Public administration careers can be found in a wide variety of organizations that serve the public good at local, state, national and global levels. Whether you pursue an MPA or MPP degree, there are thousands of opportunities for public administration careers in government.
There are also many career options in the “new public sector”: non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work for the public good. National and international nonprofit organizations are another source for careers in public administration.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 90,000 state and local government entities in the nation. These governments employ more than 16 million full-time workers, while the federal government employs an additional 3 million.
A large number of these employees are involved in public administration. A growing trend for outsourcing public services has also created a demand for public administrators in the private sector.
There are nearly 1.4 million nonprofit institutions in the United States alone. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports 43 percent of nonprofit organizations plan to hire new workers in 2012.
Out of 450 organizations that were surveyed, a third plan to add employees who provide public services. A third of the nonprofits also plan to hire fundraisers and program managers.
Here is a sample of 10 occupations that MPA graduates can pursue:
1. Cabinet Members
Several of the current members of the U.S. Cabinet are holders of MPA degrees, including Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services), Shaun Donovan (Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development) and Hilda Solis (Secretary of Labor).
These positions are at the highest level of federal government; there are also PA leadership opportunities within hundreds of federal departments and agencies.
2. City Manager
Cities and towns across the nation need skilled leaders to plan, organize, and implement projects and services for their populations. A city manager serves as the executive officer of a city, reports to the mayor and city council, and is responsible for the administration of all city affairs.
3. County Executive
With budgets in the millions or billions of dollars, counties require public service leaders to oversee their human resource needs, administer funds and manage services. They also participate in land-use planning and in community renewal projects.
4. Financial Manager
Nonprofit organizations and government agencies at all levels require fiscal managers to direct investments and develop long-term strategies for the organization’s financial goals.
5. International Finance
International financial institutions like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank employ individuals with public administration skills to research and implement their programs.
6. National and Local Nonprofits
Nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross and the Boys & Girls Club of America need executive directors and administrators who can plan programs, direct fundraising, oversee public relations and manage community outreach.
7. International Nonprofits
International nonprofit organizations like UNICEF need public administrators to assist with program analysis and deployment.
8. Research Analyst
Nonprofit research centers like the Pew Research Center, the RAND Corporation and The Policy & Research Group employ MPA graduates to conduct public policy, social science and demographic research.
9. Policy Expert
Nonprofit organizations like AARP employ public policy experts to identify policy issues and develop policy reform strategies.
10. Professor of Public Administration
As the demand for MPA degree programs grows, there is also an increasing demand for PA instructors in universities around the world.
To increase the visibility of careers in public service and aid in career development, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) hosts an online career center at PublicServiceCareers.org. Another good source for information about jobs in government is OurPublicService.org.
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