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Public Administration Job Outlook

Public administration jobs offer personally and financially rewarding careers in federal, state, and local government, advocacy groups, and non-profit organizations. Virtually all public administration positions in the United States are growing as fast or faster than the national average. Since the number of open positions is limited, individuals with graduate degrees in public administration and relevant work experience have the best opportunities for employment.

The following guide identifies the salary and job outlook for select public service careers. Highlighted opportunities include policy analysis, social advocacy, grantmaking, civic administration, healthcare administration, and city management.

Government Policy Analysts

Policy analysts research social, political, religious, and financial issues and then make recommendations to government entities on how to improve those issues through legislation, regulation, and process controls. Policy analysts may work for private organizations, as identified in the social advocacy section below, or for the government itself.

Analyst salaries can vary depending on the employer and the type of work conducted. For the U.S. government, lower-level employees with graduate degrees earn about $32,000, while higher-level workers with significant experience can make up to $145,000 yearly.

Social Advocates

Social advocacy is the part of public administration that promotes a particular cause, such as human rights, civil liberties, environmental protection, drunk driving prevention, or firearms safety. Social advocates may work for the benefit of a certain group, such as children, older adults, or endangered species, or they may try to implement their policies across a wide range of society. In most instances, social advocacy groups lobby public officials for legislative, financial, and regulatory support for their causes.

Social advocacy employs over 194,000 people and is predicted to grow by 10.3% through 2018. Non-supervisory roles typically earn $32,500 annually, while higher levels of management can earn $77,800 or more. Well-educated employees can frequently make more money in other sectors, but they often choose their social advocacy roles in order to contribute to the community.

Grantmaking and Giving Services

Professionals who work with grantmaking and giving services raise money for worthy causes, distribute existing funds to programs that align with the organization’s mission, or both. They are generally involved with a specific segment, such as health-related research and disease prevention, cultural programs, education of a specific population, or scientific discoveries. They may work for private or public organizations, and they may be dedicated to a single cause or multiple causes.

Grantmaking and giving positions are expected to grow as fast as the national average for all industries. Individuals who do not have supervisory duties earn approximately $45,600 annually. On average, managers within grantmaking and fundraising organizations make about $4 more per hour than their counterparts in other industries. That amount translates into an extra $8,000 per year, bringing the median manager salary up to $99,000.

Civic Officers

Civic and social organizations employ nearly 25% of all advocacy, grantmaking, and civic administration professionals. These organizations range from parent-teacher associations and veterans clubs to scouting groups and alumni associations. Also included in this category are union representatives and tenant/homeowner association officials.

The 414,000 people who work for civic and social organizations tend to earn the lowest wages of all advocacy and grantmaking careers. Non-supervisory personnel typically earn a mid-range of $25,000 while supervisory positions can pay $70,000 or higher.

Health Care Administrator

Health care administrators who work in public administration settings direct the operations, research, communications, and charitable work of large and small organizations. They typically come from a medical background or have experience working in a public policy setting.

While the overall employment of medical and health services managers is predicted to grow faster than the national average, public health care administration positions are likely to see only average growth. Salaries depend on the job responsibilities and the financial strength of the employer. The median annual salary for a health care administrator is $67,000.

City Manager

The city manager is the chief administrative officer of the municipality. He/she controls daily operations of city departments, oversees the hiring and firing of city workers, works with the city council on budgetary issues, and meets with citizens and business interests. City managers are typically appointed instead of elected.

As of 2008, the median salary for a city manager had been $95,000. Pay rates typically depend on the size of the city, the manager’s experience, and the manager’s education. While some cities are willing to hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees, most of these public administration jobs require a master’s degree.

Public administration careers are diverse, as evidenced by the policy, advocacy, grant-making, healthcare, and civic administration profiles presented above. Applicants can choose from a variety of positions to fit their interests and enter the field quickly through entry-level opportunities. Overall, the outlook for public administration jobs is bright.