City Administrator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotCity administrators have many different tasks. They establish policies for the city and its employees. They develop guidelines to keep the city running smoothly. They also provide support and guidance to council.

dotThe city administrator can also be called the chief administrative officer (CAO), city manager or administrative service manager. Despite the various names, they all do the same things.

The mayor appoints the city administrator. They report to the mayor and the city council and have an office at City Hall. But sometimes, city administrators need to go on the road to supervise various projects.

dotThe normal workweek is 40 hours. However, administrators must attend evening meetings and social functions.

They also participate in seminars and conferences. "City administrators need to pool their resources together. They share and learn from each other," says Dave Morris. He is the executive director of a city administrators' association.

"Having one city administrator per city, this makes for a lonely type of work," Morris adds. "Although you are surrounded by people, no one else has the same functions and responsibilities as you."

dotThe most common work-related illness is fatigue from doing too much. Stress management is more than an asset -- it's a must!

"I need to be ready in cases of emergency," says city administrator Judy Rogers. "What if a strike was declared? Or a water pipe broke? How efficiently the city responds with crews, materials and reinforcements will depend on how quickly things are set up and ready to go."

"They are all dedicated people who hold the city within their hands," says Morris.

dotThere are no major physical requirements for this job. But you may need to move around the city you manage quite a bit. This may be somewhat problematic for people with physical mobility challenges.

At a Glance

Keep the city running smoothly

  • You'll establish policies for the city and its employees
  • The size of the city helps determine the salary
  • A degree in commerce, finance or administration is good