Is the Career Outlook Promising for an MPA graduate? In a Word: Yes!

Is the Career Outlook Promising for an MPA Grad? Yes!
The nonprofit sector continues to grow, which is great news for students who graduate with a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA). According to the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey, “50 percent of nonprofits report they anticipate increasing staff size in 2017. This is the third straight year during which a majority of nonprofits reported plans to increase their staff size.” As a point of comparison, that figure was just 22 percent in 2011.

Qualified leaders are in great demand in public, private, not-for-profit, and governmental sectors. Your MPA qualifies you for a number of exciting jobs that could reward you with high pay and personal fulfillment. Although, exactly how much you earn depends on several variables including sector, geographical location, and work experience.

Director Ann Steele at CareersinPublicHealth.net states: “A number of studies have shown that holding an MPA will significantly increase the annual salary you receive for the position that you hold. The maximum earning potential for someone with a bachelor’s degree is around the $50,000 per year mark. For MPA graduates, however, the average salary is $68,000, raising salaries by at least $18,000 per year. As such, while a degree program will usually cost in excess of $20,000 to complete, the return on investment can be rapid.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most promising career paths for public administration graduates, including actual examples taken from online job boards in January 2017 that give you a real-life idea of what’s out there.

What Can I do with an MPA?

Federal Government Positions

Jobs in the federal government are in high demand. Salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors, and your pay can increase fairly quickly if you’ve got strong education and experience. Federal benefits, such as medical insurance, vacation, and retirement, are extremely competitive with, if not superior to, other sectors.

The federal government uses a General Schedule (GS) pay scale that tracks “grades” and “steps” to calculate starting compensation and promotions for over 70 percent of federal civilian employees. MPA graduates typically enter the federal government at GS-9 or GS-11, provided they have relevant work experience. Plug in your city to view the locality-adjusted pay table applicable in your area for 2018.

You can also peruse the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Classification & Qualifications General Schedule to get a sense of the hundreds of different positions available within the federal government and the education and experience requirements. You’ll note that GS-11 research positions require a master’s or equivalent graduate degree.

Current Federal Openings

Here are a couple of current federal vacancies ideally suited to your MPA to inspire you.

Local Government Positions
Use your MPA in your own community by contributing to one of the many essential public services that local governments provide. Public administrators play a critical role in the implementation of programs and delivery of services in health and safety, sanitation, transportation, environmental, and utilities. Professional positions include:

  • City manager
  • Chief administrative officer
  • Staff assistant
  • Program specialist
  • Policy analyst
  • Urban planner

Information and Data Management (IDM) Officer

Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC – $58,638 – $123,234 a year
“IDM work focuses on the management of data, information, and knowledge across all Agency equities in order to increase discoverability, facilitate dissemination, and provide timely and relevant digital intelligence in every directorate and mission center. It covers every aspect of the information lifecycle, including: classification, cataloging, storing, maintaining records and information assets, declassification review, public release, privacy and civil liberties protection, and archiving.”

IDM officers work closely with internal customers to:

  • Formulate search strategies
  • Identify data sources
  • Retrieve digital information
  • Consult on digital data curation processes, procedures, and policies
  • Conduct high-profile information review and release activities

Public Utilities Specialist

Department of Defense, Fort Belvoir, VA – $96,970 – $126,062 a year
Responsible for the following duties:

  • Serves as natural gas industry expert monitoring and analyzing standard industry practices of regulated utilities and natural gas marketers.
  • Provides management with analysis and information on regulated and unregulated pricing to include physical and financial markets.

Recent Openings
Put your leadership and community development skills to work in local government positions such as the following:

Principal Human Resources Analyst

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority – $75,816 – $94,765 a year
Example of duties:

  • “Reviews new positions in anticipation of recruitment to ensure appropriate classification. Based on position-specific information, determines if an existing description can be used for classification.
  • Reviews employees’ request for classification review and makes recommendations. This includes reviewing job questionnaires, conferring with managers and employees, evaluating jobs and preparing written reports on findings. Communicates with stakeholders regarding the result of compensation work.
  • Researches situations as they arise related to aspects of compensation to provide clarity for resolution in consideration of contract provisions, historical practices, similar situations, etc.
  • Develops and documents procedures to streamline processes and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.
    Reviews and recommends salary placements for new hires.”

Abilities required:

  • “Perform complex human resources management work.
  • Compile and analyze complex data.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Handle highly confidential information.
  • Analyze situations, identify problems, and recommend solutions.”

Staff Services Analyst II-Community Health Planner

Napa County, CA, $33.94 – $40.57 an hour
Example of duties:

  • “Perform a variety of responsible and specialized technical staff support services in a County department in such areas as general administration, fiscal, legislative, personnel, program and data processing, and systems analysis.
  • Conduct a variety of special projects and/or surveys involving research, data collection, and analysis.
  • Make recommendations for implementation or development of studies, grants, contracts and proposals.
  • Consult with departmental staff and representatives of other County and/or State offices on programs, projects, or specialized assigned activities.
  • Record, track, monitor and report on Federal and State grant funding monies.”

Abilities required:

  • “Compile and analyze technical and statistical information and data.
  • Understand, interpret and apply ordinances and federal, state, and local legislation.
  • Collect, analyze, interpret and apply data to assigned projects.
  • Develop procedures and operational guidelines.
  • Oversee programs, projects, or assignments.
  • Prepare reports, surveys, and other required material.
  • Make presentations before boards, commissions, and groups.
  • Make accurate statistical and/or mathematical computations.”

Planner I/II/III

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, Juneau, AK – $4,053 – $5,374 a month
Planner I: Research, compile, and analyze data for transportation planning projects; arrange, prepare for, and conduct public meetings; assist in gathering, reporting on, and responding to public comments; and contribute to the development of planning documents.

Planner II: Research, compile and analyze data for planning projects and functions within the region, and generate reports on and design methods for improved department collection of and response to public comment.

Planner III: Designs, sets standards for and carries out planning studies; and assists in the preparation and revision of the Regional multi-year surface transportation, aviation, and ports and harbors improvement programs and plans.

Other Top-paying Careers for MPAs

Bring your leadership, analytical, and administrative skills to one of the following careers that offer public administration graduates the chance to shine while earning a great salary.

Chief Executive:

$181,210 median annual wage 2016 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
As a private-sector CEO, you determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction to your organization within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. This high-tier management position typically directs the financial budget, appoints department heads, and implements policies to ensure continuing operations and increased productivity.

General and Operations Manager:

$99,310 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
The duties and responsibilities of these business managers are very broad and diverse and typically include managing daily operations, formulating policies, and overseeing the use of materials and human resources. Identifying areas in need of cost reduction and monitoring suppliers to ensure that they provide goods or services within budgetary limits are also part of this role.

Public Relations and Fundraising Manager:

$123,360 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
The PR and fundraising manager is responsible for helping not-for-profit organizations maintain a favorable public image while procuring donations. You might help with press interviews, write speeches, and plan and direct all fundraising campaigns. Raising issue awareness for your organization or client is a key component of this function.

Compliance Manager:

$104,970 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
This position is directly responsible for ensuring an organization is in compliance with ethical or regulatory standards. You would maintain documentation of complaints received or investigation outcomes, conduct or direct the internal investigation of compliance issues, file appropriate compliance reports with regulatory agencies, and report violations of compliance or regulatory standards to enforcement agencies as appropriate.

Financial Analyst:

$81,760 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
Employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS: “A growing range of financial products and the need for in-depth knowledge of geographic regions are expected to lead to strong employment growth.”

Financial analysts are found in banks, nonprofit organizations, and large businesses where they provide guidance on investment and spending decisions. They monitor and track the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.

Medical and Health Services Managers:

$96,540 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
Also called healthcare administrators or healthcare executives, these managers direct changes that conform to changes in health care laws, regulations, and technology. You might find this person overseeing staff and planning effective policies for an entire medical facility, a specific department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians.

The BLS reports that employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026 due to the large aging baby-boom population and the increased demand for health care services.

Social and Community Service Managers:

$64,680 median annual wage 2016 (BLS)
You’ll find these positions in not-for-profit, private, and governmental organizations where there’s a need to coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. This is another fast-growing area thanks to “increases in the elderly population and increases in demand for substance abuse treatment and mental health and health-related services,” notes the BLS. Look for employment of social and community service managers to grow approximately 16 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Distinguished MPA Alumni

You’ll be in great company once you earn your graduate degree. Check out these high-profile leaders who also have an MPA:

  • Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Kansas earned an MPA degree from the University of Kansas in 1977.
  • Former Secretary of the U.S. Army, John M. McHugh, earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the State University of New York’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Graduate School of Public Affairs in 1977.
  • General David Petraeus, former Director, US Central Intelligence Agency, received a Master in Public Affairs in 1985 and a PhD in international relations in 1987, both from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

There’s no limit to how you can use your MPA degree to craft an exciting and rewarding career path. Post University’s MPA program emphasizes relevant, career-oriented knowledge and skills. Our practice-based program has been vetted by business and public-sector leaders and is taught by scholar-practitioner faculty with years of real-world experience. They will offer you valuable insights and advice, so you can launch, grow, and transform government programs and nonprofit organizations upon graduation.

Make the world a better place and move forward in your career. Contact us to enroll in our 100 percent online master’s in public administration degree program today. Though you will learn in an interactive environment, you will never be alone at Post University. A dedicated academic success counselor will be available to assist you, answer any questions, and help you overcome any challenges from the moment you enroll.

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