Credentials Count: Why Industry Credentials are Important

Community association management is an ever-evolving industry comprised of professionals who rely on a broad array of business expertise, financial management, leadership abilities, customer service aptitude, and social dexterity for success. Any one of those talents can be formidable to master. So, what is the most efficient path to achieving these skills and finding career success? Industry credentials! Collectively, earned industry-related credentials pay educational dividends throughout your career while the knowledge gained benefits communities you support each day.

Community Associations Institute has developed the perfect roadmap to achievement beginning with the M-100 course, which imparts the essential knowledge you need to begin building your career. The intensive program provides a broad overview of community association management for new managers or anyone seeking to further master the basics while also providing the essential step towards earning the CMCA credential, awarded by CAMICB (

Attendees enrolled in the M-100 course are introduced to roles and responsibilities, ethics, governing documents and policies, board meetings, budgets and financials, reserves, assessments, collection policies, risk management, insurance needs, maintenance programs, and contracting among many other industry-focused topics. Earning a passing score on the comprehensive exam at the end of the course is worthy of celebration and opens the door to earning your CMCA certification!

Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA)
Association homeowners and board members, as well as management companies, seek qualified professionals to manage their communities. The Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) is the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of associations (homeowners, condominiums, property owners, etc.) and cooperatives. The CMCA credential recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge required to manage community associations. Once you’ve completed the prerequisites and feel prepared, you can take the exam and, with passing achievement level, earn this certification which signals your dedication to achieving your career goals.

Associate Management Specialist (AMS)
The next step in credentialing success is the Associate Management Specialist (AMS) designation.  Acquiring the Association Management Specialist (AMS) designation demonstrates a higher level of commitment to your career in the industry by expanding your knowledge and expertise.  After obtaining the CMCA and acquiring two years of verified experience, along with the successful completion of an M-200 level course through CAI, you’ll be ready for the application process.  With the addition of this new credential, you have firmly strengthened your commitment to community association management excellence!

The next steps in your journey focus on experience, education, and master what you learn along the way and include CAI’s 200-level courses, networking opportunities, and membership participation. Together, these experiences provide a comprehensive program that enhances your education and deepens your industry relationships while setting the pace for additional achievements.

Professional Association Manager (PCAM)
The Professional Association Manager (PCAM) designation is the highest professional recognition available to managers who specialize in community association management and are known to be the finest, most experienced managers across the nation. With five years of direct community association management experience and completing all six M-200 level courses, you are prepared to test your knowledge and join the elite group of professionals who have earned the PCAM designation. Once your application is approved, you are eligible to undertake the Case Study. While daunting, the Case Study provides an opportunity to showcase mastery of the knowledge, skills, and experience acquired.  It’s also one of the most rewarding challenges you’ll ever tackle!

Large-Scale Manager (LSM)
The final much-admired designation is the Large-Scale Manager (LSM). This specialist designation is available only to experienced large-scale managers who hold an active PCAM designation and fulfill the elevated commitment to the management of large associations. The LSM candidate, in addition to demonstrated experience and requirements, must have at least five years of experience managing a large-scale community and currently be responsible for the day-to-day operation of one. The LSM is designed to allow PCAM designees to specialize within their profession and the unique challenges of managing a large-scale community.

Credentials demonstrate a commitment to your career and the willingness to invest in your future. That’s why communities and employers are more likely to invest in you if you have them!

Credentials can catapult you into a better future and each is an achievement to be celebrated. Don’t delay your success!

By Bernie Guthrie, MBA, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

Bernie is a regional director at FirstService Residential and has been a well-respected community association professional for almost twenty years. As a member of WMCCAI since 2004, she remains active as Member Services council chair, author, lecturer, the 2018 recipient of the President’s Award, and a past board member.

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