City Manager: Job Description, Duties and Salary

City managers require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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City managers are in charge of all the operations that keep a city running, as well as implementing policies adopted by the city's elected leaders. The need a degree in public administration or another related area. Salaries vary, based on the size of the community employing them.

Essential Information

City managers oversee all administrative tasks necessary for city operations. Hired by the city council, they supervise city departments, maintain the city budget and represent the municipality in a variety of settings. They research issues important to the city and advise the mayor and council on the best course of action. Most have a bachelor's or master's degree in public administration, business administration or other relevant area of study.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in public administration or other relevant field
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all top executives*
Median Salary (January 2016) $83,775**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Job Description

A city manager is responsible for directing a variety of administrative processes that allow a city to operate. It is their job is to implement and oversee policies crafted by city council. They are also responsible for documenting and presenting the city budget as well as interfacing with the community to develop new programs.

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Job Duties

Depending on the size of the city they work for, the duties of a city manager may vary. Those working for larger municipalities usually have a staff to help them with their workload, while managers of smaller cities perform a wider variety of tasks. Regardless of the size of their city, managers are generally responsible for budget management, department oversight, internal affairs and external relations.

City managers monitor, report on and make recommendations regarding the city budget. They typically work with the mayor and heads of each department to make sure that city finances remain balanced. Managers prepare budget reports and deliver information to city leaders and the public regarding the fiscal state of the municipality.

The leader of each city department reports to the city manager. The oversight of these department heads allows for continuity of standards and policies across all city departments. Departments include parks and recreation, fire, police, water and transportation. In many cases, city managers appoint the head of each department.

City managers direct internal city operations and external relations. Externally, city managers are responsible for hearing the concerns and requests of their community and bringing them to the government. City managers must anticipate municipality needs and create programs to address them. Internally, they are responsible for implementing and overseeing policies to ensure all procedural requirements are followed. Based on research and community insight, they advise the city council and the mayor.


Salaries for city managers vary based on municipality size. According to data collected by PayScale.com, salaries for most city managers ranged from $50,106 - $150,618 annually as of January 2016. Pay also varies based on level of education and years of experience. PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that entry-level city managers earned a median of $71,134, while managers with 10-20 years of experience earned a median salary of $105,193.

City managers oversee the function of all municipal departments, answering to the city council. In addition to a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field, they must have solid leadership, organization and communication skills. Salaries vary,depending on the size of the city, but in 2016, the median was almost $84,000.

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