What can you do with a master’s in public administration? 5 Careers that could help you make an impact

You’re passionate about seeing communities thrive and want to play a part in the process. Leadership positions that could empower you to make a tangible impact are especially appealing to you, but you’re unsure of how to proceed. There are a few options for advancing, and obtaining a master’s in public administration (MPA) could help you get where you want to go.

Some consider an MPA “the MBA of the public sector,” meaning it can help you confidently step into a variety of roles. Professionals with a master’s degree in public administration do everything from overseeing a city’s economic health to improving patient care in the health care industry. While it’s nice to realize you have ample opportunities, you likely want to know exactly what you can expect with an MPA – consider this short list of potential careers as you get you started.

5 MPA jobs you could pursue by advancing your education

Note that this is just a sampling of the roles you could pursue by obtaining a master’s in public administration. That said, you may find yourself reading about your future career.

1. Urban and regional planner

Urban and regional planners oversee land use for communities. They understand local needs and identify solutions for problems related to population growth and environmental issues. Their work involves conducting research as well as meeting with public officials, developers and community members to gather the information required for decision making. Urban and regional planners must have in-depth knowledge of building code and zoning regulations.

Some urban and regional planners specialize in transportation, community development, historic preservation or urban design. They generally work for local governments but can also work in other environments like architectural firms.

While some urban and regional planner positions are open to hiring baccalaureate-qualified candidates, you’ll likely need a master’s degree. Gaining experience is also crucial, possibly through an internship during or following school.

In addition to having a graduate degree and public policy experience, urban and regional planners should have strong decision-making skills. They need to be able to weigh the merits of several different plans to determine what’s best for the community. They must also be able to communicate clearly to write reports and give presentations to public officials, interest groups and community members. Urban and regional planners earn a median annual wage of $73,050.

2. Political scientist

If you spend your free time reading the politics section in various publications, working as a political scientist might be the perfect fit. This path is full of varied opportunities, but all roles focus on researching, analyzing data and developing political theories.

Many political scientists work as aids to help elected officials interpret legislative issues. Others, especially those with doctoral degrees, work as college or university professors. Some political scientists are even commentators, though the majority of them work for the federal government.

Political scientists typically need a graduate-level education to gain the necessary expertise. Most political scientists hold a master’s degree in public administration, public policy or public affairs. Graduate programs help prepare students by equipping them with necessary research, writing, presentation and critical-thinking skills. The median annual salary for these professionals is $117,570.

3. Fundraising manager

If you enjoy socializing and are an avid networker, you could thrive as a fundraising manager – a role in which you’d be able to utilize your people skills nearly every day.

Fundraising managers, who generally work for non-profit organizations, spend their time creating fundraising strategies, applying for grants, meeting with potential donors and overseeing other fundraising staff. They must build rapport with donors and lead plan implementation.

A bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, English or journalism is generally required, although some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Essential classes include business administration, public affairs and public speaking.

Since raising financial resources is so critical to many nonprofit organizations’ overall health, fundraising managers can expect to be generously compensated. Fundraising managers earn a median annual salary of $114,880.

4. Social and community service managers

If you’ve ever considered social work, you may be interested to learn about social and community service managers. Instead of working directly with clients, social and community service managers coordinate and oversee social service programs or community organizations.

Their programs may focus on particular demographic groups like the homeless or military veterans. Alternatively, they may serve those with a specific need like chronic hunger or long-term unemployment.

Not only do social and community service managers need to be empathetic, but they must also be analytical thinkers to be able to determine the effectiveness of their programs.

Most employers require social and community service managers to hold a bachelor’s degree in social work, public administration or business administration. Larger organizations are more likely to hire those with a master’s degree to oversee larger programs or multiple programs. Prior work experience is also essential. Social and community service managers earn a median annual salary of $65,320.

5. Medical and health services managers

Maybe you’re passionate about health care, but you’re more business-minded. A medical and health services manager’s role might pique your interest. These professionals coordinate and direct services for a facility, department or medical practice.

As for specifics, these professionals are involved in monitoring budgets, organizing facility records, staying up to date on current regulations and training staff members while keeping an eye on departmental goals.

Medical and health services managers can also work in a number of more specific roles. They can, for example, be nursing home administrators or health information managers.

These professionals must be detail-oriented as they handle sensitive information and often oversee scheduling and billing. They also need strong leadership skills to help them manage staff and represent the facility at investor meetings or governing boards.

It’s possible to pursue this role with an undergraduate education in health administration, public health, public administration or business administration. But employers often prefer that candidates have a master’s degree.

Keep in mind that most medical and health service managers have experience in health care. This can be clinical experience, like nursing, or administrative experience. Medical and health service earn a median annual salary of $99,730.

Start building a meaningful MPA career

All of the careers above are available to job seekers with a master’s in public administration. And these various MPA jobs can help you make a difference in your community. You can see that furthering your education could pay off in more than one way.

If you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll want to evaluate your options. Discover what University of Massachusetts Global has to offer by visiting the Master of Public Administration program page



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