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MPA Careers

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There was a time when a career in public administration was synonymous with a government career. In the past few decades, the emergence of what has been called the "new public sector" has expanded public service administration to include nonprofits/NGOs, educational institutions and private companies. This means that there are more opportunities than ever before for MPA careers. The challenging problems that are facing the public today require trained professionals who can define and administer the public agenda. Here are a few of the high-profile problems that are being addressed by public administration jobs:

  • Providing basic necessities like food, shelter and medical care to growing populations in developing countries around the world
  • Assessing the effects of global climate change and providing emergency services following natural disasters.
  • Administering programs that support homeland security and fight terrorism.
  • Limiting the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.
  • Providing equal educational opportunities and health care for all segments of the population.
  • Helping former convicts transition into productive lives.

The demand for MPA graduates who can manage human and financial resources, determine policy and administer programs for the public good has never been greater. Examples of MPA jobs in nonprofit organizations include development manager, budget analyst, grant writer, policy analyst and executive director. International MPA jobs include economist, intelligence analyst and public affairs officer. Government jobs include city manager, governor, director of government affairs and special agent. There are samples of the dozens of public service jobs available to MPA graduates. There are also jobs in environmental and natural resource management, health and education. Deciding on a public service career direction can seem overwhelming because there are so many possibilities.



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To help guide their career decisions, MPA graduates should look for issues that they have a passion for, roles they want to play and organizations that they want to work for. A volunteer or paid internship is a good way to gain experience in public service before deciding on a career. Public Service Careers is an excellent source for descriptions and future prospects for MPA jobs. Besides the intangible rewards that come with a career in public service, earning an MPA degree can mean an increase in salary.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median annual earnings for 2010 for a bachelor's degree were $47,973, while the median earnings for a master's were $58,187. Many public administration jobs pay more than the median salary for a master's degree. For example, PayScale reports a very wide range of median salaries for MPA degree holders, all the way up to $125,000/year. Salaries can vary widely depending on organization and level of experience/position.