Public Administration Degrees
A career in public administration could land you in the City Hall planning offices of a major U.S. city or a world away, trying to bring progress and stability to war-torn Afghanistan.
A degree in public administration offers a wide range of career choices. While there are openings that require only a bachelor’s degree, a Master’s in Public Administration is considered by most employers to be the standard level of education for those seeking jobs in public administration.
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More than half of all state and local government jobs were in the public administration field, according to a 2006 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey.
Public Administration Programs Train Civil Servants
An education in public administration jobs is associated first and foremost with those who work for governments. It focuses on “the implementation of public policy” by providing “a field of study preparing persons for such careers,” according to the Random House Dictionary.
Public administration careers aren’t limited to government, though. A public administration degree also can lead to careers in health care administration, non-profit management and human resources management.
Still, whether working for government or not, the focus is always on service, implementing policies and the best way to run programs. Public Administration professionals are among those least focused on the bottom line.
Top Public Administration Degree Jobs in Government
Specific government positions within the public administration field include:
City manager: In a council-manager system of city government, a city manager performs the functions of a mayor, although with a significant difference. City managers are not elected, but rather are appointed by the council. Otherwise, the roles are similar.
It’s one of the most sought-after public administration positions, so while only a bachelor’s degree may be required, most candidates hold a master’s in public administration. Average salaries in 2011 were $78,772, according to Payscale.com.
Budget or financial officer: As the name implies, these positions involve managing an organization’s money. Budget/Financial Officers review and analyze data related to cost estimates and are responsible for preparing budgets for the entire organization and/or a division therein. Accounting, payroll and investments also can fall under this officer’s duties.
Salaries vary based on the size of the organization, but public sector budget officials average around $50,000 annually.
Public affairs director: Public affairs directors are charged with conveying an organization’s message to the public. This is done through a variety of means including press releases, social media and speaking engagements. Public affairs directors often work with an organization’s executives to ensure they stay on topic and present the best image of the group to the public.
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Average salary for an experienced public affairs director was $79,045 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Courses for students seeking a Public Administration degree can include governmental and judicial systems, microeconomics, macroeconomics, accounting, American history and psychology.
Many schools offer courses specifically geared to Public Administration students pursuing careers with non-profit organizations as well.