Public administration is an exciting and rewarding career for those who want to work where public policy transforms into the vital services governments provide citizens. It’s a career that is available in a variety of fields across all levels of government, as well as with nonprofit agencies.
It’s also a career that keeps evolving. In addition to strong skills in traditional areas such as budgeting and communication, public administrators must also focus on new ways to make public services more efficient, including the use of advanced technology and public-private partnerships. Leaders of public agencies also work to diversify the public workforce so it reflects the population it serves.
A variety of educational paths can lead to a public administrator career. One proven pathway involves earning an online Master of Arts in Public Administration. Graduates leave the programs prepared with the skills needed to excel in public service careers. It’s a field that attracts those with a combination of leadership abilities and a desire to focus their careers on helping others.
Demand for Public Administrators
The term “public administrator” applies to anyone who has a management or leadership role at a local, state, or federal government agency. It also applies to those who manage non-profit organizations. It’s an area of the economy where career opportunities are booming.
Some of the most in-demand and best-paying public administration jobs include executive director at a non-profit and public relations and fundraising managers. LinkedIn recently published a list of some of the best public administration jobs, as well as the associated salaries (based on a national average).
- Public health manager ($86,261)
- Urban planner ($65,763)
- Training specialist ($57,198)
- Auditor ($57,339)
- Education director ($61,885)
- Data scientist ($124,074)
Common Duties in Public Administration Jobs
Public administrators focus on making public services as beneficial as possible to taxpayers or the clients of non-profit agencies. They can work in everything from food programs and community centers to transportation departments and a county clerk’s office. No matter where they work, public administrators must deal with certain common issues.
Budgeting and Financial Management
Whether they lead an entire agency or one department, public administrators must manage budgets and ensure public dollars are spent to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. This area of the job is especially difficult during challenging economic times, requiring public administrators to develop expertise in public budgeting.
Policy Development and Implementation
Public administrators develop and implement policies and programs to address social, economic, and political issues. Once a program is in place, administrators provide oversight and also analyze the effectiveness of the program to ensure they meet the intended goals.
Human Resource Management and Communication
Public administrators provide input into the hiring and training of employees in government agencies, especially those in key positions. They also manage communication about public policy programs both within the agency and to the public.
Public administrators must ensure the operations they oversee remain in compliance with often complex government regulations. They also coordinate compliance and other efforts with other government departments, ensuring that citizens receive the best services possible.
Recent Trends in Public Administration
Public administration has evolved over the years into its current focus on public policy. One of the biggest trends in public administration includes public-private partnerships that allow public agencies to partner with private businesses to better deliver public services.
The World Bank supports these partnerships. Public-private partnerships are used worldwide for projects ranging from improving water supply, safety and accessibility in Asian countries, and developing the inland waterways transportation system in Vietnam. In the United States, public-private partnerships have worked on a variety of projects, including improving parks, operating a tollway in Indiana, and providing education infrastructure.
Many public administration trends have followed current trends in the private sector. They include using advanced technology to make operations more efficient and better engage citizens. Many oversee projects that are part of “smart cities,” including the use of connected devices to collect data on everything from traffic patterns to garbage pickup. Administrators then use the data to improve services.
Public administrators have renewed focus in recent years on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the government sector workforce, especially in the ranks of management where women and people of color have historically been underrepresented. Many government agencies have led the way in making sustainability and resilience a part of standard agency or company policy.
Touro University Worldwide’s MPA Program
The MPA program from Touro University Worldwide offers the skills needed to excel in a public service-oriented career. Students in the program learn about management topics such as human capital and financial management and how they relate specifically to government and nonprofit organizations. Other topics covered by courses in the MPA program include:
- Public policy analysis
- Organizational behavior
- Law and public policy
- Public budgeting
- Human resources management
- Performance assessment
- Public administration in a multicultural society
For those who intend to use the knowledge and skills learned in a graduate program to help others, the online TUW Master of Public Administration program offers a flexible, affordable educational path to achieve their career goals.