Generally, they serve as long as the president who appointed them remains in office. Executive department secretaries answer only to the president and only the president can fire them.
With the exception of the vice president and attorney general, all cabinet heads are called “secretary.” The modern cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments. In addition, seven other individuals have cabinet rank.
Those seven others with cabinet rank are the:
- White House chief of staff
- Environmental Protection Agency administrator
- Office of Management & Budget director
- U.S. Trade Representative ambassador
- U.S. Mission to the United Nations ambassador
- Council of Economic Advisers chairman
- Small Business Administration administrator
The secretary of State is the highest ranking member of the presidential cabinet. The secretary of State is also fourth in the line of succession to the presidency behind the vice president, the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tempore.
Cabinet officers serve as the heads of the following executive agencies of the government:
- Health and Human Services
- Homeland Security
- Housing and Urban Development
- Veterans Affairs