A community association manager surveys the propertyAre 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. A certain level of skill and expertise is required. That's why most boards seek the help of a CAM, and oftentimes a professional property management company. A CAM oversees the day-to-day operations of a property, ensuring that it is safe, attractive, and well-maintained for current and future residents. From overseeing a staff that might include maintenance, housekeeping, front desk, and security to collaborating with residents and board members, CAMs work to maintain and improve their community and residents' quality of life. Think of the role as a general manager for a hotel 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?

Answer: CAMs aren’t required to hold a college degree, but having one is beneficial. Having a bachelor's degree can indicate to some management companies that a candidate can demonstrate the breadth of knowledge required for the job. Ophelia Casey, director of human resources for FirstService Residential, says bachelor's degrees are not required but strongly preferred. "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 requirements to become a licensed Community Association Manager?

Answer: CAM requirements vary from state to state; for example, Georgia requires that candidates have a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate, be at least 18 years old and also complete the 3 following steps:

1. Pass a background check

2. Meet one of the following requirements:  

  • Successfully complete the 25-hour Community Association Manager’s pre-license course approved by the Georgia Real Estate Commission;
  • Complete a minimum of 4 quarter hours or 2 semester hours of either course work eligible for a major in real estate from a U.S. or Canadian accredited college or university or course in real property, agency, or contracts from a U.S. or Canadian accredited school of law; or
  • Provide proof of completion of at least 25 hours of pre-license coursework approved by the real estate regulatory agency of another state or province of Canada. Applicants must obtain a letter from that agency that verifies that the coursework is approved in that state or province.
3. Pass the state CAM exam

The exam is based on the course's coverage of the basics of community association management. This includes finances, condominium management, homeowner and property owner associations, board meetings, insurance, fair housing laws and more.

Question #4:  What skills and experience are necessary to be successful in the role of a Community Association Manager?

Answer: It takes more than just a core understanding of property management standards and processes to be a successful CAM. Since the job involves frequent interactions with residents, contractors, vendors, and other stakeholders, CAMs need to be able to relate to and understand what the association and its residents need. They should also have strong interpersonal and communication skills, a strong work ethic, organizational aptitude, and empathy.

“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 many growth opportunities, including 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. To facilitate the transition at FirstService Residential, the company offers several development programs to prepare associates for future management positions. CAMtoRD, for instance, provides 6 months of leadership development for property managers aspiring to be regional directors. For its future leaders, the company also offers courses and programs such as Leadership Essentials and FirstLeader.

Question #6: Is on-the-job training available?

Answer: Most property management companies provide on-the-job training, and FirstService is no exception. The company offers several on-site training workshops and resources to help CAMs succeed. 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.

“At FirstService, we pride ourselves on the depth of resources and the support that we offer our team members,” said Jeff Musselman, vice president at FirstService Residential. “With years of experience in some of the world's best-known hotels and resorts, our team members are well-positioned to help new and existing CAMs succeed.”

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.

Tuesday January 10, 2023