Public policy attracts anyone who wants to make a big difference in the world. Our public and private civil institutions are geared toward solving complex social problems ranging from taxation and poverty to industry regulation, and skilled people are needed to keep those organizations functioning. If you are interested in going far in public service, the non-profit sector or even business, a master’s degree in public administration could prepare you to get involved in significant decisions and functions that affect many people’s lives.
Skills and Demand for this Degree
Being able to understand the functions and development of political systems and different forms of government is a big part of many jobs that this degree prepares you for. Some public admin grads need to understand how the non-profit sector works, with special knowledge of the individual issues they hope to work on. They may help coordinate and administer public service programs, both in government and in community programs as well as non-profits. Some graduates with this degree will work in lobbying and consulting, as a campaign staffer or with political activist organizations. These skills can help you prepare for those types of careers.
Budgeting and Financial Analysis: The financial structure of government agencies, non-profit groups and political campaigns determine how they function and whether or not they’re able to accomplish their respective missions effectively. Knowing how to analyze a budget and balance various costs with your organization’s priorities is an essential skill.
Policy and Ethics: Governments and other organizations have been working on the theory and practice of crafting law, regulating economies and administrating all the complex layers of our society for a long time. You need to understand those principles so you can be an ethical and effective administrator, analyst or theorist.
Personnel Management: Much of the challenge of working in public policy comes from getting people to work together effectively. Your ability to manage different personalities and needs within an organizational structure will be a prerequisite to much else you’re trying to accomplish.
Public and Non-profit Management: When the goal of your organization is to achieve a public good rather than turn a profit, you have to manage everything with different priorities in mind. Studying public administration can help you understand the complex issues that charities and government face when trying to address society’s problems.
Written Communication: Whether you’re working for a non-profit, a government agency or some private organization or foundation, people working in public policy cannot avoid the many reports, proposals, grant applications and other documents that help communicate vital ideas throughout various organizations.
Salary and Prospects for Public Administration Master’s Grads
Because of the diversity of public and private sector jobs that public administration prepares you for, salary can differ greatly. Depending on the type of organization you work for and what your level of experience is, your earnings will vary. Technically skilled or complex jobs tend to pay more, both in government and NGOs.
- Executive Director ($69,343)
- Non-Profit Program Coordinator ($41,960)
- Social Services Managers ($57,950)
- Human Resource Managers ($99,180)
- Political Scientist ($107,420)
Jobs for political scientists, other careers for grads with public administration degrees are on a course to grow as fast as, or faster than, demand for other jobs. Grads with these degrees also find their knowledge of policy and ethics, budget analysis and personnel management in demand in business. Whether you’re participating in the public policy sphere from inside government or without, these careers and the skills they represent will see strong growth.
Jennifer Cook writes on higher education, career development and the job market for Strayer University. When she isn’t combing through labor statistics, you’ll find her scooping up the latest news and debating politics online.