What are the Different City Manager Jobs?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2018
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Although the title may give a different impression, city manager jobs do not include managing a city. In fact, most city manager jobs are of an administrative nature with the goal of helping those who are charged with the task of actually running a city do so more efficiently. This means that the city manager, and his or her assistant managers, represent and report directly to various elected government officials, such as a mayor and city council. Depending on the size and population of the specific city, there may be several lead and support city manager jobs that need to be filled.

First, all city manager jobs require a thorough understanding of general government, as well as knowledge of laws and regulations that govern zoning, public works, and public health and safety. This is because city managers and assistant city managers are often called upon to assess current operations of these functions, to meet with various city agencies and committees that conduct them, and to provide recommendations on the future direction and coordination of these services while adhering to budget limitations. In addition, city managers often meet with community groups and organizations to present city policies relating to public services and to address citizen concerns.


Since many of these administrative duties can become quite burdensome when it comes to very large cities, they are sometimes delegated to other departments. Therefore, the lead or head city manager will typically seek approval to appoint department managers or committee supervisors to handle certain tasks. These individuals contribute to the chain of command from the department or committee level to city council by reporting directly to an assistant or deputy city manager.

It should be noted that those who are successful in any of the various levels of city manager jobs are accustomed to working under pressure and meeting tight deadlines. In addition to spending a great deal of time in meetings with department heads and city officials, there is usually a fair amount of time spent in negotiations with civic groups and other community organizations, including labor unions. This equates to working long hours and the necessity of being available around the clock to address emergencies.

For those interested in pursuing a career in city management, a college degree is expected. At minimum, a bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, business or public administration, or related field is required. However, since competition among candidates for city manager jobs has increased over the last few decades, a master’s degree in generally preferred.



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