A career in public administration allows you the chance to effect positive change on a broad scale. It is interesting, challenging, and rewarding work that can offer you long-term satisfaction and a path to career progress. There are many public service careers, from community development and housing authorities to city government and federal agencies. But a public administration background can also serve you in private sector careers. Check out seven career paths you might consider if you have a background in public administration:
As a community organizer, you would be an advocate for an organization or a cause. You might be part of a grassroots effort to place a ballot initiative before voters in an upcoming election. Or you might work at a nonprofit dedicated to serving the disenfranchised. For example, if you worked at a homeless shelter, you would serve the homeless population. You would also coordinate efforts to address the broader issue of homelessness. You would work with local, state, and federal support systems to get clients what they need in the short- and long-term.
Public housing departments need knowledgeable and competent people to make sure residents receive the housing and services they deserve. As a director of housing, you would plan, direct, monitor, and evaluate property management functions. In addition to managing day-to-day operations, you would also handle budgets, forecasting, and grant writing. And you would need to adhere closely to state and federal regulations, including those administered through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
As the executive director of a nonprofit organization, your role is similar to the CEO of a private or publicly-traded company. You are the chief administrator. Your job would be to provide leadership and strategic insight as you create and implement policies and programs that help fulfill your organization’s mission. You would work closely with your board of directors and internal and external stakeholders, fostering a culture of advocacy, trust, and empathy. And you would be the chief communicator of what your organization does and how well you do it.
As a town or city manager, you are the chief operating officer of community services. You’re in charge of the administrative tasks that keep the city running smoothly. You execute and follow local ordinances and state law and work closely with the city council. You manage budgets, lead staff, and communicate with city residents. From making sure potholes are filled to listening to grievances about what’s wrong with city government, you’re the one in charge of making sure things get done right and community input is heard.
Public policy is the entire system of laws, regulations, and actions that affect public well-being. As an analyst, you would examine existing policy and determine if it aligns with the needs of your constituents. For example, if you worked for the Department of Homeland Security, you might examine immigration policies, analyze existing statutes and their enforcement, and identify areas for improvement. If you worked in climate change, you might conduct feasibility assessments and cost analyses to determine how current policies impact renewable energy and climate technologies.
Understanding public policy and how it interacts with an agency or a business is valuable knowledge that you can turn into a career. With skills in public administration, you can lobby on behalf of governmental agencies, nonprofits, or private companies. Some of the tasks you might perform as a lobbyist are:
The U.S. Department of Foreign Services has more than 270 worldwide locations and needs a robust staff to promote its mission. To become a foreign service officer, you need knowledge, experience, a passion for service, and the ability to meet the requirements of the position. As a first step, you would register for, take, and pass the Foreign Service Officer Test. Among the duties of the office are:
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Are you ready to begin a career in public administration? Claremont Lincoln University (CLU) offers an online Master of Arts in Public Administration (MPA) that can be completed in as few as 13 months. Your coursework will provide you with leadership skills and the ability to understand and engage with diverse groups to enact ethical, equitable, and inclusive policies and practices. CLU offers prospective MPA candidates the opportunity to apply for The Lincoln Institute Fellowship for Ethics and Equity in Public Administration for awards of up to $5,000, making the cost of your MPA even more affordable.