Community management as career

Understanding your possible career path is vital in any area, but especially in a fast-growing, young industry like the community. It's critical.

Whether you're searching for a new community job, want to specialize, advance your career, or even hire, understanding the following steps may be quite beneficial.

Typical Community Experts

Usually, there are two community paths to consider:

  • Developing as an individual contributor when you advance your talents within your larger field
  • Growing as a leader by focusing on team growth and assisting in the organisation and up-skilling of other contributors.

The community domain, like other domain, recognises the need for a variety of ways to learn and upskill, regardless of whether or not you want to manage other people.

In practise (especially as this sector matures in the community), these routes are frequently combined - you may be largely an Individual contributor, but oversee a team of members.

Still, like with any job, striving for leadership typically requires shifting your attention away from your primary expertise and into team management.

You may develop in a few different aspects as you grow:

  • Basic community management skills and experiences – collecting firsthand knowledge, anecdotes, and validation for (or against) best practises
  • Success in creating or strengthening a certain sort of shared community cornerstone programme is referred to as programme specialisation (like a UGC program, an ambassador program, or a distributed ownership live event program).
  • Internal specialisation entails developing skill or a preference for a certain sub-area of Community Management (such as engagement and content development, scalable moderating, operations/technical implementation, or event management).
  • Formally or informally, you will be in charge of people in your team.
  • A greater number of duties – when you become more efficient or expand your tasks more successfully. Projects having a higher level of responsibility, such as those that demand you to make strategic decisions or deal with higher-value audiences.

Working Solo

Individual contributors can advance in specialisation or just in seniority.

Typical specialities include:

  • Community Engagement is frequently the most junior specialty ('Engagement Specialist' titles sometimes ladder up into Community Management generalist jobs, making this a 'pre-specialization').
  • Community Operations is in charge of managing workflows for community programmes, team processes, technology, and other aspects.
  • Community Material Manager – creates content for a community and pulls content from it, frequently in a curatorial capacity.
  • Community Strategist — focuses on community strategy research and development.

More specific to use-case specialisations include:

  • Internal Community Management — manages a community made up of workers from their organisation.
  • Developer Relations (Dev Rel) – maintains a community of just developers.

Growth while working Solo - While this changes depending on the size and resources of the organisation, the method shown below is a solid starting point.

  • Community Specialist
  • Community Manager
  • Senior Community Manager
  • Director, [Program Specialty]

If this is the case, be clear with your boss or manager that you want to expand your abilities, expertise, or responsibility but do not want to become a people manager. Even if you're not building a leadership skill as a people manager, it's crucial to ask for high-impact, high-visibility initiatives and to develop leadership abilities in how you engage with other teams.


Don't be a robot. Aim to focus strategically on the things that will have the most influence, and to say no to things that will not. Being perceived as strategic rather than an executor might be more beneficial in terms of growth.

Community management as career


Generally, progressing along the leadership route will need a specific degree of experience and seniority.

Expect to spend less time on day-to-day programme execution and more time training and upskilling other team members, as well as positioning your team and strategy within the wider company, as you go up the leadership path.

Typical leadership pathways

  1. Director of Community
  2. Senior Community Manager
  3. Community Leader
  4. Vice President of Community Relations
  5. Director of Community Relations

It's worth emphasising that not every organisation will have overlapping of levelling, especially at stages 3, 4, and 5, and there will almost never be a clear, pre-defined career path. The highest level possible inside community may indicate how much the organisation values community rather than your personal growth potential.

Grow as Community Leader

  • Inform your management that this is a career path you want to follow, and create  opportunities to teach and mentor other coworkers.
  • Pursue training – various online program now provides training for community managements at all stages of their careers, including those aspiring to leadership positions.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to oversee contractors or ambassador programs—this is typically a way for community builders to break into leadership.
  • Concentrate on strategy and operations; they are the abilities most transferable to leadership positions.


Transitioning from "in-the-weeds" labour to more high-level, strategic work is a typical issue for community leaders. While it's critical to have your feet on the ground and understand the jobs of individuals you oversee, mastering this balance can be what distinguishes a successful community leader.

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