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Understanding the Importance of CAI Designations

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) offers different designations for community association managers. Read here to learn more about them.
Jennifer Harvey | May 25, 2024 | 4 min read
Understanding the Importance of CAI Designations

As an association board member, you are always looking for the best for your community. The best landscaper, the best value, the best community event ideas, and the best community manager, of course!

A great community manager will be an expert in the industry. But how do you spot great managers? By their CAI designations. 

The Community Association Institute (CAI) is a professional organization that provides education and resources to community association board members and property managers. It is a leading authority on community association management.

Earning a CAI designation is not easy. Community managers must complete extensive coursework and pass a rigorous exam. They must also maintain their designation by completing continuing education requirements.  

The Different Types of CAI Designations 

CAI offers several different designations, each with specific requirements and focus, but all require ongoing education, exams, and years of experience.  

Each designation represents a higher level of expertise and commitment to the profession. Board members should look for these credentials when hiring a property manager, as they indicate a high level of knowledge and experience. 

  • Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) 

The Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) is the most widely-recognized CAI designation. To earn the CMCA credential, candidates must successfully complete twelve (12) hours of coursework (M100) as well as a comprehensive examination covering all aspects of community association management such as amenity management, the legal structure of associations, insurance, governance, and ethics. 

The AMS® designation is a step above the CMCA(r) and shows that the manager has several years of experience in addition to their CMCA.  To earn the AMS®, candidates must complete the initial 12 credit hours for their CMCA, pass the CMCA exam plus have at least two years of experience, and complete at least two additional M-200 level courses (M-201 - M-206). 

The LSM® credential is reserved for those CAMs with at least five (5) years of experience managing large-scale communities of 1,000 units or more and an annual budget of $2 million or more. To earn the certification, candidates. must also complete four courses covering various aspects of large-scale community management as well as an exam

The PCAM® is CAI's highest professional individual recognition, earned by only 1% of all CAMs nationwide. It is the highest level of professional achievement in community association management. To qualify, candidates must have at least five years of full-time experience managing community associations and complete a rigorous application process that includes a case study.

Significance of CAI Designations 

These are just some of the different designations that CAMs can have. When you're looking for a property manager, be sure to ask about their credentials and experience to ensure you're getting the best possible service for your community. 

A CAI designation is a way for community association managers to show their dedication to the profession and commitment to providing the best possible service to their clients. So, when you see that your property manager has a CAI designation, you can be confident that they are well-qualified to manage your HOA.  

Advantages of Dealing with a Certified Community Manager

Here are some of the benefits of working with a community manager who has a CAI designation: 

  1. They have the knowledge and experience necessary to manage your community effectively 
  2. They are up-to-date on the latest trends in community association management 
  3. They have access to exclusive resources from CAI 
  4. They can provide valuable insights based on their experience managing other communities 

Bottom Line 

When choosing a Community Manager for your HOA, be sure to ask about their professional CAI designation. It's an excellent way to ensure that you work with a qualified and experienced professional. It could make a big difference in the level of service you receive.

Finding a great manager is no problem if your community is managed by RealManage. We only hire the best candidates and then help them pursue their industry designations through our education initiative. Contact us today!

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