How Do You Become a City Manager?

Those who want to become a city manager will need a Master’s in Public Administration. This is because the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) states that 62 percent of government managers have a master compared with 24 percent who only have a bachelor’s degree. Below explains the steps to become a successful city manager.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Most aspiring city managers will become undergraduate public administration students who either earn a bachelor of science in public administration or Bachelor of Arts in public policy degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The more popular degree choice, public administration degree, will require the completion of approximately 120 credits. The required course curricula will include topics like public safety, labor relations, policy formation and bureaucratic laws.

More and more programs are emphasizing computer science courses, so graduates will be able to handle public information management systems. Managerial courses will cover city planning, organizational development and human resource productivity. These programs usually include lectures on basic political and government concepts that will help students understand the fundamentals of public service.

Earn a Master’s Degree

As explained above, city offices have high higher standards that usually require a master’s degree in public policy, organizational management or public administration. Master of Public Administration degree programs are usually designed for working adults, so courses are offered online, in the evenings or on the weekends. The assignments are often based on past or current public administration scenarios.

Classes pertain to topics like policy analysis, budgetary politics, financial accountability and government administration. Other topics include urban planning, program analysis, conflict resolution and organizational behavior. Many of these programs offer internship or research project opportunities. Many graduate schools offer optional concentrations in urban, rural or nonprofit management. Regardless of degree choice, most programs require 50 to 54 credit hours for completion.

Work as an Assistant City Manager

All city manager positions require copious amounts of related work experience, so most candidates begin their careers working for a specific city department, such as the departments of health, planning or sanitation. With a master’s degree and several years of experience, these individuals may advance into deputy city manager positions. Assistant city managers provide leadership support to the city manager by planning, organizing and recommending policies and performance strategies.

They perform a variety of intricate administrative tasks and management analysis duties that support the decision making process. Job candidates must be able to demonstrate to potential employers that they possess collaborative management styles and experiences developing team of professionals. The key attributes for this position include accountability, dedication and interpersonal skills.

Become a City Manager

When being interviewed for the job, candidates should show their service-oriented attitudes, creative problem solving approaches and public administration acumen. They should be prepared to coherently expound on how they would solve ongoing local issues. For example, in a city that suffers from poor interdepartmental communication, they should prepare appropriate managerial tools and technical solutions.

In a city that struggles to upgrade computer systems and offer the public online information solutions, they should know the statistical benefits of popular technology solutions. Once hired, candidates should be ready to handle multiple media relations, internal affairs and all relevant government departments. They should also be ready to arbitrate complaints between internal employees and the city or the public.

Related Resource: Become a Realtor

In order to become a city manager, candidates will need a graduate degree and hands-on work experience within their target administration.

Featured Degree Programs