How to Become a Community Program Director


If you want to become a community program director, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you:


Those who work community program directors have a passion for giving back to their community and helping others. They typically have a keen interest in sports, culture and recreational programs, and are educated and experienced in the administration of such programs.  


Community program directors must also have the emotional fortitude and business savvy to endure other struggles, such as budgetary pressures, personnel issues, dealing with facility management, and many others.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started, and eventually succeed in this profession. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Community Program Director

In many cases, you'll need a bachelor’s degree in a field such as management, human services, social work or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates that have earned a master’s degree in one of these areas.


Many employers prefer candidates to have experience working within community program administration at increasing levels of responsibility. If a candidate has relevant experience combined with an undergraduate or master’s degree in one of the above-mentioned fields, the candidate has an excellent chance of earning the job. 





Community Program Director Job Description

Community program directors are responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of sports, social, cultural, educational, seasonal, family support and recreational programs for all residents of a specific community. 


They might be responsible for conducting research in order to determine what services would most benefit their community, and often meet with other directors and business leaders to discuss mutually beneficial projects for their community. 



Typical Job Duties

• Maintain, develop and implement community programs for youth, adults and seniors

• Conduct research as to other programs that have been successfully implemented by communities

• Hire, train and manage program staff, instructors and volunteers

• Develop positive relationships with community groups and local businesses

• Liaise with local schools and other community groups

• Assist in the planning and budgeting processes

• Oversee program registration

• Oversee any marketing and promotional activities



Who Employs Them?

Community program directors are hired by organizations that are involved in the administration of sports, recreational, seasonal, cultural and educational programs for the benefit of local communities. These organizations include:


• Provincial/state sports and recreation associations

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government agencies

• Not-for-profit organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, and Boys and Girls Clubs

• Colleges and universities

• Hospitals and other healthcare facilities

• Tourism and entertainment businesses and organizations

• Shelters





Community Program Director Salary

The salary level of community program directors can vary based on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience in the field, where they work, their specific job responsibilities, and many others.


Community Program Director Salary - Canada (Alberta): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Economic Development Officers occupational group, which includes community program directors, earn an average salary of $102,104. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available for the rest of Canada at the time of writing (May 29, 2019).


Community Program Director Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Social and Community Service Managers occupational group is $57,950 per year.



Skills Needed to Become a Community Program Director

In order to become an effective community program director, you need to posses a certain set of skills.


Listening Skills: Community program directors must be able to listen to the counsel of their staff, program beneficiaries, cooperating agencies, and other stakeholders


Communication Skill: Administering community programs requires strong communication abilities, as ideas and directions must be clearly and effectively communicated to staff and other involved in the program, in order to program objectives to be met.


Time Management Skills: Community program managers must ensure that they effectively use their time, and prioritize work activities in a manner that allows project directives to be completed on schedule.


Critical Thought: it is important that community program directors are able to apply logic and reasoning to various work related issues; decisions based on emotion or a lack of forethought may hurt a project in the short or long term.


Personnel Management: In addition to ensuring projects are administered properly, those working on the project must be motivated, satisfied and see value in their work. It is ultimately the director’s responsibility to ensure workers stay focused and excel.



Job Postings - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "Community Program Director" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Similar Career Guides in Our System

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to this one, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Camp Director

Community Support Director

Director of Volunteer Services

Director of Youth Development

Recreation and Sports Director




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a community program director.


Occupations in Alberta: “Social and Community Service Workers.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

Management: “Social and Community Service Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

Summary Report: “Social and Community Service Managers.” (October 15, 2019). O*NET OnLine website. Retrieved November 6, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Community Program Director

The 'Relevant Areas of Study' section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a community program director. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Areas of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a community program director. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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