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)
  • Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
Manager designations in increasing order of difficulty.
CMCA   Passed CMCA exam and comply with the CMCA Standards of Professional Conduct.
AMS   Passed CMCA exam, completed at least 2 CAI education courses and managed community associations for at least 2 years.
PCAM   Passed CMCA exam, completed 6 education courses, passed the Case Study and managed community associations for at least 5 years.
LSM   Earned PCAM, met educational requirements, managed associations for 10 years, and managed a large-scale association for at least 5 years.
Other Designations
AAMC   Accredited Association Management Company
RS   Reserve Specialist


CCAM Certified Community Association Manager CACM
MCAM Master of Community Association Management CACM
CMCA Certified Manager of Community Associations CAMICB
CPM Certified Property Manager IREM



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: Adam 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: Adam Smith, HS, BA, MA, PhD. Instead, they simply sign their name, Adam Smith, PhD.

No Periods. The trend is also away from putting periods behind the degree's initials so it becomes Adam Smith, MBA not Adam Smith, M.B.A. Even the cherished "Ph.D." is increasingly used without periods: Adam 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, the Community Associations Institute offers two designations (in order from highest to lowest):

PCAM: Professional Community Association Manager
AMS: Association Management Specialist

If a manager earns both designations, only the highest one is used: Adam Smith, PCAM. The same rule apples to certifications from the California Association of Community Managers, which offers the following:

CCAM: Certified Community Association Manager
MCAM: Master of Community Assn Management
Plus various specialty certificates.

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 Adam Smith, MCAM not Adam Smith, MCAM, CCAM.

Specialty Certifications. CAI also offers specialty designations such as:

LSM: Large-Scale Manager
RS: Reserve Specialist

Because LSM is a specialty designation, a manager could include the specialty along with the PCAM (Adam Smith, PCAM, LSM).

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 Adam Smith, PCAM, CCAM or Adam 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? Each manager will have to decide for him/herself which order to use.

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