Community association management is no easy feat. Just ask any of your board members or those from other HOAs and they will tell you the different things they need to be keeping in a delicate balance just to keep the community going.

On one hand, they need to be ensuring that homeowner association fees are collected to get the necessities taken care of. On another, they have to enforce the rules of the community to prevent a drop in the standard of living and to maintain uniformity.

Not to mention trying to keep communication free flowing, handling complaints, preparing for audits, etc. All this is why the conversation of HOA board member certification for HOA, condo, co-op, etc is important.

Community association managers who are certified are empowered to make better decisions for the good of all. Here's a look at some of the certifications, as well as the benefits that come with having them.

Typical HOA Certifications to Be Aware of

Let's begin by taking a look at the kinds of certifications out there.

Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA)

This is pretty much where most community managers will begin their certification paths. It is a Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) accolade. Depending on which organization you talk about, it may also be the equivalent.

Effectively, having this certification means that a community manager has the core set of principles down as far as managing a community responsibly goes. A prerequisite course will be used to make this evaluation.

Certified Community Association Manager (CCAM)

This is not something that everyone looking to get certified in HOA management will need as it is unique to California. It's offered by the California Association of Community Managers (CACM). Some principles will apply specifically to the management of a homeowners association in the western state, and the designation is to ensure that newer managers are aware of and can apply these.

Some of the important elements of the course include understanding what the key roles of a community manager are as well as how state fair housing and federal fair housing regulations will impact HOAs.

Association Management Specialist (AMS)

You can look at this as one of the puzzle pieces at the second level of development for those who are interested in becoming certified community managers. This simply demonstrates that the manager is now progressing along a more advanced line of understanding of HOA management.

Here, you begin to think about the many challenges that the HOA will face, as well as strategic decision-making for the long term. Those who want a specialized skillset or are looking to manage more complex or larger HOAs will want this.

Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM)

You can't get much higher in HOA management certifications than this as it is the highest designation in the industry. Anyone who manages to earn this is both someone who is a practicing professional and someone who has taken part in an intensive course, which forms a part of the certification process.

The issues that this course will address are even more complex issues than the previous entry, extending to both standard residential and mixed-use communities.

Additionally, the process requires that a detailed thesis project be done, which will require the managers to delve into issues that are currently facing real communities.

You may think that's easy to achieve since these are people who should already be practicing professionals but not so. That's because the community exposure required here is typically outside the scope of experience the person would already have.

However, at this level, such persons should be able to apply their existing skills and expertise to the unique situation they now face. About 3,000 managers globally have managed to get their hands on this designation.

Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC)

This one is exclusively for management companies who may be looking to offload some of the responsibility of management from their HOA clients. Here, the designation is an indication that the staff within the company are the ones with the high level of expertise and skills needed to ensure that the community associations they take on can reach the intended levels of success.

Receiving the designation requires the company to have at least a 50% proportion of managers who have accepted professional designations. Additionally, the senior manager in the company must hold a PCAM accreditation.

It stands to reason why there are only about 250 management companies around the world who hold it when you consider the herculean task that businesses must achieve.

Large Scale Manager (LMS)

This designation is only available to PCAM designation holders, and it requires that there is no less than 10 years of professional management experience in the space, successful completion of the education requirements, as well as experience managing a large-scale community.

The actual program will consist of a 16-hour coursework package or attending a large-scale management workshop. For reference, the definition of large scale in the context of the course is as follows:

  1. No less than 1,000 acres or 1,000 units
  2. An annual operation budget of no less than $2 million
  3. A community association that is contiguous and has a full-time manager on site.

What Do Certifications Say?

Certifications in the HOA world say what they do in other industries. It's proof that the holder has the competencies necessary to carry out the intended tasks. In this case, some of the designations go even further since there are practical elements to them.

Advantages of Certification

If the board members themselves are certified, then you can enjoy the following advantages.

Less Need for External Assistance

Since the board members would have exposure to certain concepts and requirements, there's no need to lean on management companies for them.

Better Fulfillment of Obligations

If you're qualified to fulfill your obligations in the HOA, it stands to reason that you would be better able to achieve successful outcomes.

Don't Forget About HOA Software Too!

Apart from ensuring that you or your management company of choice has the right designations, you can make the HOA management process a lot easier with custom software. DoorLoop has an excellent HOA management solution that provides the following:

  1. Free custom website with a resident portal
  2. Accounting features and shareable AP/AR reports
  3. QuickBooks and bank account sync
  4. Unlimited management users
  5. Architectural and maintenance request management
  6. Communication via email, text, phone, and portal messages
  7. Automated payments for rent, amenities, fines, maintenance, etc.

The Bottom Line

Certification requirements will differ based on where you are located. While HOA board members themselves may not need to be certified, doing so improves their ability to manage things without hiring third parties.

Additionally, consider our software solution to streamline the management process even more. Schedule a free demo today for evaluation!

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!