How Much Competition is there for a Public Administration Career?

A degree in public administration serves to prepare the graduate for work in the higher levels of public service. This kind of degree can be taken in multiple directions in life. A civil servant will work in the public sector, perhaps for the government at either local, state or federal levels, or for non-governmental or nonprofit organizations.

Any of these directions includes a degree of overlap in certain critical areas, so a thorough program in Public Administration has the potential to prepare someone for work in multiple arenas, thereby affording them a degree of flexibility over the course of their career.

Work in the public sector is often appealing because of the variety of career paths and also because these positions can offer a greater level of job security, even during uncertain economic climates, like the one we’re currently in. This means that employment opportunities can be competitive, though the field is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaders of the public sector will be in high demand over the next course of the coming years, a trend that will also hold true in Canada. State and local government, specifically, is one of the largest employers in our economy and work is projected to increase a healthy 8 percent up until 2016. Job growth in other areas of public service will be faster than the average for all other occupations, even.

The public sector is best suited for people who are motivated by the cause their work supports or the services they provide, but not by the financial bottom line. Employees in these fields frequently do work based on the premises of efficiency, economy and equity. People who work in the public sector can work with managing finances, people, or resources and potentially analyzing information.

A Bachelor of Public Administration, or BPA, will provide an understanding of public management and public policy. This degree should be thought of as the minimum requirement for work in this field; although it can help you get your foot in the door by aptly preparing you for an entry level position, most positions within the Public Administration field require at least a Master’s Degree.

The Bachelor of Public Administration traditionally takes four years to complete, similar to other undergraduate programs. Coursework often includes microeconomics, macroeconomics, policy, public finance, ethics, sociology, psychology and leadership classes. Possible careers might include urban planning, city management or public finance, among various other things. Though almost any of these careers that a BPA leads to will require critical thinking, policy analysis as well as a considerable amount of research.

Internships taken on during undergraduate or graduate study can be extremely beneficial for gaining both crucial experience and valuable networking. Perhaps most importantly, these opportunities have the potential to become profitable job opportunities. Internships can be found in a wide array of sectors, like state departments, non-governmental organizations, nonprofit organizations and even the private sector. Internet searches, or leads through your college or university’s career services or student service are good places to start learning about and locating opportunities that suit your area of interest.

A Master’s in Public Administration takes an in-depth look at the principles and roles of public administration, public policy implementation and management, budgeting processes and financial management. This post-graduate degree in Public Administration is often sought after to increase opportunities for advancing into higher level, or management positions within these sectors, as it is not uncommon for such degrees to be required. The degree traditionally takes two years to complete, following the obtainment of a bachelor’s degree. The MPA often expands on important leadership, management, and planning skills, and can often times be specialized—focused on public health, nonprofit management, or public policy, for example—through a particular concentration. The additional education can pave the way for promotions, greater pay and greater responsibilities. A MPA can lead to positions like a Public Relations Director, Policy Analyst, City Manager or Program Evaluation Manager.

This guest post article was written and provided by Lindsey Stinson. Lindsey finished her Bachelor’s in Leadership, online this last fall. She is continuing her education by also pursuing a Masters in Management.

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