Community association management is becoming a sought-out career for those entering the job market for the first time or those considering a change late in their professional lives. The role is expected to see growth for new hires in the coming decade, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There were about 363,000 property, real estate, and community association managers working in 2018 with employment forecast to grow 7% through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. BLS attributes this growth to more people choosing to live in condominiums, cooperatives, planned communities, and senior housing.
“Community associations are a true economic engine, and there’s a need for talent at all levels,” says CAI’s 2019 President Cat Carmichael, CMCA, PCAM, who has made it her mission to open channels that can bring in talented individuals to common-interest communities. “We are striving to find new talent where the talent is and increase awareness of the benefits of community association service.”
Employers typically prefer to hire college graduates with a degree in finance, accounting, real estate, or public administration, but workers with a high school diploma and less than five years of relevant experience also can be considered for entry-level positions, according to BLS.
Employers also may require that community managers participate in training programs or workshops from professional trade associations (like CAI’s Professional Management Development Program) to develop their management skills and expand their knowledge on topics such as insurance and risk management, governance, homeowner relations, personnel management, and reserve funding.
BLS calculated the median pay for a community manager in May 2018 at $58,340 per year. This amount is higher than the median compensation reported by assistant community managers ($43,340) and portfolio managers ($52,500) in the Foundation for Community Association Research’s 2017 Community Association Manager Compensation and Salary Survey. Compensation increases significantly as managers gain more experience and responsibility. According to the Foundation’s research, on-site managers earn an average of $71,560, high-rise managers earn $86,500, and large-scale managers earn $100,000.
Community managers oversee the daily operation of residential properties. In addition, BLS lists some important skills that community managers should have to excel in their role:
- Communication. Managers must understand contracts and real-estate documents to clearly explain the materials and answer questions raised by residents or board members.
- Customer service. Managers must provide excellent customer service to keep homeowners happy and expand their business with new clients.
- Interpersonal. Because community association managers interact with people every day, they must have excellent interpersonal skills.
- Listening. Managers must listen to and understand residents to meet their needs.
- Organizational. Managers must be able to plan, coordinate, and direct multiple contractors at the same time, often for multiple properties.
- Problem-solving. Community association managers must be able to mediate disputes or legal issues between residents, homeowners, and board members.