A degree in Public Administration will prepare you for all sorts of careers across a wide variety of settings. You will be qualified to work as a professional for a range of organizations in the public sector, including being employed as a civil servant in federal, state, or local governments. There are also many opportunities in nonprofit groups, NGOs or nongovernmental organizations, human resources management, and health care.
It has been said that the three Es of public administration are equity, efficiency and economy. A professional may have to deal with all sorts of critical issues, such as improving the quality of response to natural disasters. You may be overseeing expenditure, drafting and implementing government policies, and generally functioning as a steward of the public interest.
Public Administration Degrees
Because of the high standards required of a professional in public administration, even entry-level positions generally require a bachelor’s degree. However, if you want to advance to the higher positions, you will almost certainly need to earn an MPA or Master’s in Public Administration. This takes around two years of graduate study.
A degree program in public administration will include courses in management and organizational theory, public policy formulation, employee relationships, and public finance. The courses will also include training in evaluation and research, development of programs, and implementing and evaluating procedures. The coursework for the MPA will be very rigorous and more specialized, enabling you to focus on a specific aspect, such as political science or policy analysis.
Public Affairs Director
One example of a good position for which these studies will prepare you is that of Public Affairs Director, whose job it is to help organizations, including governments, to promote their public image. It can include directing outreach programs, evaluating promotions for compatibility with organizational goals, and managing public events. The average salary for these positions in 2010 was just over $79,000. Another particularly sought after public administration position is that of City Manager, who is appointed by a city council to run and coordinate the functions of all the city’s departments. The average salary in 2011 was just under $79,000.
Economic Development Director
A particularly interesting position is that of Economic Development Director, which can be found at federal, state, county, or city level of government. The work could involve the creation of an economic development plan, and the presentation of the plan to elected officials at the relevant level; working towards the implementation of the plans and directing their operation; and setting up relationships with other governmental bodies. The salary at the highest level can reach over $98,000.
Foreign Service Officer
If you enjoy traveling, the best place to go for a job might be the US Foreign Service. Foreign Service Officers are based at over 250 US embassies and consulates throughout the world. The Department of State has public administration job opportunities in several categories, including management, finance and accounting, foreign affairs and international policy, or legal and information technology. Other government agencies which offer career opportunities in public administration include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Postal Service. In 2010, the list of the best places for jobs in public administration included the Department of Justice, the Social Security Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the General Services Administration.
These positions are of course highly sought after and there will always be a great deal of competition, so you cannot realistically expect to move straight into a top job immediately after graduation. One thing that is likely to help is finding a good internship, which can be very useful for connections and contacts. In addition, once you have secured your entry-level position, you should aim to shine and make yourself noticed, as public service agencies prefer to promote internally rather than from the private sector. Hard work, a good internship and an MBA degree will give you the best chance of achieving your ambition.
Andrew Deen is a writer that produces content in the field of Public Administration. This article was created to shed light on the possible job opportunities in this area, and to promote further study of this career through a Masters in Public Administration.
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