Though the two positions may seem similar at first glance, the day-to-day responsibilities vary greatly between these two jobs. Do you see yourself working in local government someday? If so, it’s important to understand the differences between these two high-power positions and the qualifications required for each.
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City managers, also referred to as the chief executive officer (CEO) or chief administrative officer (CAO), are appointed by the city council. Cities that appoint a manager expect them to take care of daily administrative tasks.
- Supervising day-to-day operations of city staff and departments, like fire and police, parks and recreation and public works.
- Overseeing hiring and firing of city employees
- Preparing and monitoring the city budget
- Handling public relations for the city
- Attending, moderating and running city council meetings (but not voting)
- Average salary across the U.S. for city managers.1
- Master’s Degree in Public Administration.2
Nearly all large U.S. cities have a mayoral system in place. 3 In this system, the mayor represents both the government and the community as a whole. Unlike city managers, mayors are directly elected by voters.
- Presiding over city council
- Signing proclamations for the city
- Making ceremonial appearances
- Voting as a council member (without veto power)
- Implementing legislation passed by the council
- Appointing and removing department heads within city organizations
- Average mayoral salary across the U.S.4
- Master’s Degree in Public Administration
- These requirements vary greatly by city. Some towns only require a high school diploma, but the vast majority of cities want a mayor with an advanced degree.5
Master of Public Administration
- Both jobs benefit from having an MPA
- Two years: the average time it takes to earn an MPA
- Disciplines included in an MPA degree:
- Political science
- Budgeting & finance
- Community relations