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The Alphabet Soup of Credentials
by Candace Lewis, CMCA, AMS, PCAM - Portfolio Manager - Coordinator, Professional Certification & Education

In the professional world, most of us are used to seeing credentials after names, such as MBA, BA, Esq., or M.D.  In the Community Association industry, we have our own set of credentials awarded by the Community Association Institute (CAI) and the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMIB): CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, and AAMC.  What do all these mean and why are they important?

Community Managers aspiring to advance their career should begin obtaining a CMCA® designation, which stands for, Certified Manager of Community Associations®. Having a CMCA® demonstrates a manager's foundational knowledge required to manage a community association. To obtain this, the manager would have completed an in-depth comprehensive training covering the essentials of community management. The designation is awarded only after successfully passing an exam. At the very least, a Board of Directors should either only seek managers with this designation or require the manager obtain one within 12 months of managing their community. 

While a vast majority of managers in the industry stop at the CMCA®, Cardinal Management employs managers who strive to advance their career and education. The next designation our managers seek is the AMS®, or Association Management Specialist® designation, which is a higher level of understanding of their role as a community association manager. The AMS® is obtained after completing at least two additional courses of education and after two years of community association management experience.

The PCAM®, or Professional Community Association Manager®, designation is the highest professional recognition available in our industry. The PCAM® designation is not an easy designation to the obtain. It requires managers to complete five educational courses and to participate in a comprehensive case study examination of a community association. Managers holding this designation demonstrate that they specialize in community association management, have five or more year’s experience in our industry and are leaders in our industry. Board of Directors seek managers with PCAM ® designations if they want someone more experienced who can lead their community with a higher level of management. 

Finally, the AAMC®, or Accredited Association Management Company®, designation is awarded to management companies who specialize in community association management, have at least three years of experience in the community association industry, and employ a staff of at least 50% of managers holding one of the above designations. Cardinal Management has been providing community association management services for 35 years, and has at least 85% of managers designated, with the remaining new recruits currently undertaking the process.

No matter the designation or accreditation, both Cardinal Management Group and our managers comply with the CAI Professional Manager Code of Ethics. We are proud of our managers and will endeavor to hold them to the highest standards and encourage the advancement of their career development path.  Our clients can rest assured our team has the experience and talent to lead their communities.