How to Become a City Manager

City managers develop city budgets, manage workers and act as a go between for elected city officials and citizens. The city manager's office prepares policy reports to explain public policy to the citizenry, including budget information. Managers in city government select staff for public projects and provide citizens with reports on project status. As a go between, the city manager also relays concerns and complaints from citizens to elected officials.


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    Pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration. The minimum requirement for a position as a city manager is a bachelor's degree, but many cities hire candidates with advanced degrees.
    • A public administration undergraduate degree includes courses such as labor relations, public safety, city planning, policy formation and human resources.
    • The degree program also includes courses that the student can use to pursue a career in business management as well such as accounting and economics.
    • Undergraduate degree programs in public administration may require an internship to complete the coursework.
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    Pursue a Masters Degree Program in Public Administration. A master's degree program enhances the employment opportunities available to the student.
    • The master's degree program in Public administration allows the student to specialize in a particular area of public work such as urban management.
    • The graduate degree program also includes an internship, which provides the student with hands on training in a city managers office.
    • Courses may include managing organizational change, business economics, organizational behavior, leadership and ethics training.
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    Apply for Positions in the City Managers Office to Gain Experience. City governments may require work experience for applicants to a city manager position. Working in the city manager's office as an assistant can provide the experience and training for a manager position.
    • Students can also gain experience through volunteer work, internships and community service work.
    • City governments may also hire candidates with management experience from the business community. Those with experience managing budgets, company policies and overseeing employees can qualify for the position.
    • A mentor in the city managers office can help guide the student or applicant in developing job qualifications for a city manager position.
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    Search for City Manager Positions. Candidates with the requisite education and experience can begin applying for city manager positions.
    • Each city determines the qualifications for a city manager position. The applicant must check with the city to determine if he meets the requirements.
    • Use online job sites and classified listings to find opportunities as a city manager. The applicant can network with contacts made while volunteering or working in the city manager's office.


  • The International City Management Association is a professional organization for city managers that provide information for professional development opportunities.
  • City managers may work longer than 40 hours per week and must be available for emergencies, government meetings and committees.
  • Students may pursue an undergraduate degree in business before studying public administration.

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Categories: Careers in Government