5 Public Administration Career Options
- Policy Analysis
- Federal Service
- State and Local Government Careers
- Executive Director
- Corporate Roles
What jobs are available with a public administration degree? This field of study is perfect for students who want the stability and benefits of a public service career; many local and federal government employees studied public administration in college. However, public administration also provides a uniquely diverse set of skills. Graduates can move between government, private and non-profit roles with ease.
1. Policy Analysis
Non-profits, academic institutions and government agencies at all levels need smart, motivated policy analysts who combine subject-matter expertise with a big-picture understanding of public policy and administration. For this career path, a dual degree is highly recommended. For example, future healthcare policy analysts should seek out combined MPA/MPH programs to graduate with a master’s in public health and a public administration degree. Other popular dual degree programs include MPA/JD options for future attorneys and MPA/MSW programs for social workers.
2. Federal Service
Even with recent government shutdowns, a federal career remains rewarding and secure. Federal employees enjoy affordable health insurance premiums, yearly raises, substantial paid time off, employer-matched retirement contributions and pensions. Applicants with a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) are often hired with higher starting salaries than other applicants. As CNBC documented, the federal government is one of the most rapidly growing employers in the current job market.
3. State and Local Government Careers
One of the hidden advantages of completing a degree in public administration is the networking opportunities. Many degrees require practicums or internships, meaning graduates will hit the job market with strong resumes and hands-on experience. For exceptional students, internships may lead to full-time job offers after graduation, especially at state and local government agencies that are always looking for new talent. Government jobs in large cities can offer plenty of room for advancement, and the generalist MPA degree allows workers to easily move between departments.
4. Executive Director
A degree in public administration teaches many skills, including accounting, writing and business management. This diverse skill set is perfect for leadership roles at small- to medium-sized non-profit organizations. As the executive director of a local non-profit or the regional director of a local chapter of a national organization, a graduate of a public administration degree program must wear many hats. A typical day might start with answering emails from major donors followed by a mid-morning meeting with government officials and ending with one-on-one coaching sessions with staff. Plus, non-profit leaders must balance day-to-day concerns with long-term mission development and financial stability.
5. Corporate Roles
Although a Master’s in Business Administration is the traditional path to the C-suite, more and more corporations are looking to public administration graduates. Today’s consumers demand corporate responsibility. That means companies need to make build relationships with local community organizations, organize volunteer days for employees and practice environmentalism. Those types of skills aren’t taught in business school. An MPA combines the business knowledge that a corporate role combines with the community focus that a good corporate responsibility officer needs.
Few college programs offer the skills needed to be equally at home leading a non-profit, joining a government agency or working for a corporation. With a degree in public administration, you can enjoy almost any career option.