- Earn your undergraduate degree.
- Earn your graduate degree, such as an MPA.
- Gain experience in a specific city department to learn about the public sector.
- Work as an assistant or deputy to the city manager or mayor.
- Run for city council.
Career Advice for Aspiring City Managers
What does a city manager do?
City managers have a wide range of responsibilities, some of which can vary from municipality to municipality depending on the features and requirements of their region. Common job duties for city managers include:
What is a city manager?
A city manager is a senior government official who is in charge of managing the entire operation of the city. Various titles, such as chief administrative officer, chief operating officer, and administrative manager, are sometimes used to refer to city managers. While many of the local constituents that the city manager works with are elected officials, in most cases the local government’s city council hires the city manager instead of choosing one through election.
City managers typically have a similar set of qualities and competencies that enable them to successfully carry out the job’s particular responsibilities. City managers are often:
How to become a city manager
Review these steps to get ready if you’re interested in becoming a city manager:
1. Complete a bachelors degree
Most city managers have at least a bachelor’s degree, making them highly educated people. Find bachelor’s degree programs with a focus on public service, such as public administration. For aspiring city managers, other degrees, like business administration, are also typical.
2. Seek an internship
Look for an internship you can complete after you graduate or during your undergraduate breaks. A great way to develop your abilities, gain practical experience, and expand your professional network is to work as an intern for your local city government. If at all possible, spend some time working as the city manager’s assistant to gain more insight into their position and how to best prepare for it.
3. Earn a graduate degree
The majority of city managers hold doctoral degrees, typically a master’s degree. Masters of Public Administration and Masters of Business Administration are two popular masters programs for city managers. Many aspirants to public service finish their master’s degrees on the side while working and honing their skills at their jobs.
4. Gain experience in city government
Look for a job with your local city government. The best jobs for aspiring city managers are those like assistant city manager or deputy city manager, but you can work in a variety of positions and eventually advance into your desired position. Experience in the majority of city government positions will help you become qualified for a city manager position in the future.
5. Develop your skill set
Establish a personal list of your strengths and areas for development so that you can spend time honing your skills to become a city manager. Find as many leadership opportunities in your current position as you can, and offer your assistance on projects run by the current city manager. Attend workshops and courses for professional development designed for aspiring government leaders.
6. Consider certification
Many states recognize the Certified Public Manager, or CPM, designation. With this certification, you could have an advantage over other applicants. To find out what certification options are available in your state, contact the National Certified Public Manager Consortium, or NCPMC.
7. Enlist your network
To find open city manager positions and improve your chances of landing a job, use your professional network. When applying for a city manager position, it can be very advantageous to have contacts in the government who can attest to your experience and suitability for the position.
Tips for developing your governmental career
Use these suggestions to maximize your career advancement if you’re interested in working for your local government and eventually rising to the position of city manager:
What does the manager of a city do?
The executive who oversees those activities and ensures completion is a city manager. City managers help bridge the gap between politics and administration. They usually have to manage city staff, communicate other decisions, and carry out laws passed by the city council.
What is the difference between a mayor and a city manager?
Mayors are elected, but city managers are not. Ordinarily, mayors are chosen for two or four years in office. A legislative body typically hires or dismisses city managers, who are typically long-term city employees.
What makes a great city manager?
The city manager should have the utmost integrity, be trustworthy, respectful, and behave in an ethical and moral manner. He or she should be able to communicate effectively with the mayor, the city council, the general public, and staff members at all levels.
Is being a city manager stressful?
Despite the demanding nature of their work, they find satisfaction in seeing their policies put into practice because they know how many lives they have improved. Despite spending the majority of their time in offices, city managers are constantly in contact with the public and other members of the government.