Public Affairs Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in public affairs. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and potential job growth information. Schools offering Public Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Public Affairs Professional Do?

Public affairs professionals develop and manage programs, policies and protocols for initiatives that serve the public interest. Public affairs covers a broad range of activities in government, business and social services, giving you a wide variety of choices for employment. This article focuses on three specific careers under the public affairs umbrella: social or community service managers, public relations specialists, and budget analysts. Social or community service managers organize programs and resources for the benefit of the community, while public relations specialists maintain a favourable public image for a company or individual. Budget analysts work with private and public organizations to manage their budgets, analyze spending and prepare budget reports.

The following chart is an overview of these career options within public affairs.

Social or Community Service Manager Public Relations Specialist Budget Analyst
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree minimum, master's degree may be required
Education Field of Study Public administration
Urban studies
Social work
Public relations
Communications
Journalism
Finance
Public administration
Business
Key Responsibilities Assess needs of the community
Develop programs and policies that address public need
Supervise staff and budgets
Communicate client's mission and goals to the public
Prepare information for the media
Design outreach and promotional programs
Develop an organization's budget
Monitor program costs and spending
Research and recommend spending requests
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%* 6%* 3%*
Median Salary (2015) $63,530* $56,770*$71,590*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Type of Jobs Can I Get in Public Affairs?

If you choose to work in the government sector, you could become a law enforcement officer, case manager, diplomat or policy analyst. In the business industry, you may serve as a public relations specialist, market researcher, human resources manager, news reporter or marketing executive.

What Education Do I Need?

The education you should pursue will vary by the industry you want to work in and the position you intend to pursue. Entry-level positions may require an associate's or bachelor's degree, whereas higher-level management opportunities may require a graduate degree.

While there are specific degree programs in public affairs, there are many other related programs, including those in human services, public relations, human resources, urban affairs, public policy, criminal justice and public administration. All levels of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered in your field. Depending on your specific discipline and degree level, campus-based and online curriculum delivery formats are available.

Your coursework will be contingent upon your degree program. For example, undergraduate studies in public affairs may cover topics such as urban structure and public management. Your criminal justice program coursework may include educational training on crime theory, corrections and law enforcement. An undergraduate human services degree program may cover social systems and group behavior.

Graduate public administration programs may provide educational training on organizational management and public finance. Your coursework in a public policy program may cover topics such as policy analysis and research design. Graduate studies in public affairs may includes courses in environmental affairs and public management.

What Salary Can I Earn?

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for public relations specialists in 2015 was $56,770. During the same year, the median salary for police detectives and criminal investigators was $77,210. Human resource managers earned $104,440 annually. Your specific salary will vary by your degree type, degree level, work experience and position.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Since public affairs is such a broad field, there are many different careers that you may want to look into that will require similar skills. If you have the mathematical knowledge relevant to budget analysts, consider becoming a cost estimator. After earning a bachelor's degree, these professionals provide estimates regarding the time, money and labor costs of creating a product, providing a service or building a structure. Alternatively, you may want to consider becoming a fundraising manager, another position open to those in possession of a bachelor's degree. Fundraising managers create and execute campaigns designed to earn money and raise awareness of a particular cause. If working directly with the local community is appealing, consider becoming a social worker, although you will need to pursue the proper licensing and many are required to hold a graduate degree in addition to a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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