By Tom Engblom, AMS, ARM, CMCA, CPM, PCAM, Community Association Banc
Iam a pound parent of a young vibrant 17-year-old son who is a high school senior with his entire life in front of him! At this juncture, Alexander is facing his course of action selecting his college and career. I remember those days all too well — recalling the nervousness and wondering if I was making the correct career decision as the pressure continued to mount the closer I drew to graduation.
I chose to pursue the work force until the omnipotent age of 21 before college summoned a career in Real Estate. I am in the minority in that I achieved an Associate Degree in Real Estate before learning of an esoteric field in condominium management.
Nevertheless, as days, weeks, and years continued, the vision I saw in the mirror with education was not appealing as I yearned for additional knowledge and resources to reach the PCAM (Pinnacle Career As Manager) in PM (property management or portfolio management, depending on your selected reason or stress level in the industry.)
Lo and Behold, a national organization existed that attracted this eager individual seeking the zenith of condominium management: CAI (Community Associations Institute). “Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a national organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious community associations. For more than 30 years, CAI has been the leader in providing education and resources to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations and the professionals who support them. Membership includes community association volunteer leaders, professional managers, community management firms and other professionals and companies that provide products and services to associations.” As I investigated in greater detail, I became flabbergasted — especially when I learned of the PCAM acronym and designation.
PCAM (Professional Community Association Manager) is not just a designation but the journey of a lifetime. Beginning the adventure requires earning the CMCA certification (Certified Manager of Community Associations) that is administered by Community Associations Institute’s affiliate organization, the National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers (NBC-CAM), highly recommended for all community association managers. It can elevate your credibility and your community association’s confidence in you. Upon completion of the CMCA the next destination is the AMS (Association Management Specialist).
The second level in CAI’s career development track for community association managers is the AMS. The AMS designation demonstrates a higher level of commitment to your career and the community association industry. An AMS designation is recommended for managers who want to enhance their career opportunities by increasing their knowledge and expertise. As individuals yearn for completion of the designation the obstacles become increasingly more difficult, mandating five years of experience no small task to complete. The next hoop, mark to check or goal to achieve is the completion of six courses in detailed specific fields that involve passing tests. One can then see the light at the end of tunnel, bliss, completion of a goal — but not until the ultimate challenge is achieved: the Case Study. The Case Study is an emotional rollercoaster that requires a PCAM candidate to learn every minute detail of the property holding the case study and use knowledge from their years of experience and coursework to create a flowing, understandable document. As the saying goes, the cream rises to the top and so do individuals who challenge themselves to achieve this goal.
On April 22, 2009, at the National Conference in New Orleans, the class of 2009 PCAM candidates, after achieving the aforementioned requirements, will reach the pinnacle of community association management and the pinnacle of a career as manager. The PCAM designation is the highest professional recognition available nationwide to managers who specialize in community association management— a designation second to none and worthwhile in achieving professional respect in the Industry.
Alexander, don’t worry about college or your career path; you will find your way as every PCAM has found theirs!