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How to Become a Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience. However, many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree.


A bachelor’s degree in social work, urban studies, public administration, or a related field is the minimum requirement. Most employers require those whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree to have some work experience as well.

Many employers prefer workers with a master’s degree in social work, public or business administration, public health, or a related field. Coursework in statistics, program management, and policy analysis is helpful.

Work Experience

Work experience is often needed to become a social and community service manager and is essential for those wishing to enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree. Workers must demonstrate an ability to lead other workers and manage services and programs. They can get this experience by working as a social worker or in a similar occupation. For more information, see the profile on social workers. Lower-level management positions may require only a few years of experience; directors typically have more experience.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Managers need to understand and evaluate data and information from a variety of sources.

Communication skills. Working with the community and employees requires effective communication. Managers need to be able to speak and write clearly so others understand them. Public speaking experience is also helpful.

Leadership skills. Social and community service managers must motivate and lead their employees to inspire workers and set the direction of the program. 

Managerial skills. Social and community service managers spend much of their time administering budgets and dealing with personnel issues.

People skills. Managers need to foster good relationships with members of the community and their employees.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition