Want to Become a Community Association Manager? Here Are 7 Questions and Answers to Consider
Are you interested in becoming a Community Association Manager (CAM)? Becoming a successful CAM (commonly known as a property manager) requires more than just the right skills and experience. It also requires a passion for helping others, an empathetic perspective, a commitment to building strong communities, and dedication to providing quality customer service to residents. Keep reading to learn what it takes to become a CAM and whether this is the right career for you.
Question #1: What is a Community Association Manager and what do they actually do?
Answer: Board members want their buildings and communities to run smoothly and remain financially healthy. But managing a property isn’t easy. It requires a certain level of skill and expertise. That’s why most boards turn to a CAM for help, and oftentimes a professional property management company. A CAM is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of a residential, commercial or mixed-use property, with the goal of ensuring that the property is well-maintained, safe, and attractive for current and future residents. From overseeing a staff that might include housekeeping, maintenance, front desk, and security to collaborating with board members and residents, CAMs work to maintain and improve their community and residents' quality of life. Think of the role as a hotel general manager but with permanent guests. In fact, many people who have considered becoming hoteliers have decided to become CAMs instead. Working as a CAM can be exciting as you get to work with a variety of people, and no two days are ever the same.
Question #2: Is a specialized degree required to become a Community Association Manager?
Answer: While a formal college degree is not required to become a CAM, it is beneficial. For some management companies, a bachelor's degree can indicate that the candidate can demonstrate the breadth of knowledge necessary for the role. At FirstService Residential, a bachelor's degree isn’t required but is strongly preferred, according to Ophelia Casey, director of human resources. "They don’t have to have a degree, but we do want them to have the equivalent job-related experience and financial acumen needed to read a balance sheet or income statement, for example. And, of course, previous experience in property management is always a plus!"
Question #3: What are the certification requirements for a Community Association Manager?
Answer: Certification varies from state to state, but in Florida, to be certified as a CAM, candidates must be at least 18 years old and must also complete these 4 steps:
- Enroll and complete 16 hours of course instruction
- Complete a background check, which requires fingerprinting.
- Complete a CAM license application and;
- Pass the state CAM exam.
The exam contains questions related to the course's coverage of state and federal laws. They cover community association management, association budget preparation, procedures for conducting association meetings, and property insurance.
Question #4: What skills and experience are necessary to be successful in the role of a Community Association Manager?
Answer: Being a successful CAM requires more than just knowledge of the property management industry’s standards and processes. Since the job involves frequent interactions with residents, vendors, contractors, and other stakeholders, an effective CAM should have strong interpersonal and communication skills, organizational aptitude and empathy – the ability to relate to and understand what the association and its residents need.
“Being able to work with people from all walks of life and relate to and understand different perspectives is invaluable in making sure that residents, board members and others within the community feel heard and respected,” said Casey. “At FirstService, we aim to maximize property values and enhance residents’ lifestyles. Our CAMs accomplish this partly by understanding the motivations behind issues or problems and anticipating them before they happen. Understanding, combined with empathy, is more likely to lead to viable solutions that will benefit everyone involved.”
Question #5: Is there room for growth?
Answer: Absolutely! CAMs have plenty of growth opportunities – whether it’s managing a larger team in a more complex community or moving on to a senior leadership role. With the proper training and guidance, many CAMs advance into positions with greater responsibilities. And to support the transition, FirstService Residential offers several development programs to help accelerate associates’ readiness for future management roles. CAMtoRD, for example, is a 6-month program for high-potential property managers designed to help them build the leadership skills needed to move into the Regional Director role. The company also offers additional courses and programs, such as Leadership Essentials and FirstLeader, to help further develop and inspire its future leaders.
Question #6: Is on-the-job training available?
Answer: Most property management companies provide some type of on-the-job training. At FirstService, there are several on-site training workshops and resources to help CAMs excel in their roles. For example, CAM Onboarding is a 4-stage program for new or newly promoted CAMs. It includes 4 days of instructor-led training in the first month, followed by 3 months of self-paced online learning. This training teaches associates the necessary skills to succeed in their positions.
"Our depth of resources and 360º of support is extensive," said Amy Sanchez, president at FirstService Residential. "FirstService employs team members who have worked at some of the world's best-known hotels and resorts and are available to help new and existing CAMs succeed. Our culture and passion around our people's well-being and professional development make FirstService a terrific place to work and grow."
Question #7: How much does a Community Association Manager earn?
Answer: The salary of a CAM varies depending on the manager’s location and experience. It also depends on the type of property managed. For example, a manager of a luxury high-rise with 80 on-site associates and multiple departments would certainly make more money than a manager of a smaller property with fewer staff or responsibilities.
Becoming a successful Community Association Manager requires dedication, determination and hard work. But if you’re looking for a rewarding career that offers variety, challenges, and opportunities for growth, you may discover that being a CAM is the right job for you. And a solid management company, like FirstService Residential, will provide you with a wealth of resources to help you succeed.
For information about this and other property management opportunities, contact FirstService Residential.