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Salary and Career Info for a Masters in Public Administration Degree

Individuals with a public administration degree can find employment as medical and health service managers, political scientists and chief finance officers. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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There are a few career options for those interested in pursuing the educational path of either a Master of Public Administration or a Master of Business Administration with a public administration emphasis. Some of the paths include becoming medical and health service managers, political scientists or chief finance officers. All of these careers have median salaries of over $90,000.

Essential Information

Two degrees are available for students looking to get a master's in public administration. There is the Master of Public Administration and the Master of Business Administration with a public administration emphasis. Both degrees contain coursework in economics and quantitative analysis, management and leadership and, political thought and institutions. The programs prepare individuals to become effective managers and solve problems in both the public and nonprofit sectors.

Career Medical and Health Service Managers Political Scientists Chief Finance Officer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Master's or doctoral degree Bachelor's degree
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% -2% 6% (for all top executives)
Median Salary (2015)* $94,500 $99,730 $102,690

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Medical and Health Services Managers

Some schools offer a health policy and management specialization for students enrolled in a Master of Public Administration program. This program helps prepare public administrators for careers as medical and health services managers. Students need to be adaptable and quick to adjust to change as the health care system changes regularly with new laws.

Medical and health services managers, also known as health care administrators or health care executives, work with medical organizations like hospitals or doctor offices to help supervise and direct business decisions. Administrative duties like directing activities, ordering supplies and ensuring smooth operations are all handled by health services managers. Keeping current and knowledgeable about new medical technology is important for medical managers as these developments can help save lives. These administration workers can work in specific clinical areas like surgery, health information, nursing, therapy or medical records.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $94,500 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Medical managers' wages vary based on the industry in which they are employed. The mean salary for medical managers working in hospitals in 2015 was $114,180, as per BLS statistics, while those employed in physicians' offices earned $102,080 on average. Managers in nursing homes earned a mean salary of $87,970. The overall job growth for medical and health service managers for the decade spanning 2014 to 2024 is 17% as reported by BLS.

Political Scientists

Those interested in jobs with the government are required to possess at least a bachelor's degree, however a master's degree or even a doctorate may be necessary for some positions. Political science graduates who work for the federal government can work as analysts, foreign service officers and international relations specialists.

Political scientists research political issues in international relations, political life, governments and the legal system, among other areas. A bachelor's degree is acceptable in many political science-related fields, although a master's degree may be required for upper-level positions. Because of the field's focus on politics, international politics and the justice system, many political science graduates look for jobs with the federal government, research institutes or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Graduates who hold these positions use their analytical and research skills in roles that affect public policy and raise awareness of issues such as healthcare or crime prevention.

Using these qualitative and quantitative methods, they analyze government structures and policies, looking at cause-and-effect relationships between them. They may study political parties, political structures and globalization. Their analyses help decision makers to consider the possible outcomes of new policies on social groups, economies and environmental issues.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of political scientists is expected to decline by 2% between 2014 and 2024, which is considerably faster than average. As of May 2015, the median annual salary of an employed political scientist was $99,730, higher than the average annual wage across many industries.

Chief Finance Officer

Chief finance officers work alongside other top company executives like presidents, vice presidents, chief operating officers, general managers and chief executive officers. Chief finance officers help organize and achieve an organization's objectives and goals, striving to take the business above and beyond. Students interested in a career as a chief finance officer can pursue a Master of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy programs. While students are not limited to choosing a path of public or nonprofit, it is beneficial and recommended that chief finance officers choose a majority of courses related to the field or industry that most interests them.

Courses in public finance include macroeconomics, urban economics, financing local governments, financing urban governments, international economic development and health economics and payment systems. Students interested in financial management can take courses like government budgeting, real estate finance, governmental accounting, governmental financial condition analysis, performance auditing, municipal finance and financial management for nonprofit companies and organizations.

Working with a company's finances, chief finance officers create an accurate financial report for the public, investors and employees. Top executives are usually charged with the overall accountability and success of their business, so practicing effective managing and strategy implementing is important to success.

In May 2015, the BLS reports that chief executives, including chief finance officers, earned a mean average salary of $185,850. These wages increased or decreased depending on the industry. For example, chief finance officers employed with the securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage industry earned $246,040 annually on average, while those working in state government only made an average of $112,860 yearly. According to BLS, job opportunities for all top executives are expected to grow at a rate of 6% from 2014 to 2024, slightly higher than the national average.

Those pursuing a master's degree in public administration may find themselves pushed towards careers such as medical and health service managers, political scientists, or chief finance officers. Each of these careers utilize the degree's knowledge of management to advise organizations on the best actions for them to take. These actions may include advising a hospital or doctor's business decision as medical and health service manager, studying political situations for government organizations as a political scientist or helping a business achieve its financial goals as a chief finance officer.

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