How to start a career in community management

18th August 2020

Do you have an interest in community services and development, and the desire to take on a leadership role? If so, a career in community management might be for you.

Working within this industry can be very fulfilling, as it provides you with the opportunity to connect to and aid the local community, including vulnerable members of society such as refugees and the elderly. You may be able to have a real and positive impact on the lives of these people by helping them to gain access to useful services and facilities, which in turn have the potential to markedly improve their quality of life.

Community managers often coordinate and organise teams, which can include the hiring of staff, delegation of tasks, and providing feedback and support for team members. The specifics of community management roles differ from location to location, but often include initiating, planning and running community-based projects. These projects can range from coordinating various educational services for the public, to the creation or management of public facilities like libraries and recreation centres.


Why study community management?

Studying community management is a great choice for those who already have a background in community services or similar fields, and who wish to take on more responsibility. Furthermore, pursuing this kind of management role is an excellent way to advance one’s career.

Those with strong communication and organisational skills are ideal for management roles, as these positions help to develop those qualities further. Management roles require interpersonal skills that enable positive relationships, but still ensure that team members are pulling their own weight and that tasks are successfully completed. It is sometimes necessary to navigate difficult working relationships, which can include mediation or compromise. The capacity for creative thinking is also an excellent skill for a community manager to have, as it often helps to think outside the box when dealing with complex problems.

In addition to the development of communication strategies, studying community management will also teach you a variety of skills that are necessary to smoothly run a business or organisation (such as managing a budget), as well as the legal and ethical responsibilities of those providing services to the community.


Study and Career Pathways

Choosing a study pathway in community development or community services is the best way to get started in this industry, and is the first step towards becoming a community manager. For example, a Certificate III in Community Services would be an excellent way to begin building your understanding and experience in this area. Upon completion of a relevant Certificate III course, you may like to study a Certificate IV or a Diploma, which can usually be completed within 12 to 18 months. It is possible to study both community services and community development at these levels, and all of these options would provide you with the skills necessary to work within this industry in roles such as a community development worker.

From here, it is possible to follow two main pathways to leadership roles. You may choose to work in the industry to gain experience, and to improve your professional practice. In time this may lead to a leadership role, particularly as these opportunities are sometimes offered internally, before being advertised to the general public. Having a practical understanding of the workplace and its processes may set you apart from other applicants.

However, if you are looking for a more direct route to a management role it is also possible to study a higher degree which is specifically about leadership skills. The Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management is an ideal option for those who wish to follow this pathway. This is usually a 12 month course, and teaches students how to manage projects and organisations within the community. It is a nationally recognised course, and upon its completion you will be fully qualified to take on roles including that of a community development manager.

Job opportunities within the fields of community development and community services exist all over the country, from central business districts to small rural towns. A career in this industry can therefore follow a huge number of diverging pathways, and provides a myriad of ways that you can positively contribute to society.

Written by Elisa Thompson
Elisa Thompson
Elisa is a freelance writer and editor. She has a strong background in education, social and cultural studies, and has experience in research and academic writing.

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