Public Administrators Career Info

Public administrators are high-level professionals who work for governmental and nonprofit organizations. Learn about educational requirements and useful skills for public administrators, as well as what to expect in terms of employment opportunities and potential earnings.

Career Definition for a Public Administrator

Public administrators implement, oversee, coordinate, and direct the policies and activities of governments at various levels, including local, county, state and federal. They are typically employed in the labor, legal, finance, education and health care fields.

Required Education Graduate and undergraduate degree programs in public policy and administration
Job Skills Communication, leadership, research, problem-solving abilities, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (May 2017)* $64,100 and $115,110 (Social/community service managers and political scientists respectively)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 18% and 3% (Social/community service managers and political scientists respectively)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Some colleges and universities offer undergraduate programs in public policy and administration that can lead to a bachelor's degree. Relevant coursework may include topics in management theories and practice, economics, law and organizational studies. Master of Public Administration programs are also available. Aspiring social and community service managers can pursue bachelor's or master's degrees in health or public administration, business, social work or urban studies,

Skills Required

Public administrators should have good communication, leadership, research and problem-solving abilities. A sense of compassion, as well as decision-making and interpersonal skills, can also be helpful.

Career and Salary Outlook

While employment and salary information specific to public administrators is not available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the organization does provide data for political scientists and social and community service managers. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for community service managers are expected to grow by 18% nationwide between 2016 and 2026, or much faster than average in comparison to all other occupations. On the other hand, employment opportunities for political scientists are projected to increase by 3% over the same period. Social and community service managers earned a median salary of $64,100 in May 2017, while political scientists earned $115,110 the same year (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Top Executives

Top executives can be found in a variety of industries and occupational sectors, and according to the BLS, 50% percent of them worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016. In the public sectors, top executives usually have a bachelor's or master's degree in business or public administration, law or a more broad-based field of study like the liberal arts; corporate executives may have a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

From 2016-2026, top executives across the country will see an 8%, or fast-as-average, growth in employment, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2017, top executives enjoyed median yearly wages of $104,700 (www.bls.gov).

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners, often in conjunction with public administrators or developers, work to create or restore metropolitan and regional areas. A master's degree in urban and regional planning is the usual requirement for pursuing a position; voluntary certifications are available from the American Institute of Certified Planners. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for urban and regional planners are expected to increase by 13% nationwide, or faster than average, between 2016 and 2026. City and regional planners who were employed in May 2017 were paid median yearly salaries of $71,490 (www.bls.gov).


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