When most people think of who runs a city, they see a mayor or a member of the municipal council. Other specialists, meanwhile, operate behind the scenes to ensure that day-to-day operations function correctly. City Managers are a rising profession working at the heart of municipal administration.
Similar Job Titles
- CEO: Municipality
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do City Managers do?
A City Manager would typically need to:
- Serve as the city’s Chief Administrator and Executive Officer; implement and supervise policies established by the mayor and city council.
- Ensure that government laws are followed by taking corrective action to fix infractions.
- Recommend and develop new public programs and services by researching, identifying, and forecasting community service trends and changing needs in the city.
- Establish and maintain an efficient communication system throughout the city; represent the city in all public utility franchise matters to ensure optimal performance.
- Prepare and present a yearly budget to the municipal council outlining the city’s fiscal situation and any unexpected swings in tax revenue or other financing sources.
- Monitor city expenses to administer budget implementation.
- Approve the hiring, suspension, implementation of necessary disciplinary procedures, and dismissal of the employee(s).
- Oversee government agencies; monitor and advise employees; and encourage them to participate in professional development programs.
- Meet with several department leaders to identify and address personnel requirements and project expenses.
- Collaborate with local businesses and government institutions to maintain the city’s economic development and to provide advanced changes to the city’s citizens.
- Rep the city and offer ideas at public meetings and conferences, respond to media inquiries about city council activities, and coordinate city activities with civic and commercial organizations.
- Ensure the welfare of citizens by implementing an acceptable level of safety, municipal services, and a clean community environment.
- Inform individuals about city rules and procedures; solicit feedback; and respond to and directly resolve challenging inquiries or complaints via emails and phone calls.
- Write suggestions for new ordinances or resolutions; guarantee that reports and studies commissioned by elected officials are completed.
- Oversee and carry out economic development programs, large-scale public works projects, and succession plans for essential posts.
- Participate in networking opportunities at the local, regional, and state levels; give personal leadership for highly sensitive, political, or contentious initiatives and programs.
Standard Work Environment
A City Manager must be sensitive to the interests and wishes of various stakeholders, ranging from residents to city employees. They act as a link between the mayor, the city council, and city employees, with the city council serving as the direct supervisor. The majority of the workday is spent in the office or meetings with various city stakeholders. It is common to collaborate closely with others as part of a team. You may be required to travel to different towns and stay for more than three weeks.
The dress code varies depending on location and season, although it is typically business casual.
City Managers are expected to work a typical eight-hour day, five days a week. However, frequent task changes and unforeseen emergencies may result in an irregular program that becomes necessary over time.
A council-manager style of government allows its members to vote on who will be the city manager interviews. The council may hire a headhunting firm to find the best suitable candidates for the position of City Manager, which may make the selection process challenging to complete.
City Managers are generally employed by:
- City Councils of Large Cities
- Small Towns
- Other Communities
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional groups and organizations are invaluable resources for people seeking professional development or seeking to interact with other professionals in their industry or employment. Membership in one or more of these organizations looks excellent on your CV and helps to strengthen your credentials and qualifications as a City Manager.
- Time pressures, frequent change of tasks, and multitasking compounded by a noisy & distracting work environment
- Work made tedious by lack of resources and capacity to match the needs of the city
- Increasingly uncivil civic discourse
- Little or no help from increasingly dysfunctional state and central governments
Work Experience Suggestions
The duties of a City Manager differ significantly from those of an entry-level employee. Obtain an internship in your local city if possible to learn more about the practical aspect of city government. Most employers want at least five years of experience in municipal government. Professionals often have histories as Assistant City Managers or department leaders with progressively responsible experience in target development and program evaluation before assuming the post of City Manager.
There are no hard and fast regulations about a City Manager’s educational qualifications, and they typically come from various educational backgrounds, such as criminology, finance, and accounting. A bachelor’s degree in public administration, on the other hand, will increase your chances of being appointed as a City manager.
Technical and professional writing, macro and microeconomics, government and public affairs, data-driven decision-making, financial statement analysis, organizational behavior principles, and corporate policies and strategies are all recommended. Most programs include a capstone project in public administration, which may include practical experience or a research article.
A degree in political science, business administration, or management is an option. Employers may also propose a master of public administration (MPA) or certified public manager qualifications. Because of the increased demand for City Management posts, some schools are now offering a City Management graduate credential as part of the MPA program, as well as training in City Management.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
Certification from an objective, credible, and reputable organization can help you gain professional credibility, stand out in a competitive job market, increase your chances of advancement or promotion, validate your knowledge and increase your confidence at work, and help you build your knowledge in a specific area or stay up to date on technology.
Voluntary certification is frequently viewed as evidence of an individual’s desire and motivation, providing them with an advantage regarding increases and promotions. A City Manager would benefit from having a valid driver’s license.
Projected Career Map
City Managers often go through the management ranks to the highest positions in local government. Most town managers begin their careers in a small town and work up to a position in a larger city.
Concentrate on a career path that has practical relevance to local government, such as finance, engineering, or law enforcement, and master the principles that will prepare a person to lead a complex and diverse organization. Understand how to manage relationships as well. Add these to your City Manager toolset to expand your career opportunities.
The mayor and city council appoint city managers. When elected seats change, the City Manager is frequently transferred to a new city. The experience will assist City Administrators establish a reputation for excellence and advancing to higher-paying jobs in their careers.
Candidates with the necessary education and experience, as well as a strong commitment to public service and effecting constructive change in local government, have the highest job prospects.
Beneficial Professional Development
To maintain and improve performance, a City Manager pursues ongoing professional education and development. Continuous professional improvement in public administration and management is expected. Attending educational courses, examining professional publications, creating personal networks, and joining professional associations are all ways to achieve these goals.
If you want to be the City Manager of a larger city, you might consider furthering your studies with a master’s degree in public administration. Most graduate programs in public administration only accept candidates with prior professional experience. You may also complete a thesis or a major research project that reflects your specialty or interests, in addition to advanced public administration courses.
Being a City Manager is not your usual CEO position. City Managers must get their hands dirty, roll up their sleeves, and work with various community members, elected officials with opposing viewpoints. Colleagues ranging from police officers to planners to be effective. To exhibit an awareness of these diverse tasks, a City Manager must show genuine interest, become sensitive to the requirements of these various disciplines, and comprehend the significance each subject plays in a community’s development. This is a 365-day commitment.
Advice from the Wise
Leadership is the ability to turn ideas into reality. The most effective method is to do it. Remember that done is preferable to perfect. Use your brain to handle yourself; your heart to handle others.
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