Social and community service managers coordinate and oversee community outreach programs. They play a role in analyzing, budgeting, and executing programs with the help of community volunteers, agency executives, and staff.
This career is ideal for people who enjoy helping others and want to make a difference in their communities. Creative thinkers, decision-makers, and team players can also make excellent social and community service leaders.
Most positions in social and community service management require a bachelor's degree in social work, although a master's degree can qualify workers for higher-level opportunities.
Continue reading this guide to learn what a career as a social and community service manager entails, what to expect daily, and where you can find work.
What Does a Social and Community Service Manager Do?
The primary duty for social and community service managers is ensuring their communities offer programs and resources for people in need. They plan, execute, and analyze programs to help community members like the elderly, children, and low-income families.
However, these professionals are generally not responsible for designing community outreach programs. Instead, they carry out the plans of community leaders and agency officials, working as project managers to oversee the execution of community programs. They also work with investors and stakeholders to determine program budgets.
Social and community service managers sometimes lead just one program for organizations with multiple programmatic offerings. Others oversee several programs for a smaller organization. In either type of role, these professionals may have several duties, including identifying avenues of improvement, writing grant applications, and researching new program opportunities.
A Day in the Life of a Social and Community Service Manager
A manager of social and community service spends most of their day organizing collected information and research, performing administrative duties, and developing goals for programs and teams. Checking emails, making phone calls, and hosting or participating in meetings are all common daily tasks.
These workers also oversee and coordinate their teams and projects. In addition, they may spend time training volunteers or staff, coaching or mentoring community members, and coordinating work schedules. Social and community service managers occasionally speak at community events and travel to community locations and activities.
Key Soft Skills for a Social and Community Service Manager
Negotiation: Social and community service leaders meet with decision-makers, department heads, and team members to negotiate budgets, program designs, and program outcomes. They may also negotiate tasks and deadlines within their teams to ensure projects are successful. Active Listening: Active listening is an important leadership skill that requires focused attention to absorb information. These leaders actively listen to their teams' concerns, superiors' requirements, and community members' needs. Time Management: Social and community service managers use their time wisely to accomplish project goals and meet deadlines. For example, they may set aside one hour in the morning to check emails and make phone calls, reserving the rest of the day for project-focused tasks. Communication: These professionals often speak at community events, host training events, and write grant proposals. Oral and written communication skills allow them to share their ideas and achieve their goals effectively.
Key Hard Skills for a Social and Community Service Manager
Personnel Management: Because they work in leadership positions, social and community service managers oversee staff, volunteers, and employees. Training new team members and coordinating tasks and projects are essential responsibilities for these professionals. Financial Management: Community service managers adhere to budgets for each program they oversee. They communicate with financial decision-makers and stay abreast of organizations' financial needs as they implement programs. Analysis: These professionals collect and analyze data from community leaders, members, and past programs to inform their decisions about upcoming programs. They also evaluate current programs for continuous improvement. Grant Writing: Some organizations may rely on community service leaders to write grant proposals seeking funding for current or upcoming programs. This technical writing skill requires research, data analysis, and written communication skills.
How to Become a Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers often begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in social work. This degree typically takes four years of full-time study.
Some professionals pursue a master's degree in social work, public policy, or business administration after graduating with their bachelor's. A master's degree — which usually takes 2-3 years of full-time study — may be a requirement for some positions.
Social and community service leaders with a master's degree may receive higher salaries than those with a bachelor's degree. August 2020 data from The Council on Social Work Education and The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) found that graduates with a bachelor's in social work earned, on average, $3,700 less annually than those with a master's in social work.
Learners may also pursue certifications to enhance their qualifications or earning potential. NASW offers several credentials for social work professionals.
Social and Community Service Manager Salary and Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median salary for social and community service managers was $74,000 as of 2021. However, professionals working in local government earned much more: Their median salary was $93,420. Other high-paying industries include insurance carriers, insurance agencies and brokerages, and the federal executive branch of government.
Other factors that impact earning potential for social and community service managers include experience, education, and location.
The BLS projects a faster-than-average 12% increase in these jobs from 2021 to 2031, with an average of 18,000 new positions opening annually. An aging population and growing need for addiction support could contribute to the rising demand for social and community service managers.
Where Can I Work as a Social and Community Service Manager?
According to the BLS, social and community service managers often work in individual and family services. Local and state governments; disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities; and food, housing, and emergency community services also employ these professionals in large numbers.
Specialized industries — like insurance, scientific research, and office administrative services — hire fewer of these professionals. However, these roles' technical skill sets can lead to higher salaries: These industries each paid average annual wages higher than $100,000 as of 2021.
Location also matters: BLS data from 2021 shows California and New York had the highest employment numbers for social and community service managers, while Washington, D.C. and New Jersey paid the highest salaries.
Top Locations for Social and Community Service Managers
As one of the nation's social policy leaders, Washington, D.C. offers the highest average salary for social and community service leaders. Its average annual wage of $105,660 is $31,660 more than the national median salary for this position, according to BLS data from May 2021. Other states with average salaries higher than the national median wage for this role include New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia.
However, except for New York, the highest-paying states do not employ the highest number of social and community service managers. Instead, some of the most populous states, like California, Texas, and Florida employ these workers in the highest numbers.
Common Questions about Social and Community Service Managers
How do you become a successful community service manager?
These professionals typically have a bachelor's degree in social work, business administration, or public policy. Some additionally pursue a master's degree in a relevant concentration to enhance their skills and job opportunities. Credentials such as certifications from NASW can also qualify workers for community service manager careers.
What are the job responsibilities of a social and community service manager?
These managers direct efforts for organizations' community-focused programs. Using research and knowledge of local communities, these professionals suggest new programs, evaluate the efficacy of current programs, and determine potential funding sources. Some social and community service managers lead multiple programs, while others oversee just one.
What is the main focus of a community service manager?
The primary focus of a social and community service manager is coordinating programs that help people in their community. They typically supervise program-related projects, spearhead community events, and reach out to community members and leaders to determine communities' most crucial needs.
Alexandra is a driven, high-spirited, unapologetically energetic, and optimistic person. She prides herself on her devotion to becoming a better business leader and overall human. She has an insatiable hunger for knowledge, asks a million questions, and thrives on making change.
She has reached many populations throughout her career. She's studied recidivism, helped prior criminal offenders reintegrate into society, and built trusting relationships while working at a homeless shelter.
Her passion for education also shines through in her work. She taught younger children for many years, but has since turned her focus to higher education. She loves collaborating with others to be a disruptor in the education industry, creating and delivering programs that are unlike others — all while building a better future for her clients and students.
When she's not working, you can find her in and around Washington, D.C., hiking on local trails, off-roading in the forest in her Jeep, or reading a good book with a homemade iced white chocolate mocha in hand (usually accompanied by her three dogs and three cats).
Alexandra Tapia is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
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