Description and Qualifications of a Professional Manager

Professional local government managers can work for any local government but they are usually found in localities that have a council-manager form of government, in which the elected council is responsible for setting policy and providing legislative direction.

They also sometimes work for localities that have a mayor-council form of government, in which the mayor is elected by the community at large and has more responsibility for actually managing the government.

Learn more about the different forms of local government.

Professional managers are hired and supervised by the elected city, town, or county council. They are nonpartisan and nonpolitical.

Managers may have different titles — city manager, town administrator, county executive, to name a few – but they all oversee the day-to-day business of local governments in an ethical, transparent manner.

Qualifications and Experience

Managers usually hold at least a bachelor's degree in public administration, political science, or business.

Many also enter the profession with a master's degree in public administration or a related field. Nearly 67 percent of the managers surveyed by ICMA (International City/County Management Association) in 2006 indicated they had earned a master's degree in public administration, business, or public policy, or other advanced degree.

Managers often begin their careers in policy or administrative positions and then serve as assistant manager before becoming a full manager.

Additional Information