What Is the Salary of a Graduate with a Political Science Major?

If the complexities of our government and political system fascinate you, you may want to consider majoring in political science. In addition to pursuing a career in politics and government, a political science degree can prepare you to become a legal assistant or public relations specialist. Read on to learn about potential careers and their average salaries. Schools offering Political Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Opportunities and Salary Info

As a recent college graduate of a political science program, your starting salary will vary depending on the kind of job you choose to pursue. You can find work in public, private and non-profit sectors. A political science program helps you develop strong communication, analytical and administrative skills. You are prepared for a wide array of jobs within government, business, law, campaign management and research. Although a variety of employment opportunities are available for those with an undergraduate degree, some career opportunities in law and government require graduate-level coursework.

According to February 2014 data from PayScale.com, professionals with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science and less than a year of experience earned a median wage of $38,976. Those with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Political Science and less than a year of experience earned a higher median salary of $40,829. Here are just a few examples of job opportunities that you may choose to pursue.

Legal Assistants and Paralegals

Paralegals assist attorneys with preparing paperwork, researching facts for cases and writing reports. You can find job opportunities with corporate legal departments, law firms, government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that paralegals and legal assistants earned an annual average salary of $50,220 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). In addition, PayScale.com reported median salaries of $43,436 for paralegals with a BA degree in political science and $42,865 for those with a BS degree in political science, as of February 2014.

According to the BLS, most of these professionals worked in legal services; this industry paid its paralegals an average wage of $48,170 in May 2012. Software publishers, which only employed 290 of these workers in May 2012, offered the highest average salary of $82,090. California had the highest paralegal and legal assistant employment level and offered one of the highest average salaries of $58,570. The District of Columbia offered the highest average wage of $68,850.

Public Relations Specialists

Also referred to as press secretaries or public affairs specialists, public relations professionals communicate information about their company or organization to the public. With a background in political science, you may handle government relations, political campaigns or represent political interest groups.

Salary Information

The BLS reported that public relations specialists earned an average salary of $61,980 as of May 2012. PayScale.com reported in February 2014 that campaign managers in the 10th-90th percentile earned between $32,489 and $82,022 a year.

The advertising, public relations and related services industry reported the highest number of workers, according to BLS data. Public relations specialists in this industry earned an average wage of $74,720 in May 2012. Specialists who worked for business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations earned an average wage of $63,280. The federal executive branch of the government, which offered these professionals an average wage of $87,990, had the top pay of any industry.

California, which had the highest public relations specialist employment level, offered an average wage of $73,790 in May 2012, the BLS reported. The District of Columbia, which paid these professionals $92,150 a year on average, had the highest pay of any state.

Political Scientists

As a political scientist, you may research political and social trends, such as political relations between the U.S. and other countries, public policy within the U.S., or major decisions made by the Supreme Court. You will also use your analytical skills to assess and conduct public opinion polls, analyze election results, and compile reports to present your opinions and research findings. Some entry-level positions are available if you have a bachelor's degree, others may require a graduate-level degree.

Salary Information

The BLS noted that the average annual salary for political scientists in May 2012 was $104,600. Most of these professionals worked for the federal executive branch of the government where they earned an average wage of $114,320. Scientific research and development services, which employed 810 of these professionals in May 2012, offered an average wage of $107,340.

The District of Columbia had the highest political scientist employment level and also offered the highest average wage of $112,780, according to May 2012 BLS data. Many of these professionals also worked in Virginia and California, where they earned average wages of $111,970 and $91,340, respectively.

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