How to Become a Social and Community Service Manager

A community service manager addresses a team of volunteers outside.

Communities need public health experts to navigate the balance between compassion and action. The groundwork may begin with social workers and counselors, but social and community service managers have the problem-solving, critical thinking and people skills to oversee and direct activities.

Individuals can launch their social services career with a bachelor’s degree, but having years of hands-on experience for a managerial role is also important. That’s because their duties can include financial, administrative, analytical and strategic tasks.

Those who are currently working in the social services field and want to boost their career should consider pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with an emphasis on social and behavioral sciences.

What Does a Social and Community Service Manager Do?

The duties of a social and community service manager may vary slightly by organization, but fundamentally these professionals work to solve problems plaguing communities and individuals. For example, they may work on initiatives for the homeless, offer suggestions on new veteran programs or write grant proposals. Other duties may include the following:

  • Helping veterans, older adults or those with substance abuse challenges
  • Suggesting, planning and implementing programs for various demographics
  • Demonstrating the effectiveness of their organizations’ programs by collecting and reviewing data
  • Overseeing administrative procedures
  • Evaluating volunteer activities
  • Training and directing staff members

Some managers work with government officials to advocate for change. They may typically present program information to organizational leaders or stakeholders so that outreach activities can continue.

Steps to Become a Social and Community Service Manager

The road to become a social and community service manager involves a combination of education and work experience.

1. Earn an Advanced Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and community service managers often need at least a bachelor’s degree, along with work experience. The most common fields of study are public policy, education and social services.

In some instances, employers seek candidates with a master’s degree, such as an MPH. In an MPH program, students build leadership and project management skills and learn advanced public health knowledge. This graduate degree is suitable for prospective managers because public health is a broad field that focuses on improving the lives of populations and protecting the health and safety of others.

An MPH prepares individuals to work in fields such as transportation, education, nutrition and housing. With a master’s degree, managers are prepared to pursue senior roles, including health services administrator or regulatory specialist.

2. Gain Work Experience

Social and community service managers should have experience in real-world settings. Ideally at least five years of experience is needed for managerial roles.

Individuals can gain experience working as counselors or social workers. These opportunities help managers communicate with clients, understand the resource referral process and learn how to work in a collaborative environment.

Another option is to intern at social service organizations during or after college. This will allow students to put their education into practice in real-world settings.

3. Develop Key Skills

Even with some field experience, managers need expertise in overseeing personnel, showing compassion to vulnerable populations and solving problems effectively. Another common responsibility for managers is determining how and when new programs should launch, so they need excellent analytical skills to evaluate data.

As leaders, they should have superb public speaking and interpersonal skills to reach out to communities and respective government officials. Time management is another key skill to master since these professionals likely juggle many moving parts.

Social and Community Service Manager Salary and Job Outlook?

Social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of $74,200 as of May 2022, according to the BLS. The exact salary that professionals in this position may earn can depend on their geographic location, experience, education and industry. The BLS noted that managers working in community and rehabilitation services earned a median annual salary of $63,400, while those working in local government earned $96,000, the highest median salary.

This career is projected to experience a 9% rise in employment from 2022 to 2023, according to the BLS. The need for experts to assist older adults and individuals seeking treatment for addictive substances impacts the demand.

Prepare for a Career of Service With a Master of Public Health

An MPH program teaches students strategies to address common social issues, such as substance abuse. For individuals who’ve been working in the social service field and would like to expand their knowledge (or salary potential), this could be a next step following years of work experience.

At Augusta University Online, MPH students can choose from three concentrations: Social and Behavioral Sciences, Health Management, and Health Informatics. Prospective social and community service managers have an opportunity to learn through a combination of public health research topics (e.g. behavior and substance abuse) and practical work, specifically internships.

Learn how to elevate your social and community service manager career and expand your knowledge of the social service field with AU Online’s MPH degree.

Recommended Readings
7 Health Informatics Careers for Master of Public Health Graduates
Environmental Scientist: Salary, Job Description and Requirements
3 Public Health Topics for Research

Career Girls, Community Service Manager
Illinois Department of Employment Security, Community Service Managers
Indeed, Jobs You Can Pursue With a Master’s in Public Health (MPH)
Payscale, Average Social or Community Service Manager Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers

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