Certified Special District Manager

The Certified Special District Manager (CSDM) is a voluntary designation sought by individuals who strive to be the best. Managers with various academic and professional backgrounds, as well as from all sizes of special districts, can be candidates for the program.

The certification examination and study guide were developed through the participation of over 100 volunteer subject matter experts. Guided by the SDLF Board, Certification Advisory Committee, and under direction by a professional examination development firm, this certification will give successful candidates recognition unmatched by any other program.​

Is it for you?

  • Demonstrates your commitment to the profession and special districts.
  • Makes you stand out as one of the recognized “best in the field.”
  • Reflects achievement and that you have fulfilled a set of standards and requirements.
  • Improves your career opportunities.
  • Improves your overall skills and knowledge.
  • Offers greater professional recognition from peers and agency governing boards.


This certification helps document and recognize a candidate’s knowledge, skills and capabilities as a Certified Special District Manager. The two-hour exam covers all key aspects of special district management, including:

  • Governance
  • Legal Requirements
  • Policy Development
  • Ethics in Public Service
  • Strategic Planning
  • Public & Customer Relations
  • Organization
  • Budget and Finance
  • Personnel and Supervision
  • And more...


To qualify for the examination, a candidate must have worked three out of the last five years in a position of management in a California special district. A total of 400 points is required to qualify for the opportunity to take the examination, to be obtained through professional special district and related work experience, continuing education courses, higher education background and community service.

Download      Renewal Application


Lending Library

SDLF is committed to providing individuals with the tools needed to succeed. The Lending Library offers individuals studying for the Certified Special District Manager CSDM program, free access to the following study materials:

  • Public Personnel Management
  • Handbook of Public Administration
  • Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector
  • Brown Act Compliance Manual
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