How do I Become a City Manager?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A city manager is an executive typically in charge of a city's regulations, laws, budgets and governmental policies. The position may be elected or appointed. The requirements a person must meet to become a city manager depend on the city for which he wants to work. Some cities list requirements that start with the minimum of earning an associate’s degree. In most cases, however, a person who wants to work in this position will need a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to pursue this field. A city may make an exception to education requirements, however, if a person has a significant level of related experience and is otherwise considered qualified for the job.

The requirements for a city manager can depend on the city of choice.
The requirements for a city manager can depend on the city of choice.

A person who lands this job is responsible for a wide variety of tasks related to running a city efficiently. He may, for example, be responsible for making decisions about building projects and zoning. He may also make decisions for the health and safety of city residents. A person with this job may supervise various city departments and make decisions for budget allocations as well.

City managers may oversee civil services.
City managers may oversee civil services.

Since running a city can mimic running a business in some ways, gaining experience with managing a business may prove helpful for a person who wants to become a city manager. A person who is interested in this career may seek a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in business administration as preparation. Another possible educational choice is a degree in public administration. Some people may secure this position without earning such a degree, however, especially if they have a good amount of related experience. Additionally, those who’ve previously served on a city board or association may be seen favorably when applying for this position.

Experience in business administration can help prepare someone for the role of city manager.
Experience in business administration can help prepare someone for the role of city manager.

Among the college courses a person may take to prepare to become a city manager are those related to business and communications. Computer, math, and technology courses may also help a person to prepare for this career. Government, economics, social studies, and public speaking classes may prove helpful as well.

Public speaking classes may be helpful for an aspiring city manager.
Public speaking classes may be helpful for an aspiring city manager.

To become a city manager, a person typically has to apply to city council. Some people may gain a leg up over other applicants by completing an internship with the city manager’s office before applying or even by working as an assistant to a city manager. Sometimes networking may prove helpful as well. In some places, a prospective city manager may also have to pass an exam to prove that he has the knowledge and level of competency important for a person in this position. In some jurisdictions, the position is elected and a prospective candidate must launch a successful political campaign for the position.

City managers will need to communicate effectively with a variety of people and officials.
City managers will need to communicate effectively with a variety of people and officials.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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