Public Administration Jobs & Career Guide

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Public Administration CareersWhat is A Public Administrator?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local governments employed approximately 8,000,000 people in 2006. Seven out of ten of these workers were employed in local governments.  Jobs in public administration made up more than half of all state and local government jobs. New public administration jobs in state and local governments will be created in response to increasing consumer demand for health services, protective services, and social services.

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While public administration jobs in state and local government are expected to increase, jobs in public administration support services are increasingly being outsourced. Outsourcing of these public administration jobs does not necessarily mean that the overall number of such employment opportunities will decrease, however, because unlike private sector outsourcing, the outsourcing of public administration jobs is often handled by domestic companies that specialize in support services. For the time being, public administration job rates are expected to hold steady.

What is a Public Administration Jobs Responsible for?

Jobs in public administration encompass a wide range of interests and abilities and can provide a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction. The “three E’s” of public administration are economy, efficiency, and equity. People in public administration jobs analyze information, oversee expenditures, draft and implement governmental and public policy, manage people and resources, conduct safety inspections, investigate suspected criminal activity, serve as consultants, and in general act as stewards of the public interest.

People with jobs in public administration deal with critical issues such as helping organizations meet the ever-changing needs of the general population while at the same time attempting to avoid tax increases, implementing information technologies that better connect citizens and their governmental representatives, and improving responses to natural disasters.

Specific public administration job titles include Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Inspector, Auditor, City Manager, Consumer Safety Inspector, County Manager, Criminal Investigator, Customs Inspector, Industrial Relations Specialist, Internal Security Inspector, Labor Management Relations Specialist, Mediator, Private Investigator, and Systems Analyst.

Public Administration Consulting

One of the fastest-growing sources of public administration jobs in recent years has been the consulting field.  People who work as public administration jobs consultants analyze an organization’s operations, make recommendations for increasing efficiency and achieving goals, obtain sources of funding, and assist in developing policy. Consultants work on both short- and long-term projects.

The Foreign Service

Foreign Service Officers promote peace and support prosperity by advancing US interests throughout the world. Foreign Service Officers are installed at more than 250 international consulates, embassies and other diplomatic missions.

Civil Service

The US Department of State provides public administration job opportunities in seven categories: Business Management /Finance/ Economics/Accounting; Engineering; Foreign Affairs and International Policy and Operations; Human Resources/Information Technology/Legal; International and Domestic Security; Office Support Professionals; and Senior Executive Service.

Public Administration Internships

Internships can be an excellent means of entering the public administration job field. Internships provide invaluable experience, networking and learning opportunities. Internships are available at the State Department, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Children’s Defense Fund. Many other public administration job internships are available; the Office of Personnel Management and the Fellows Program provide resources to help people find internships that will lead them to jobs in public administration.

Where Does A  Public Administrator Work?

Public Administration Careers

People with jobs in public administration work for local and state governments, the federal government, educational institutions, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Jobs in public administration are performed both in the United States and abroad. For people who like to travel, public administration jobs in the foreign service are particularly attractive.

Among the many governmental agencies offering opportunities for public administration careers are:

  • the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
  • the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
  • the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC),
  • the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
  • the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),
  • the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC),
  • the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),
  • the Small Business Administration (SBA), and
  • the US Postal Service (USPS).

The Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (ISPPI) publishes an annual ranking of the best places to find jobs in public administration. The list for 2009 includes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Government Accountability Office, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Intelligence Community, the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, the General Services Administration, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Commerce.

The Iraq Transition Assistance Office

The Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) was established in 2007 to organize the US reconstruction operation in Iraq. Its mission is to support the rights of the Iraqi people to govern themselves, protect their country, and re-establish their economy.

Public Administration Jobs in Afghanistan

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are civil-military units deployed throughout Afghanistan to support and enhance the national government by helping to improve security and assist with reconstruction and economic development efforts. PRTs are a key component of the United States’ plan to offer assistance, training, and diplomatic support to Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

What Degree is Required to Become A Public Administrator?

Public administration jobs generally require a master’s degree in Public Administration/ A master’s in Public Policy and Administration is also available. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in public administration will prepare candidates for a leadership or managerial position in federal, state or local government, as well as in non-profit and private organizations.

Obtaining an entry-level public administration job in state or local government agencies generally requires two years of graduate study in urban and regional planning or equivalent work experience, in addition to undergraduate degree. Earning a postgraduate degree is an excellent way to get started in public administration careers.

Bachelor’s in Public Administration

Earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration (BPA) helps prepare prospective candidates for entry-level jobs in public administration. In addition, successful completion of the bachelor’s degree will lay an excellent foundation for continued study in pursuit of public administration jobs. The BPA should be considered the minimum requirement for successful entry into a public administration job.

Master’s in Public Administration

The master’s of public administration (MPA), like the master’s of business administration (MBA) in its field, is widely recognized as the industry standard credential for those seeking public administration careers. Unlike the MBA, the MPA focuses more on ethics and sociological components than focusing solely on profit. Areas of concentration within the MPA include public affairs, public policy, policy analysis, international affairs, constitutional issues, administrative law, governance ethics, and political science.

MPA coursework is intended to help students acquire the necessary knowledge base and critical thinking skills required for public administration jobs. People in public administration jobs need to be able to develop short- and long-term plans and forecasts, devise and implement policy, and manage both people and programs. MPA coursework helps prepare students for public administration careers by exposing them to a wide range of economic, legal, political and social issues within the context of the field.

Public Administrator Job Requirements

Because the field of public administration is so broad, there are no specific certifications for public administration jobs. There are, however, mid-career and executive-level public administration education programs available to meet the needs of those in public administration careers. The two most common are the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP).

The MPA and MPP are considered terminal degrees; people who earn them will most likely neither seek nor require additional education. Earning an MPA or MPP opens doors to a wide variety of career options. Both the MPA and MPP generally require four semesters of coursework, along with a summer internship, although there are some three-semester programs. There are also part-time programs that take longer to complete. Other post-graduate public administration degrees include the Master of Business Administration, Master of Social Work, Master of Public Health, Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Jurisprudence (a legal degree).

Ph.D. programs in public administration focus on training people to conduct high-level research. People earning a Ph.D. in Public Administration may seek jobs with universities, consulting firms, “think tanks” or policy institutes, and other jobs that require such skills. Many Ph.D. programs in public administration do not require students to first earn a Master’s degree.

The Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) is an intensive one-year program designed exclusively for mid-career professionals. The MC/MPA increases the knowledge and skills of established professionals seeking to advance their public service careers or to move from the private sector to a leadership position in either the public or non-profit sectors.

Public Administrator Career Path

People looking for Public Administration Jobs have several careers paths to choose from.

Foreign Service. People in foreign policy public administration jobs serve in embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions. They analyze political and economic events and help American citizens abroad.

Governance. Public administration jobs on this pathway feature elected and appointed officials responsible for making and executing public policy. This pathway includes governors and state legislators, councilpersons and commissioners, as well as the staff members who support them. Careers in this pathway often require working with constituents or interest groups with conflicting goals.

National Security. People entering national security public administration careers help maintain a strong national defense by programming computers, operating nuclear reactors, repairing and maintaining equipment, etc. The military provides training and work experience in these and other fields.

Planning. People with jobs in public administration planning work to develop land-use plans that encompass growth and renewal of urban, suburban and rural communities. Planners promote optimal use of resources for residential, commercial, institutional and recreational purposes.

Public Management. Public administration jobs that focus on public management are found in government agencies and public corporations and trusts. These agencies have strict standards for the management of public resources. Public management careers require budgeting skills, personnel management, procurement, and knowledge of regulations and policies.

Regulation. Regulation pathway public administration jobs suit people who possess technical knowledge about financial, public utility and transportation industries, the environment, and/or technology. Their work includes conducting physical inspections, audits, and investigations.

Revenue and Taxation. Public administration careers along the revenue and taxation pathway feature workers who ensure that governments receive revenues by collecting taxes, conducting audits, monitoring taxes payable and collecting overdue tax dollars.

How Much Money Does a Public Administrator Earn?

Public Administrators earn an average of $94,000 per year. This salary varies widely based on location, degree, experience and position. Recent figures indicate Professional Services and Finance Public Administrators earn approximately $102,000, and Local Government Public Administrators, excluding healthcare and education, earn around $96,000 annually. Education Public Administrators earn on average $90,000. Healthcare Public Administrators can earn over $86,000.

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