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Public Administration Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Learn how a major in public administration can prepare you for a variety of careers in the public or non-profit sector. Keep reading for information on specific positions, including corresponding job duties and salaries.

What Are Career Options for Public Administration Graduates?

A bachelor's degree in public administration can prepare you for careers in city, county or state governments or for further study. You could be a social and community service manager, or you could look for work in the public sector as a labor relations specialist. Social and community service managers oversee the operations of community organizations and social service projects. This includes working with the community to identify needs, assessing the effect of services, making suggestions for changes and managing budgets. You may also be responsible for obtaining the funds to run projects.

Labor relations specialists work with organizations' or companies' management when drafting work contracts, settling work related grievances and choosing disciplinary actions. They may serve as the connection between management and unions, making sure work policies comply with union agreements. They may also train management on how to handle labor relations. The table below outlines the different careers associated with this major and their requirements.

Social/Community Service Manager Labor Relations Specialist
Degree Required Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Educational Field of Study Social work, urban studies, public administration, or public health Labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, or business
Job Growth (2018-2028) 13%* -8%*
Median Salary (2018) $65,320* $67,790*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect as a Public Administration Major?

A major in public administration can lead to study of several areas, including public policy, public management or non-profit management. Degrees at the undergraduate level are commonly offered as a Bachelor of Public Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration or a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration. Whichever of these you're after, you can expect to complete courses that deal with American politics, policy analysis, budgeting and management techniques. You may be required to complete an internship in public administration, and you may have the opportunity to study abroad.

What Do These Professions Do?

Social and community service managers oversee civic programs that provide the public with important social and community services. As a manager your employees would work directly with the public to provide these essential services, while you would coordinate them and report to the higher ups in the local government. You would also analyze the effectiveness of programs and implement changes if needs be, as well as manage budgets for particular services.

A labor relations specialist is responsible for the preparation of information used in the bargaining, interpretation and administration of contracts. If you pursue a position in labor relations, you may work with individual employees. You would be responsible for analyzing market research and labor needs as well as calculating compensation rates. You may be called upon during a labor dispute, as a liaison between unions and management.

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that social and community service managers made a median annual wage of $63,530 in 2018, and a median hourly wage of $30.54. The BLS projects that the employment outlook for this position will increase 10% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average job growth.

According to the BLS, in 2018, a labor relations specialist could have earned a median of $31.41 an hour, or $65,320 annually (www.bls.gov). Business, labor, professional and political organizations employed 65,460 labor relations specialists in 2018. The site further states that while state governments hired fewer of these professionals, they were paid more, at a median of $50.14 per hour.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree in social work, social workers are trained to help clients with a number of different types of social issues such as overcoming disabilities, coping with emotional and mental illnesses and handling problematic life events. Social and human service assistants may only have a high school diploma but they may help clients and their families get the psychological and rehabilitation support they need. These professionals often work under social workers and other therapist. More on the business side of things, human resources managers are responsible for the recruiting and hiring employees and personnel. They may also serve as the connection between employees and upper management. If interested in this career path you may need to pursue a bachelors degree in human resources.