Careers in Public Administration

What an MPA Degree Can Do For You

A wide range of career opportunities are available in public administration and having an MPA clearly elevates the attractiveness of an applicant to the employer for such positions. Gainful employment in the federal government, state and local governments, and non-profits are the common professional routes for those with MPAs. Both federal and state/local government service offer interesting and stimulating work, the psychological and emotional rewards of public service, good entry-level salaries, comprehensive benefit packages, excellent retirement programs for long-term workers, and outstanding opportunities for promotion and advancement. Non-profit entities as well can also provide very satisfying work and healthy levels of financial compensation.

A quick sampling below of the position titles in government and non-profits gives a helpful flavor of the array of employment prospects (some are entry level, others are found in the later stages in a career) that await a skilled and well-trained public administrator:

Federal Government—tax inspector, Treasury Department; special agent, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); consumer safety officer, Food and Drug Administration (FDA); inspector, Homeland Security; intelligence specialist, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); White House advisor; Foreign Service Officer, State Department; staff aide, congressional committee; program officer, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; program analyst, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); management auditor, Department of Labor; researcher/analyst, Congressional Research Service; chief historian, Bureau of Prisons; budget analyst, Social Security Administration; deputy archivist, National Archives and Record Administration; Lieutenant, US Park Police.

State/Local Government—city planner; commissioner, state department of human resources; deputy secretary to the governor; city manager; county manager; labor relations specialist; county purchasing officer; county clerk/recorder; legislative coordinator, mayor’s office; city budget analyst; county treasurer; county CEO; city human resources specialist; captain, city police department; undersheriff, sheriff’s office; state agency employee; city housing administrator; state senior criminologist; city project coordinator; deputy secretary, state department of natural resources; county economic development officer; analyst, water district.

Non-profits—public affairs officer, National Hospital Association; program manager, American Civil Liberties Union; director of political affairs, Telecommunications Industry Association; senior research analyst, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; senior representative/lobbyist, National Publishers Association; director of university advancement, University of the Pacific; research analyst, Catholic Charities; deputy director of communications, Sierra Club; vice president, policy development, Airlines for America; political director, AFL-CIO; director of development, Saint Mary’s Dining Room; vice president of media relations and external affairs, California Chamber of Commerce.

Useful websites for careers in government and non-profits include: