Political Scientist: Profile of a Career in Political Science

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a political scientist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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Political scientists can find careers in various fields, such as law, government administration and education. Entry-level positions generally require at least a bachelor's degree, while more advanced positions often require a master's degree. Job duties depend on the position held, but strong research skills are a plus in any related profession.

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Essential Information

Political scientists research and analyze policy analysis for government agencies, corporations or other organizations. Individuals in this broad profession tend to be specialize in areas like public policy or national elections, among others. Becoming a political scientist usually involves earning a master's or doctoral degree. A bachelor's degree, however, can suffice for some entry-level jobs, such as research assisting.

Required Education Master's or doctoral degree related to political science; bachelor's degree for some entry-level positions
Projected Job Growth -2% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary (2015) $99,730 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Careers in Political Science

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of all political scientists work for the federal government, while a majority of the remainder are employed through scientific research, academic institutions and civic organizations (www.bls.gov). The American Political Science Organization notes that political scientists may also consider careers in law, lobbying, journalism, government administration, diplomacy and education (www.apsanet.org).

Education Requirements for Political Scientists

Aspiring political scientists typically need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for an entry-level position in their field of choice. Students looking to enter advanced positions may earn a master's or doctoral degree. Regardless of the degree, programs may include courses in comparative politics, public policy and statistics. Programs may also offer course credit for students who complete an internship with a government department or political office.

Graduate students may focus most of their studies on independent studies and research projects on topics in political thought, theory and action. In order to do so, they may first take courses that help them to conduct and research trends and patterns.

Salary and Career Information

As of 2015, the BLS reported that political scientists earned a median wage of $99,730 per year. The BLS also notes that political science career opportunities were expected to drop by -2% from 2014-2024. Students who have completed an advanced degree and developed strong quantitative skills may see the best opportunities in the job market.

Although many political scientists work for the federal government, there are other career options available as well, including work in academia or research. Jobs for political scientists are expected to decline, but prospects will be best for those with advanced degrees and specialized skills.

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