5 Growing Careers in Public Administration

The need for leaders in the public sector continues to grow. Facing tighter budgets and more constituents to serve, government agencies look for the brightest and best candidates they can find to fill top positions.

The competition for such jobs can be fierce. That’s why those who want the best jobs in the public sector often earn a master’s degree in public administration, which prepares them to lead departments or entire organizations in the public and nonprofit sectors.

But what kind of jobs can they expect to get after graduation? The following represent some of the growing career fields for those with a master’s degree in public administration.

Urban and Regional Planner

More people in the United States live in cities than ever before. In fact, cities are no longer just “cities,” they have grown into metropolitan statistical areas that cover entire regions. Urban and regional planners work to plan out that growth in a way that benefits residents and provides them the services they need. This includes everything from extending water and sewer lines to designing roadways that optimize traffic flow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13 percent increase in urban and regional planners by 2026. Median pay for those in the profession was $70,020 in May 2016.

Nonprofit Managers

This is another area of growth. Nonprofits continue to fill a needed role in society, providing vital services in areas that private industry and governments do not. This often involves focusing on programs in low-income communities, although in some cases it involves raising funds and supporting programs that help people with certain diseases or chronic conditions. The BLS lists social and community services managers as a career field that will grow 18 percent by 2026, much faster than the 7 percent average for all occupations. Median pay in this field in May 2016 was $64,680.

City Managers

Because of the regional nature of cities, this also can come under the title of county manager. There are many jobs in the public sector that essentially are chief executive officers of municipal governments or large departments within those governments. They focus on running efficient government services for residents and managing large numbers of employees. The median pay for those who work as executives in government was more than $107,000, according to the BLS, and the number of jobs in the field is expected to grow 8 percent by 2026. This is a job that will require earning a master’s degree.

Chief Financial Officer

As with jobs in the private sector, cash flow is the life’s blood of a nonprofit organization or government agency. Of course, the goal is not to make a profit, but rather to maximize the incoming cash (donations or taxes) and provide the highest level of service possible. A CFO has a challenging and rewarding job working in the public sector. As a member of the senior leadership team, they tend to be well-compensated. The BLS does not break out salaries for those in the public sector, but overall they report that financial managers make well into the six figures and are in high demand (19 percent growth by 2026).

Director of Development

In most nonprofit organizations, someone with this title oversees fundraising. Obviously, this is a key position within a nonprofit. Directors of development work to maintain relationships with donors, as well as to expand the donor base. This challenging job requires skills in written and verbal communication, as well as good “people skills” and expertise in marketing, public relations and business strategy. Most who work in this position report directly to the executive team.

These represent just five of the many areas where a graduate from a master’s degree program in public administration can put their education to work. It’s a growing field that offers many stable and challenging opportunities for those with the right education, skill set and a desire to work in public service.

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