Adams Stirling PLC


Professional designations and certifications are offered through the following organizations:

  • California Association of Community Managers (CACM)
  • Community Associations Institute (CAI)
  • Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB)
LSM   Large Scale Manager 
PCAM   Professional Community Association Manager
AMS   Association Management Specialist
AAMC   Accredited Association Management Company
RS   Reserve Specialist
CIRMS   Community Insurance and Risk Management Specialist
MCAM   Master of Community Association Management
CCAM   Certified Community Association Manager
CAFM   Community Association Financial Management
CMCA   Certified Manager of Community Associations

The community management industry has become more sophisticated with more managers earning multiple designations. Unfortunately, style manuals do not agree on how designations should be listed behind a manager's name.

Alphabet Soup. Some authorities, particularly in Europe, advocate listing all degrees and designations in the order earned such as: John Smith, BA, AMS, CCAM, MBA, CMCA, PCAM, CPM, PhD. Doing so provides a history of the person's educational endeavors. However, many view the practice as pretentious. Hence, the trend in the United States is to list only the most advanced degree earned. For example, those who earn a doctorate do not list their high school diploma, undergraduate and graduate degrees: John Smith, HS, BA, MA, PhD. Instead, they simply sign their name, John Smith, PhD.

No Periods. The trend is also away from putting periods behind the degree's initials so it becomes John Smith, MBA not John Smith, M.B.A. Even the cherished "Ph.D." is increasingly used without periods: John Smith, PhD.

Highest One Earned. These same rules apply to manager designations. If a manager earns multiple designations from a single organization, only the most advanced one is used. For example, if a manager earns both the AMS and PCAM designations from CAI, only the highest one is used: John Smith, PCAM. The same rule applies to certifications from the California Association of Community Managers. If a manager earns a CCAM and an MCAM, only the MCAM is used since it is more advanced and requires a CCAM as a precursor. Accordingly, it would be John Smith, MCAM not John Smith, MCAM, CCAM.

Multiple Organizations. It gets tricky when a manager earns designations from two or more certifying organizations. Which one is listed first--designations from the Community Associations Institute or those from the California Association of Community Managers? Is it John Smith, PCAM, CCAM or John Smith, CCAM, PCAM? Or do you keep one and drop the other?

Most Advanced First. The rule of thumb is to list the most advanced/prestigious one first. Is the CCAM more prestigious because it is specific to California or the PCAM because it crosses state lines? Managers will have to decide for themselves which order to use.

Specialty Certifications. CAI offers specialty designations such as the LSM, CIRMS, and RS. Because LSM is a specialty designation, a manager could include the specialty along with the PCAM (John Smith, LSM, PCAM).

Recommendation: Boards should look for professional designations when hiring a manager. They show that a manager has achieved certain levels of training in the management of common interest developments. If the manager is an employee of the association, boards should encourage and pay for the continuing education of their managers. It is worth the cost because knowledgeable managers help steer their associations through the maze of regulatory compliance thereby reducing potential liability and making it easier for volunteer directors to meet their fiduciary duties.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC