Grants managers can work for those either seeking or offering grants and for nonprofits or government agencies. They can be hired to work exclusively with private or public funding or required to handle both. The position can be defined in different ways and require different credentials, depending upon the needs of the employer. Generally, you can become a grants manager with a bachelor's degree, knowledge of the fund raising process and some relevant experience as a development assistant or associate. Some positions require prior experience managing a grant portfolio and some knowledge of government contracts.
Job positions in the area of nonprofit fund raising, also called development, are not always strictly defined. Nonprofits sometimes operate with limited resources that require staff to wear many hats. When you become a grants manager, you will typically be assigned a broad range of duties, which can include fundraising in some organizations. This is particularly true with small nonprofits that do not have an official development department. Small nonprofits sometimes hire one individual to perform virtually all of the organization's fund raising tasks as a manager of the process.
When you become a grants manager, you may find employment with larger corporations who require personnel to specifically handle the grant application or distribution process. This may be one position in a multi-person development department that has the resources to segment development duties by type of work. A grants manager may require a broad range of skills to operate as the development point person for a small organization, while others would likely need less general experience and may even be treated as an entry-level hire.
Generally, to become a grants manager, you will need a bachelor's degree. Employers tend not to request a specific major; the position requires an extensive amount of writing, however, so it is often beneficial to have a degree in an area where writing skills are emphasized. To be competitive for the position, you will also need some specific knowledge or experience. There are grant writing and development training courses offered by trade associations, nonprofits and community colleges that can teach you how to handle this type of work. In some instances, these training courses offer certificate programs, and the certificate is enough to get you an entry-level position in the title.
It is more likely that you will need one to three years experience working in a development office as an assistant or associate to become a grants manager. This requirement to become a grants manager will likely be a factor concerning positions with larger organizations. Smaller nonprofits have the leeway to hire someone who seems able to do the job without requiring time in a related position. Consequently, your pay scale will reflect the different levels of experience under each scenario.