Public Works Director: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Sep 18, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a public works director. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and employment outlook statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

The requirements to be a public works director vary. A bachelor's degree in public administration, business administration or law may be required, but in some cases applicants will need to have a master's in business administration.

Essential Information

A public works director is responsible for all personnel within a public works department. This role entails various administrative and managerial responsibilities. The minimum education needed to get started in this executive profession can range from a bachelor's degree to a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Required Education Variable; a bachelor's degree in public administration, business administration, liberal arts, or law OR an MBA degree (for top executives)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% (for top executives)
Average Annual Salary (May 2018)* $120,130 (for chief executives in local government)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Works Director Job Description

A public works director supervises the activities of various departments within the public works sector. These departments might include streets and sanitation, parks and grounds, engineering, utilities and equipment maintenance. In general, the director oversees the physical facilities of a community and any services that enable a community to function. A public works director works under the direction of and provides administrative assistance to a city manager.

Public Works Director Duties

One main aspect of a director's work is the ability to develop long-term programs that enhance the community. Additionally, the director is responsible for reviewing the proposals of the public works staff. The director presents the top plans to the appropriate department heads for consideration and then assigns work to the staff once a project has been selected. The director analyzes completed projects against the budget in order to track the group's spending and the success of the project.

Public works directors are responsible for assessing employees and establishing the criteria for which their employees are assessed. Directors continually monitor the progress of their staff, provide guidance for employees who receive low evaluations and, in some cases, provide alternate work plans. Directors may conduct yearly performance reviews, hire employees and handle terminations.

It's also essential that public works directors develop the protocol for hiring outside vendors. They may have to create bid specifications and recommend vendors for projects. Directors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all work is completed properly by contractors, vendors and public works staff members. They may also have to answer questions from the general public and relay all feedback with the utmost tact.

Public Works Director Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for top executives, including public works directors, are expected to increase as fast as the average from 2018-2028 ( In May 2018, the BLS reported that chief executives in the 90th percentile or higher earned $208,000 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $68,360 or less per year.

Average job growth is expected for public works directors from 2018-2028. Applicants will need a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field. Applicants who have experience supervising employees and in the public works field will appeal to potential employers and be able to compete more effectively for job openings.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?