5 Careers in Public Service
Written by: Hilbert College • Nov 7, 2023
5 Careers in Public Service ¶
Anyone looking for fulfilling work would be wise to consider public service. When nonprofit advocacy organization Partnership for Public Service surveyed federal employees in 2021, the employees reported that their jobs enabled them to make a meaningful difference and address serious social and economic issues.
Careers in public service span a range of fields. Exploring examples of public sector careers is a worthwhile exercise for any individual who may be interested in pursuing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.
What Does It Mean to Work in Public Service? ¶
Public sector employees are vital to ensuring that citizens receive an extensive number of critical public services. Whether it’s national defense, education or the preservation of natural resources, public services would not exist without the efforts of dedicated public servants.
The goals of individuals working in public service differ from the goals of those working in the private sector. Public service employees focus on serving citizens. In contrast, most private sector employees pursue profit objectives.
The responsibilities of individuals in public service vary significantly based on their specific roles, but certain responsibilities apply to everyone who works in public service. For example, public servants are responsible for:
- Ensuring they are accountable for their actions
- Remaining responsive to citizens and their needs
- Promoting the common good
Public service employees work in a multitude of work environments, including:
- Traditional office settings
- Outdoor settings
- Health care settings
- Community agencies
- Correctional institutions
Public Service Careers ¶
Looking into specific public service careers can provide a window into the range of options available. The examples below illustrate the wide variety of careers in public service.
Political Scientist ¶
Political scientists use their expertise to conduct research on, analyze information on and make forecasts about political topics. They typically specialize in areas such as foreign relations, national politics or political theory.
Working as a political scientist requires a bachelor’s degree in political science. To advance in their careers, political scientists may need to earn a graduate degree, such as a Master of Public Administration or Master of Public Affairs degree.
Political scientists have a median annual salary of $128,020 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that employment of political scientists will grow 7% between 2022 and 2032, which exceeds the BLS’s projected job growth of 3% for all occupations during that time period.
Law Enforcement Officer ¶
Law enforcement officers are the embodiment of public service. They respond to citizens’ calls, patrol assigned areas, make arrests and testify in court. They also can specialize in an area such as narcotics or serve on special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams.
Working as a law enforcement officer typically requires a high school diploma or the equivalent. Attending a training academy also is usually a job requirement. Some law enforcement departments may require their officers to have bachelor’s degrees in a subject such as criminal justice; others may require a bachelor’s degree to advance in a law enforcement career.
According to the BLS, police and detectives have a median annual salary of $69,160 as of May 2022. The BLS projects 3% job growth in the field between 2022 and 2032, which aligns with BLS projections for 3% job growth across all occupations.
Public Administrator ¶
Public administrators work to bring public services to citizens. This is a public service career in which individuals can directly oversee or manage public programs or support functions such as budgeting or human resources.
Starting a career as a public administrator requires a bachelor’s degree in a field such as public administration or business. A graduate degree in public administration also can be a requirement for certain roles or to advance on the public administration career path.
Salaries for public administrators depend on their specific area of responsibility. For example, according to the BLS, social and community service managers have a median annual salary of $74,240 as of May 2022. The BLS projects 9% employment growth for social and community service managers between 2022 and 2032, which significantly exceeds its 3% growth projection for all occupations.
Medical and Health Services Manager ¶
Medical and health services managers direct all or a portion of a health care organization’s operations. They also manage clinics and nursing homes. Medical and health services managers have responsibilities in areas such as planning, budgeting and records management.
Medical and health services managers usually need to have a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as health administration or business. More advanced positions may require a graduate degree. To ascend to positions in medical and health services management, individuals typically need to have several years of related work experience in health care or administration.
Medical and health services managers have a median annual salary of $104,830 as of May 2022, according to the BLS. The job outlook for the field is bright, with the BLS projecting 28% job growth for this profession between 2022 and 2032.
Policy Analyst ¶
A public service career in policy analysis involves devising or evaluating public policies that address specific issues. Working in the public sector, for nonprofit organizations and for lobbying organizations, policy analysts often specialize in their area of interest, such as education or national defense.
Policy analysts need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field such as political science or public administration. To advance in the field, policy analysts may need to earn a graduate degree in an area such as public administration or public policy.
According to Payscale, policy analysts have a median annual salary of about $63,800 as of October 2023. The BLS includes policy analysts within the category of political scientists, for which it projects 7% job growth between 2022 and 2032.
Benefits of Earning a Master of Public Administration ¶
Completing a Master of Public Administration degree program enables individuals to build expertise in areas related to the efficient and effective administration of public programs. For example, MPA students have the chance to expand their knowledge and skills in program evaluation, policy analysis, budgeting and research methods.
Earning a master’s degree in public administration also enables individuals to:
- Gain advanced expertise to progress into management and leadership roles in public administration
- Pursue a health administration specialization to qualify for health-related roles in areas such as health insurance
- Pursue internships through which they gain experience working directly in public administration
- Complete capstone projects that allow them to apply their expertise to real-world issues
- Establish a network of colleagues who share similar interests
Completing a Master of Public Administration degree program can lead to careers with attractive benefits. In addition to their salaries, employees in the public sector enjoy health insurance, flexible work schedules and pensions. In some cases, government employees can also receive assistance with repaying their student loans.
Public Service Careers: Rewarding Work That Can Make a Difference ¶
The fulfilling work that a career in public service offers makes it a great option for individuals who aspire to make a difference. Working in public service is an opportunity to improve the lives of countless individuals. People who find public service appealing can explore Hilbert College Global’s online Master of Public Administration degree program to learn how it can help them achieve their goals. Offering research-based expertise that is applicable in the real world, the program’s coursework can prepare students to work in any of a variety of public service careers. Embark on the path to public service today.