US Government and Politics
Learn more about the diverse field of U.S. government and politics. See what kind of jobs are available, what kind of education and training they require, and what the career outlook is.
Is U.S. Government and Politics For Me?
The field of U.S. government and politics focuses on the organization of our country's system of laws and governance, along with the history and evolution of political parties. A background in U.S. government and politics can be helpful if you're interested in a career in teaching, government service, law or journalism.
Degree programs in government and politics, political science, governmental studies and U.S. History can typically prepare you for a related career. If you are interested in the role and responsibilities of the press in a democracy, then you might be interested in completing a dual journalism and political science degree. Graduate degree options include programs in law, political science or government.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for lawyers is projected to increase 10% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The employment outlook for teachers varies by the level taught; high school teaching jobs are expected to grow 6%, and postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to grow 19%. Jobs for news correspondents, analysts and reporters are expected to decline significantly from 2012-2022 by 13% (www.bls.gov).
The median annual wage for careers related to U.S. government and politics varies by field. According to the BLS, in 2012, lawyers earned median pay of $113,530, while postsecondary teachers earned $68,970 and high school teachers earned $55,050. Broadcast news analysts earned median pay of $55,380 that same year, per the BLS, and reporters and correspondents earned $35,870.
How Can I Work in U.S. Government and Politics?
Although government and politics degree programs are available at the associate's level, you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree to work in this field. You could pursue a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, which includes core political science courses in American politics, political theory and international relations. You'll also take courses in federal law, world politics and research methods. Combined government and history degrees cover the roots of American government and policy in a series of history courses. You can complete your degree on campus or you can find online political science degree options.
Professional and Graduate Programs
If you want to be a lawyer, you'll need to go to law school and earn a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.). It takes approximately three years to complete a J.D. program, while a typical master's in political science degree will take only two years. Programs that offer dual MA in Political Science and J.D. degrees may allow you use courses to satisfy requirements for both degree programs.
Master's and doctoral degrees in political science or government can be particularly useful if you're interested in working as a professor, researcher or politician. Programs at this level may include courses in national security, public policy, terrorism, public speech writing, parties and campaigns, understanding the media, qualitative methods and bureaucracy.
Licensing and Certification
Depending on the career field chosen, licensing and/or certification may be required. All states require that working attorneys hold a law license. Public school teachers are also typically required to hold state-issued credentials. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state.