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Public Service Professions: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Learn about public service professions. See what common education and training requirements are, and get career and earning prospects to decide if this field is the right one for you.

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Career Definition for Public Servants

A career in public service means you can pick your profession and go to work for a government or non-profit entity. Although public service professions may require a degree in a specific field, such as accounting, nursing or law enforcement, there are often entry-level positions that require minimal formal education. Public service professions can include a wide range of specific job duties. Everything from wildlife management to health maintenance of elderly and children can be found in the career path of those in public service professions.

Education Bachelor's degree relevant to the field of public service
Licensure and Certification Credentialing may be required depending on the chosen career field
Job Skills Interpersonal skills, resource management, technical ability, customer service; specialized skills will depend on the career field
Median Salary (2017) $64,100 (social and community service managers), $33,120 (social and human service assistants)
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 18% (social and community service managers), 16% (social and human service assistants)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A career in public service begins with an education devoted to the specific field of interest. A public health nurse will obtain a nursing degree and a forest ranger may begin with a degree in wildlife management. A career in public service can be administrative or practical, so an advanced degree in public policy administration can be useful, depending on career goals.

Licensing and Certification Requirements

Some jobs within the field of public service may require professional licensing or certification. In those cases, for jobs such as public health nurse, for example, licensing and certification requirements must be met, and these can vary by state or locality, depending on the job.

Skills Required

Skills required in a public service career are the same as those for any of the jobs that make up public service professions. Technical skills, interpersonal relationship skills, and resource management are required to be successful in public servant professions.

Career and Economic Outlook

Median salaries for those pursuing a career in public service management are approximated to be $64,100 in 2017. Public service assistants were expected to have a median salary of $33,120 in the same year. During times of increasing government spending and job creation, the need for public service jobs will increase. Because of the need for public service managers and assistants in every part of the country, opportunities are expected to grow at a pace of 18% and 16%, respectively, from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Alternate Career Options

Careers related to public service include:

High School Counselor

A high school counselor ensures that students, typically in grades 9-12, have the tools and skills they need for academic and social success, as well as whatever their next steps are after high school, from college or vocational training to employment. High school counselors may serve students individually or in groups. He or she may run workshops on preparing for college, substance abuse or bullying. High school counselors also meet with teachers, students, and parents to resolve problems, as needed. High school counselors need a master's degree in school counseling or a closely related field for employment; state licensure or certification is also required. High school counselors can expect 13% job growth from 2016-2026, per the BLS, and they earned median pay of $55,410 in 2017.

Community Health Worker

Community health workers may be employed by public or private companies, including schools, physician's offices or hospitals. This is a career that focuses on outreach and education to specific communities, such as low-income women of age for mammography screening. Community health workers assess community needs, evaluate programs and services, and help people access health care services such as Medicare. Employers typically require at least a high school diploma and commonly provide on-the-job training; some employers may require postsecondary education, such as a certificate or associate's degree. In some cases, voluntary professional certification may be available. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for community health workers is expected to increase 18% from 2016-2026. The median pay for this occupation was $38,370 in 2017, per the BLS.

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