Every industry has it's share of professional organizations (also known as industry trade groups or trade associations) that represent the industry. Trade groups go back just about as far in history as we can trace - Medieval cities had Guilds, even ancient Romans had Collegia Opificum, which organized weavers, dyers, shoemakers and other occupational groups. It's natural to seek an organization of your peers that do the same work you do - you can share techniques and learn the latest trends for your industry.
But a modern trade association offers a lot more than that.
Wikipedia offers up a list of some of the common services that trade associations provide:
- Political Advocacy (lobying or raising member awareness of issues that would affect the group)
- Publishing (website, magazine, newsletter, directories)
- Advertising on behalf of the industry (to improve the industry's image, or to help shape the public's opinion on issues)
- Education (certifications, classes, ongoing improvement)
- Events (conferences, networking and charitable events)
- In addition to this list, I would add one other thing that a trade organization provides, and that is a Code of Ethics. A code defines the expectations that govern members to insure they are upholding the ideals and standards of the profession.
In community association management, we have a number of professional trade organizations that provide these services:
The Community Associations Institute is the primary national trade organization for community associations and the companies that serve them in the US. CAI National hosts one major conference per year.
The national arm of the organization primarily manages all of the political advocacy and educational materials. CAI National offers the following certifications for individual community association managers (in escalating order):
- CMCA (Certified Manager of Community Associations)
- AMS (Association Management Specialist)
- PCAM (Professional Community Association Manager)
- LSM (Large Scale Manager)
Additional certifications are offered for vendors working with community associations to indicate that these vendors have been educated in the unique needs of community associations. These include Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC), Reserve Specialists (RS), Community Insurance and Risk Management Specialists (CIRMS), and the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL).
CAI has 70 chapters across the country and internationally. Local chapters are responsible for hosting networking events, local tradeshows, charity events and educational seminars. Local chapters also often post directories for the membership to make it easy to locate and connect with other members in your area. To find your local CAI Chapter, click here. Your local CAI chapter may also be a good resource to help you find job openings or qualified candidates.
IREM is a nationwide organization that serves all kinds of real estate management. While it is not strictly targeted to the community association management industry, IREM offers a large selection of resources that apply to the general aspects of property management.
IREM provides a number of certification credentials. These certifications are particularly useful if you manage a mixed portfolio (rental properties and community associations, for example.) since IREM classes cover a broader area of expertise:
- CPM (Certified Property Manager)
- ARM (Accredited Residential Manager)
With over 80 chapters spanning the globe, you are just about guaranteed to find an IREM chapter in your neck of the woods.
If you are a community association manager in the great state of California, you really do need to be a member of CACM. In addition to the standard benefits of networking, education and events, CACM provides comprehensive support to members in dealing with management issues that specifically affect Californians (drought, wildfires, Davis Stirling Act, etc.) CACM also does a lot to promote the industry and industry certifications to the general public.
CACM offers three tiers of certification for community association managers:
- CCAM (Certified Community Association Manager)
- Specialty Certificate Programs (High Rise, Large Scale, Portfolio Management, New Developments, Age restricted or Commercial & Industrial)
- MCAM (Master of Community Association Management)
- Additionally, CACM offers the ACMF (Accredited Community Management Firm) certification for community association management companies.
If you put aside California, Florida has more Condos and HOAs than every other state in the country, put together. Small wonder, then, that the state has its own professional trade organization. FCAP provides a lot of recruitment assistance, both for managers looking for openings, and for management companies looking for certified managers.
The state of Florida offers a statewide certification program, the Florida Community Association Manager (the state prefers this is abbreviated as CAM, but for clarity, most in the industry call it the FL-CAM, FCAM or CAM-FL). Because of the state sponsored certification program, FCAP does not provide certifications. However, they do provide a large number of training resources to help managers study for the state exam.
Arizona's statewide organization is still ramping up, but they have made some major strides to helping improve service levels for community association management in the state.
AACM offers two standard certifications, one for managers, and one for service providers:
- CAAM (Certified Arizona Association Manager)
- CAASP (Certified Arizona Association Service Provider)
Minnesota is interesting because of the way they combine rental property management with community association management. The shared organization, MHA helps provide a single, shared certification track for all forms of multi-housing developments.
- CRM (Certified Residential Manager)
- CRMT (Certified Residential Maintenance Technician)
Canada's condominium (Strata) market has taken off like wildfire and many organizations have risen to the challenge of helping them get organized. However, to date, only one organization spans the entire country and offers a national certification that applies to all condominium professionals, not just managers, but also lawyers, accountants and engineers.
- ACCI (Associate of the Canadian Condominium Institute)
The condo market down under is thriving and the SCA is the organization that brings Australian strata professionals together. Unique among all of the organizations listed here, the SCA offers a multi-level certification track:
- Level 1 - Accredited Strata Community Manager (ASCM)
- Level 2 - Certified Strata Community Manager (CSCM)
- Level 3 - Practicing Strata Community Manager (PSCM)
- Level 4 - Fellow Strata Community Manager (FSCM)
While I am not personally versed in the professional trade organziations for condo and HOA managers in other states and countries, I would love to hear from you. Is there a trade organization missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below, and I will add it to the list!
* images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons