Become a Social or Community Service Manager

By Maura Deering
Last Updated: September 25, 2020

Social and community service managers work across non-profit, government, and other organizations to coordinate and supervise services that support public well-being. Most social and community service manager jobs require a bachelor's degree in social work, public health, public or business administration, or a related field. Some employers may require a master's degree.

These professionals work with community members and stakeholders to determine which programs and services to provide and how to fund, improve, manage, and promote them. Some serve a particular population, such as children, the homeless, or those needing help with substance abuse or mental health issues. They may also hire, train, and supervise staff members, such as social workers.

The median annual salary for social and community service managers totals $67,150, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Earners in the lowest 10% earn around $41,220, while those at the higher end bring in $112,480. Most work in individual and family services, which employs more than 50,000 professionals nationwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the educational requirements to be a social and community service manager?

    Becoming a social and community service manager requires at least a bachelor's degree. Professionals in the field commonly earn their degree with a major in business administration, public administration, public health, or social work. In addition, employers prefer candidates with work experience as a social worker, substance abuse counselor, or a related position, particularly if they don't hold a master's degree.

  • Where do social and community service managers work?

    Social and community service managers find jobs in a variety of workplaces, including governmental or private social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, clinics, hospitals, and shelters. The highest employment levels can be found in individual and family services; local government; state government; residential facilities; and community food, housing, and emergency services.

  • How long does it take to become a social and community service manager?

    It typically takes candidates 6-8 years to become a social and community service manager. Four-year bachelor's degree-holders make up about 50% of those in the profession, while 24% possess a two-year master's degree. Bachelor's degree-holders must work for several years to gain the requisite knowledge, skill, and experience. Master's degree-holders may need less work experience.

  • Is a social and community service manager a good job?

    Yes. Social and community service manager jobs pay well and should see a faster-than-average projected growth in employment through 2029. A wide range of work settings accompanies the job, and the job duties vary as well. Job satisfaction also scores high in the profession with 4.1 out of five professionals highly satisfied, according to a PayScale survey.

Industries and Workplace Settings

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the following top industries for social and community service managers: individual and family services, which pays an annual mean salary of $66,280; local government, paying $89,750; state government with a $74,720 salary; residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities offering $65,040; and community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services paying $65,150.

Specific job duties often vary depending on the size of the workplace. Social and community service managers in large organizations often specialize. For example, they may supervise a particular program and report to higher management. Rather than designing programs, they implement those established by administrators, elected officials, and other key stakeholders. In smaller organizations, social and community service managers fill a variety of roles, including representing the organization publicly, supervising and executing multiple programs, budgeting, and fundraising.

Top Paying States for Social and Community Service Manager

The BLS reports that social and community service managers earn the most money in Washington, D.C. — with an annual mean wage of $104,510 — where the federal government pays the highest salaries in the industry. Rhode Island at $94,860, New Jersey at $88,270, Colorado at $86,510, and New York at $86,330 round out the top five.

Other well-paying industries include insurance carriers ($99,250) and scientific research and development services ($95,630).

The highest employment levels can be found in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas for Social and Community Service Manager

Trenton, New Jersey, tops the list of highest-paying metropolitan areas with an annual mean wage of $93,060. The following cities complete the top 10 list: Washington, D.C. ($92,720); Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, California ($92,200); New York City ($92,150); Denver, Colorado ($90,420); Merced, California ($90,380); Oxnard-Ventura-Thousand Oaks, California ($90,000); the Grand Forks area, North Dakota/Minnesota ($89,570); Greeley, Colorado ($88,810); and Colorado Springs, Colorado ($88,410).

Cities with the highest employment level of social and community service managers include New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Salary and Job Growth for Social and Community Service Manager

Of the different categories of social workers, social and community service managers can expect a 17% projected job growth rate through 2029. A large percentage of this growth centers on those working with older adults. For instance, community service managers working in nursing and residential facilities can expect strong growth potential and median annual salaries of $62,020.

Another area of projected growth includes working with people suffering from substance abuse. As the shift away from incarceration continues, community service directors of treatment programs and facilities can expect increased opportunities and median salaries above $60,000 per year. The top industries for substance abuse treatment include residential care facilities, individual and family services, and rehabilitation services.

Overall, the BLS projects 29,800 jobs to be added to the social and community service manager profession between 2019-29.

How to Become a Social and Community Service Manager

According to the BLS, a bachelor of social work (BSW) is the minimum degree social and community services managers need to earn for employment; however, some employers may require a master of social work (MSW). Students typically earn a BSW, then advance to an MSW program. After they graduate, candidates must log a few years of experience in social work, substance abuse, or a comparable field. Aspiring community service managers should expect at least 6-8 years of education and preliminary employment.

BSW programs include course content that develops skills in analysis, communication, management, problem-solving, and time-management. Graduates must be able to understand and evaluate data, assess program effectiveness, and develop new initiatives, along with administering budgets and addressing multiple issues.

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