Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They direct and lead staff who provide social services to the public.

Duties

Social and community service managers typically do the following:

  • Work with members of the community and other stakeholders to identify the types of programs and services that are needed
  • Design and oversee programs to meet the needs of the target audience or community
  • Establish methods to gather information about the impact of their programs
  • Supervise staff, such as social workers, who provide services to clients
  • Analyze data to determine the effectiveness of programs
  • Suggest and implement improvements to programs and services
  • Develop and manage budgets for programs and organizations
  • Plan and manage community outreach efforts to advocate for increased awareness of programs
  • Write proposals for social services funding

Social and community service managers work for a variety of social and human service organizations. The organizations may focus on working with a particular demographic, such as children, people who are homeless, older adults, or veterans. Other organizations may focus on helping people with particular challenges, such as mental health needs, chronic hunger, or long-term unemployment.

Social and community service managers are often expected to show that their programs and services are effective. To do so, they collect statistics and other information to evaluate the impact that programs have in their community or on their target audience. They are usually required to report this information to administrators or funders. They may also use evaluations to identify areas that need improvement for programs to be more effective, such as providing mentorship and assessments for their staff.

Although specific job duties of social and community service managers vary based on the size of the organization, most managers must recruit, hire, and train new staff members.

In large agencies, managers tend to have specialized duties. Depending on their position, they may be responsible for running only one program in an organization and reporting  to the agency’s upper management. They usually do not design programs. Instead, they supervise and implement programs set up by administrators, elected officials, or other stakeholders.

In small organizations, social and community managers often have many roles. They represent the organization to the public through speaking engagements or in community-wide committees; they oversee, and execute program implementations; they spend time on administrative tasks, such as managing budgets; and they also help with raising funds and meeting with potential donors.

Work Environment: 

Social and community service managers held about 132,900 jobs in 2012. They work for nonprofit organizations, private for-profit social service companies, and government agencies. Social and community service managers work in a variety of settings, including offices, clinics, hospitals, and shelters.

Some social and community service managers focus on working with a particular demographic, such as children, homeless or elderly people, or veterans; others focus on helping people with particular challenges, such as hunger or joblessness.

The industries that employed the most social and community service managers in 2012 were as follows:

Individual and family services 23%
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 19
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 15
Community and vocational rehabilitation services 10
Nursing and residential care facilities 10

Some aspects of the work, such as fundraising or balancing budgets, may be stressful, particularly during economic downturns.

Work Schedules

Social and community service managers typically work full time.

Education and Training: 

Social and community service managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience. However, many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in social work, urban studies, public administration, or a related field is the minimum requirement. Employers usually require those with a bachelor’s degree to have some work experience as well.

Many employers prefer workers with a master’s degree in social work, public or business administration, public health, or a related field. Coursework in statistics, program management, and policy analysis is considered helpful.

Work Experience

Work experience is often needed to become a social and community service manager and is essential for those wishing to enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree. Workers must demonstrate an ability to lead other workers and manage services and programs. They can get this experience by working as a social worker or in a similar occupation. Lower-level management positions may require only a few years of experience; directors typically have much more experience.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Managers need to understand and evaluate data to provide strategic guidance to their organization. They must be able to monitor and evaluate current programs as well as determine new initiatives.

Communication skills. Working with the community and employees requires effective communication. Managers must be able to speak and write clearly so others can understand them. Public speaking experience is also helpful because they often participate in community outreach.

Interpersonal skills. Social and community service managers should have good interpersonal skills. When speaking with members of their staff or members of the community, they must be tactful and able to explain and discuss all matters related to services that are needed.

Leadership skills. Social and community service managers must motivate and lead their employees and set the overall direction of the program.

Managerial skills. Social and community service managers spend much of their time administering budgets and responding to a variety of issues.

Problem-solving skills. Managers must be able to effectively address client, staff, and agency related issues as they occur.

Time-management skills. Social and community service managers must be able to prioritize and handle numerous tasks for multiple customers, often in a short timeframe.

Pay: 

The median annual wage for social and community service managers was $59,970 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $99,150.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for social and community service managers in the top five industries in which these managers worked were as follows:

State and local government, excluding education
and hospitals
$69,490
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar
organizations
61,500
Individual and family services 55,810
Community and vocational rehabilitation services 54,120
Nursing and residential care facilities 53,090

Social and community service managers typically work full time.

Job Outlook: 

Employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Much of the job growth in this occupation is the result of meeting the needs of an aging population. An increase in the number of older adults will result in a need for more  social services. Elderly people often need services, such as adult day care and meal delivery. Social and community service managers, who administer programs that provide these services, will likely be needed to meet this increased demand. As a result, employment of social and community service managers is expected to grow fastest in industries serving the elderly, such as home health care services and services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

In addition, employment growth is projected as more people seek treatment for their addictions and as illegal drug offenders are increasingly sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, managers who direct treatment programs will be needed.

Although this occupation is projected to have rapid employment growth, gains could be limited by budget cuts in state and local governments. Social and human services rely heavily on government funding, and if funding decreases, services may not grow fast enough to meet demand.

For More Information: 

For more information about social and community service managers, visit

Council on Social Work Education

National Association of Social Workers

Network for Social Work Management

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

Comments

amanilanae says...

I think this is the career path I want to be a part of.

anastasia.macdonald12 says...

I don't hold a degree per se but it is something I would like to explore. Also, I feel like I'm coming into my own with the fantastic insights found on this website!!!

Way to go Molly! :D

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