If you talk to community association managers these days, they seem to agree on a few key things about the state of the profession. Business and career prospects are booming. Job candidates are not. The future of the industry depends on hiring young professionals—soon.
The past 50 years have seen exponential growth in the common interest housing model. According to the Foundation for Community Association Research’s 2021 report, Attracting Talent to the Community Association Management Industry, more than 26% of the nation’s housing stock is part of a community association. In states like Florida and California, that figure is upwards of 50%.
Despite the stats, there’s not enough managers to meet demand. “The biggest issue is a lack of awareness about our profession. It’s so unique that it’s just not really in the public understanding yet,” says Tony Campisi, executive director for the CAI Keystone Chapter. “We’re being challenged to communicate, on a big-picture scale, that our industry is growing and represents a good career choice with good opportunities, good pay, and a good lifestyle.”
At the same time, many of the characteristics that make the community management profession unique dovetail quite well with qualities young professionals are looking for: flexibility, diverse responsibilities, job security, good pay, advancement opportunities, collaborative environment, and work-life balance. Increasingly relevant is the ability to get all that without a college diploma and its associated loan burden.
“Across the board, community management hiring managers are seeing the same thing when it comes to recruiting: High school students are skeptical of incurring college debt. When they hear you don’t need a degree, they become more interested in community management,” says Laura Mason, CAI’s membership manager who has been promoting the profession at high school and college career fairs.
Campisi echoes this sentiment. “We’ve had several management companies tell us they’re looking at high schools more often than they used to and not requiring a four-year degree for some positions,” he says. “In the past, they may have overlooked potential candidates by requiring a college degree.”
To make it a successful fit, Campisi says management companies will need to offer additional training and education for young professionals with a focus on soft skills such as communication, customer service, and professional writing. He sees a growth opportunity for CAI and management companies to shift the emphasis from industry-specific skills to a greater emphasis on the basics.
>>Read more about attracting young professionals to community management in “Help Wanted” from the September/October issue of CAI’s Common Ground magazine.