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4 Top Public Administration Careers

Take a look at some of the most prominent jobs in this important and fast-growing field



By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2012

Public Administration Jobs
Public Administration Jobs

Public administration (PA) professionals implement programs for various organizations that operate in the public sector. The vast majority are civil servants who work for local, state or federal government. Some are employed by nonprofit groups and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Employment in this field is widely varied. It encompasses many human resources, human services and administrative positions; some of the jobs available to PA professionals include auditor, city manager, consumer safety inspector, customs inspector, industrial relations specialist, labor relations specialist and mediator.


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Advancing into the best PA positions typically requires completing a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) program. Coursework is rigorous and specialized, allowing you to concentrate on a specific aspect of the field, such as community development, public health or transportation. Earning your MPA degree takes about two years of post-baccalaureate study.

Some of the top Public Administration jobs include:

1. Economic development director. These PA professionals oversee programs that promote growth and development of a city’s economic base. Similar positions can be found at the county, state and federal level of government.

The specific duties of an economic development director can include creating economic development plans and proposing them to elected officials; organizing and directing such plans once they are implemented; serving as a liaison between elected officials and local business interests, such as chambers of commerce; establishing and maintaining relationships with other government entities; and responding to local citizens when they inquire about economic development activities.

According to PayScale.com, a prominent employment and earnings website, economic development directors earn from $38,527 to $98,259 annually.*

2. Human resources director. PA professionals with this job title plan and direct human resources activities for a company, government body, nonprofit group or other organization. Unlike most public administration positions, human resources directors are found in the private sector as often as the public.

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The tasks assigned to a human resources director can include recruiting, interviewing and selecting job applicants; administering compensation and benefit plans; administering contracts and resolving problems between management and employees; advising management on policy matters like equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment; and representing their company or organization at personnel-related hearings.

PayScale.com estimates that human resources directors earn between $44,828 and $141,714 annually.*

3. Public affairs director. These PA professionals oversee programs that help governments, NGOs and nonprofits protect and strengthen their public image. This can include writing press releases, directing outreach programs and raising funds.

The specific duties of a public affairs director can include establishing and maintaining relationships with clients, partners and the media; writing speeches and arranging interviews; evaluating marketing and promotions programs for compatibility with established goals; and managing events that increase contact between organizations and the public.

PayScale.com estimates that public affairs directors earn from $34,810 and $134,114 annually.*

4. Public relations consultant. PA professionals with this job title provide strategic counsel on community and media relations. They may also serve as an intermediary between organizations and the public.

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The tasks assigned to a public relations consultant can include writing and distributing press releases about an organization’s initiatives and events; creating and managing news conferences and other functions that promote an organization and increase its profile in the community; and working with marketing professionals to create campaigns that are popular with the public.

PayScale.com estimates that public relations consultants earn between $29,388 and $196,500 annually.*

*PayScale.com accessed May 2012


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