How to Become a Director of a Community Organization

Learn how to become a director of a community organization. Explore the education requirements, training information and experience required to start a career as a director of a community organization.

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Should I Become a Director of a Community Organization?

Directors of community organizations are responsible for overseeing an organization's activities and staff. The services provided by the organization are designed to aid the public and may involve work with children, the elderly or disenfranchised. The director may also gather information used for fundraising to determine the impact of a community program. The director of a community organization also manages the budget and allocates funds to certain programs. This profession may be especially stressful during times of economic distress.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended for advancement
Degree Field Social work, public administration
Key Skills Analytical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills
Salary (2014) $62,740 (Median salary for social and community service managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job posts (October 2012)

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree

Most organizations seek candidates who have completed a bachelor's degree in social work or public administration. Graduates of these programs are usually familiar with the issues that community groups face and are equipped with the necessary skills to implement changes. Students who want to work in a specific community can attend schools that offer courses tailored to local advocacy. Many colleges offer programs in community organization that emphasize social change through strategic planning.

Success Tip:

  • Volunteer with an organization. Volunteer work is a common way to gain entry working for community organizations. Organizations look highly upon job candidates with volunteer experience, because it establishes reliability and dedication. Volunteer opportunities can be found on the internet and through local publications.

Step 2: Obtain an Entry-Level Position

Entry-level positions at many organizations offer a day-to-day view of operations and provides on-the-job training. Recent graduates are employed as assistants by a number of organizations that advocate for human rights, community action, community development and religion. Before aspiring directors can start gaining management experience, they need to get some experience in a community or social work setting.

Success Tip:

  • Conduct fundraisers. Fundraising is a key component for community organizations to help raise awareness involving community issues. In order to improve their fundraising abilities, students may need to work on their communication, interpersonal and social skills. Fundraising can come in the form of special events, creative campaigns and private donations.

Step 3: Earn Management Experience

Most directors have multiple years of management experience, ranging from grassroots organizing to supervising employees and working with a board of directors. Long-term employment and volunteerism can present leadership opportunities in a variety of capacities. All director positions generally require a considerable amount of experience in group leadership.

Step 4: Consider Earning a Master's Degree

Earning a master's degree may be necessary for some director positions. A master's degree in social work offers advanced training in the field and can provide students with management and leadership training. Students interested in a master's program usually need to have a bachelor's degree and GRE scores before they can enroll in a program. Some of the pertinent courses for community directors in this type of program include nonprofit law, public service foundations and public policy formation.

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