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How to Become a City Manager

Career News February 3, 2015

In the performance of their job responsibilities, city managers, also referred to as chief executives, establish government policies and develop regulations, rules, and laws.

Education Required to Become a City Manager

An individual that aspires to be a city manager must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in public administration; in fact, employers for many cities prefer master’s degree holders.

Those that seek to become city managers pursue a degree in public administration. Bachelor’s and master’s degree level coursework includes topic areas such as nonprofit management, public policy, grant writing, budgeting, economic development, politics, and state and local government.

Some public administration degree programs offer a city manager concentration, whereby students can focus on specific courses aimed at preparing them for careers in the field of capital management.

The majority of programs also expect the completion of a public service internship. Some public administration graduate degree programs only admit students with some professional work experience.

Experience Requirement for Aspiring City Manager

An aspiring city manager must first garner experience working as a state department assistant or management analyst, as a government agency executive, or an assistant city manager. Before they move on to managing larger cities, city managers often begin by leading smaller towns or cities.

Wage Outlook

In April 2014, city managers brought home an average annual wage of $85,409. Apart from salaries, these professionals may also receive a profit share or bonus. Location can have a great bearing on the level of income earned by city managers.

Experience is another deciding factor; while entry-level city managers bring home an average annual salary of $66,000, mid-career, experienced, and late-career city managers make an average annual wages of $84,000.

Job Profile

City managers are expected to direct governmental activities at the international, federal, state, and local levels and coordinate operational projects with lower-level managers, such as assistant city managers. City managers can be employed through appointment or election to office and can involve themselves either in making laws or presiding over units of government.

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