equilar.
"These awards were given while stock prices were at historic lows," he said. "These chief executives were able to see their company through to better times with a stock market that is hitting record highs and is more than 200 percent higher than it was in early 2009. These levels of stock returns have been critical in bringing value to the executives and their shareholders."
The most surprising member in the top 10 list was Apple's CEO Tim Cook, says Greg Ruel, senior research consultant, GMI Ratings.
Cook received stock awards valued at about $378 million in 2011, the year that Apple founder Steve Jobs died, as an inducement to accept the position of CEO.
Those awards weren't meant to start vesting before 2016, but the $140 million he made on the vesting of restricted stock in 2012 was based on the remainder of equity grants from 2008 and 2010.
That means "Tim Cook could be a fixture on this list as his outstanding equity continues to vest," Ruel said.
Boyd said GMI's report studies realized compensation, which includes the value of stock awards that are vested or options that are exercised during the year even though the awards may have been granted in previous years.
For example, Mark Zuckerberg exercised over $2 billion in options when Facebook went public last year even though the awards were given years earlier, explains Boyd.
GMI looks for outcomes and not inputs.
"It's a legitimate way to look at pay but the implications are different since it measures the CEO's ability to grow the stock prices of their companies and then capitalize on it," Boyd said.
Ruel says total realized compensation does not regard estimates on granted stock for the most recent pay year; instead, this figure incorporates all elements of annual compensation, such as salary, perks, and bonuses, and adds to it the real profits made when equity vests.
"We're most interested in the shares they now own and can sell for personal gain," Ruel said.
Here are the 10 highest-paid CEOs and their total actual compensation for 2012, according to GMI Ratings.
quicklist: category: Mark Zuckerberg media: 20649629 title: Facebook, Inc. text: $2,278,668,214
quicklist: category: Richard D. Kinder media: title: Kinder Morgan, Inc. text: $1,116,685,089
quicklist: category: Mel Karmazin media: 20649508 title: Sirius XM Radio Inc. text: $255,355,676
quicklist: category: Gregory B. Maffei media: 20649865 title: Liberty Media Corporation text: $254,890,638
quicklist: category: Timothy D. Cook media: 20649410 title: Apple Inc. text: $143,828,867
quicklist: category: Edward W. Stack media: title: Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. text: $142,052,496
quicklist: category:Gregory B. Maffei media: 20649865 title: Liberty Interactive Corporation text: $136,450,484. Gregory Maffei appears twice in GMI's list because Liberty has two proxy filings -- Liberty Interactive Corp. and Liberty Media Corp. -- with two public securities and two compensation plans, Ruel explains.
quicklist: category: Howard Schultz media: 20649776 title: Starbucks Corporation text: $117,562,601
quicklist: category:Marc Benioff media: 20649724 title: salesforce.com, inc. text: $109,544,875
quicklist: category: Frank J. Coyne media: title: Verisk Analytics, Inc. text: $100,432,117