Careers with a Public Administration College Education
Have you considered a career in the public sector, to help keep the wheels of government turning? Public sector employees arrive at their jobs each day on a mission to carry out programs and perform the services that the government provides. Their work can be uniquely rewarding, allowing them to contribute to society by assisting their fellow citizens both directly and indirectly.
According to the Brookings Institution, one-third of all federal employees will be eligible for retirement by 2025, creating tremendous opportunities for a new generation to enter into public service. Pursuing an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on public administration is a good way to prepare for a public sector job. The broad array of potential careers with a public administration education makes the time and effort to complete the coursework worthwhile for anyone interested in public service.
The Benefits of a Public Administration Program
Through a public administration college education, students obtain valuable expertise to prepare them for careers in public service. Earning a public administration degree allows students to learn about key aspects of working in the public sector, such as:
Federal, state and local government structures and operations
Management of public personnel
Evaluation procedures for public programs
Working toward a public administration degree also enables students to expand their communication skills, prepare to serve in leadership roles and become familiar with ethical considerations related to issues such as the environment, discrimination and workers’ rights.
Rewards of Working in the Public Sector
Working in the public sector offers individuals rewarding professional and personal opportunities they might not otherwise have. For example, a career in the public sector offers the opportunity to:
Make a difference. Choosing a career in the public sector allows professionals to make a meaningful difference in others’ lives. For example, individuals working in the public sector can help alleviate poverty, improve transportation, strengthen public health, ensure public safety or protect the environment.
Develop a specific skill set. Individuals can become skilled in specific aspects of working in the public sector such as public procurement, social services, government regulation, taxation or public finance.
Achieve a work-life balance. Many of the benefits associated with working in the public sector — flexible schedules, holidays, vacation and sick leave — allow individuals to find a good balance between their careers and their personal lives.
Continue professional development. Public sector jobs offer valuable training and professional development opportunities that enhance how employees perform their duties and expand their professional credentials.
Advance along a clear career track. The structure of public sector jobs offers opportunity for career advancement as individuals gain experience and receive training.
Employment benefits are also important considerations when exploring a career in public service. The health insurance, pensions and job stability that employees in the public sector have long enjoyed make public service an appealing career choice.
Careers in Public Administration
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2019, approximately 2.4 million people work in management, business and financial operations positions in federal, state and local government (including employees of government-owned schools and hospitals and the U.S. Postal Service). With that many individuals working in government, career options with a public administration education are unsurprisingly abundant. The following careers are just a few of the options that are particularly suited to graduates of a public administration program:
Public Administrator and Manager
As individuals move up the career ladder and become public administrators and managers, they become responsible for overseeing agency budgets, programs and resource use. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for top executives in government is $110,230.
Public Management Consultant and Analyst
Individuals who work as consultants and analysts in the public sector focus on identifying ways to improve organizational efficiency. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for management analysts in government is $79,720.
Managing projects in the public sector involves overseeing all aspects of a project, from feasibility study to project closeout. According to PayScale, as of January 2021, project managers in government make a median annual salary of about $74,500.
City clerks have important responsibilities in areas such as election administration and the management of public records.According to January 2021 PayScale data, city clerks make a median annual salary of approximately $48,300.
Government contract administrators have responsibilities such as executing contracts, monitoring contractor performance and enforcing contract terms.According to PayScale data from January 2011, government contract managers make a median annual salary of around $62,600.
County assessors typically are charged with assessing the value of property. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for real estate assessors in local government is $53,540.
County Zoning Administrators
Zoning administrators perform duties such as overseeing, enforcing and reviewing exceptions to zoning codes.According to PayScale, as of January 2021, zoning administrators make a median annual salary of approximately $42,500.
Lobbyists advocate for their clients by informing lawmakers about how proposed legislation or regulations will affect certain groups or businesses. Lobbyist salaries can vary widely, but January 2021 PayScale data indicates that lobbyists’ median annual salary is around $74,700.
A career in political activism involves working for a specific cause to effect change. Because political activist careers can take many forms, salaries can vary. According to January 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary of a community organizer is around $40,300, and the median annual salary of a political organizer is around $57,400.
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Individuals who work in regulatory affairs are responsible for ensuring organizations’ compliance with government regulations in areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, pesticides or cosmetics. According to January 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for a regulatory affairs specialist is approximately $68,900.
Pursuing Public Service Careers with a Public Administration Education