Public Administration Careers for MPA Students

When you earn your Master of Public Administration Degree, you can have a world of professional opportunities to pursue. Which direction you choose should really depend on your goals, your personality, and what kind of industry best suits your reasons for wanting a career in public administration.

Working in Government

Some professionals have a desire to work in the government at the city, state, or federal level because they want to help manage their city's, state's, or nation's services and improve community relations. Many professionals working in public administration work as a consultant for private companies with government agency contracts. Consideri reading our writeup of the highest paying public administration jobs.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Earn a top-ranked Master of Public Administration online from UNC-Chapel Hill without relocating. MPA @ UNC can be completed in less than two years and no public service experience is required to apply. Advanced degree GRE waivers are available to those who qualify.
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Earn a master’s degree from a top-ranked school for public affairs. American University brings DC to you with the online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP), combining our nationally recognized and NASPAA-accredited Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) degree programs into one foundational, highly marketable credential. Click here for more program information.

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies brings together theory and practice in the study of government and its effects, domestically and abroad. Earn a master’s degree (choose from 3 specialty programs) or graduate certificate (4 different options) with the prestige of Johns Hopkins University and the flexibility of AAP’s online options. Choose to study Government, Public Management, Government Analytics, and more.

Working in the Private Sector

You can also work in many important roles in government or the private sector with this degree. Whether you want to work in health, communications, legal areas, public transportation or other areas, you can be an important part of change in your community, your state, and even across our entire nation.

Those who earn their Master in Public Administration can work in civil service, as education administrators, public administration consultants, program analysts, human resources director, public works director, and many other positions.

Your position may involve long-term project planning, budget analysis, ethical decision-making, fundraising, marketing, curriculum development and training, public relations, and many other elements.

Common Salaries for Jobs in Public Administration

How much you can earn with your master of public administration can vary greatly, and depends on the type of work you do, where you live, and what kind of organization you work for.

You can view the highest paying public administration jobs, or read on for some salaries for occupations that you can obtain with your masters in public administration.

Political Scientist Salary

This career will have you studying how political systems developed, and how they operate today, with areas of work that include governments (local, state, federal), laws, changes and forces that help shape the political climate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political scientists can earn a median wage of $99,730, according to 2015 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Urban and Regional Planner Salary

This role is growing as fast as the national average and pays a median wage of $68,220 per year, per the BLS. If you work in this area of public administration you can help your city grow functionally while helping the community improve at the same time. Internships provide common entry points into this kind of position. So far, New Jersey is the only state to require licensing for urban planners (BLS).

Medical and Health Services Managers Salary

This is an occupation that you can technically qualify for with your bachelor’s degree, but you can be more competitive and stand apart from other applicants with your masters degree. The BLS states that those who work in this occupation can earn a median wage of $94,500 per year. Plus, the job outlook for this profession is 17% anticipated growth from 2014-24 – which is much faster than the national average (BLS).

Human Resources Managers Salary

This is another career you hear about when researching degree programs in public administration. Human resource managers have important responsibility to make sure the administrative functions of their company or organization is running smoothly. They also help bridge the challenges and differences between management and employees. The BLS states that human resource managers can expect to earn a median wage of $104,440 per year, according to 2015 data (BLS).

Average Salary for a Masters of Public Administration Degree Holder vs. Bachelors

You can look at the salary statistics from the BLS and see why it can pay to earn your masters in public administration. Here are several examples of average salaries for occupations related to this degree program:

Social and community service managers

The median annual wage for a bachelor’s degree is $50,000 while the median annual wage for masters degree is $65,000.

Medical and health services managers

For bachelor’s degree holders, the median wage is $70,000 and for masters degree holders it is $90,000.


There can be a significant boost in salary, depending on whether you hold your bachelor’s or masters level degree. When you speak to schools about salary levels for professionals in your area, be sure to ask about the salary gap for these degree levels in your occupation of interest (Salaries Sourced from BLS).

Top Organizations to Work for with an MPA Degree

Like any area of study, there are world famous organizations and companies that graduates may want to work for. These companies that “everybody knows” sometimes provide the most jobs in their sector, the most famous products, or make the biggest impact in their area of focus. If you are earning your MPA degree, you may look at these top organizations as your barometer for what you want in an employer or role.


Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
FEMA/Terry Monrad – Wikimedia Commons

Yes, the world’s most famous intelligence gathering organization needs people with MPA degrees to help manage the endless bureaucracy and policies that affect the organization. In fact, all law enforcement agencies, such as the ATF, FBI, and others have to pay attention strict administrative rules and procedures, and may offer career opportunities for MPH grads.


A world-renowned leader in IT company that creates networking technology that they handle from design to manufacturing solutions. They are known to hire MPA graduates to help create effective and efficient workplace processes and policies.


If you want to work in the nonprofit sector, this organization is a great place to start your search. They need quality MPA’s to help make sure their programs run smoothly. With all of their international work, MPA’s in these roles may be able to travel and see the world!

United Nations

American MPA’s can play a pivotal role in helping shape our stances towards international policies and how they align or conflict with our homegrown values and standards. Like the AmeriCorps, working for the United Nations will help you network with people from all cultures who are doing their best to maintain a peaceful planet.

Major news organizations

Graduates with their Masters in Public Administration degree can help major news outlets vet current policy designs being put forth by politicians in D.C. The talking heads and commentary style journalists need the insight of those who understand how to research and understand where different political minds rest on these issues.

Major Hollywood Studios

Do you think most $100 million productions (low budget these days) can run smoothly without people who understand how to manage unions, hectic production schedules, shifts in schedules, laws and licensing.


You can’t be as big as Google is in tech and not need the help of graduates of MPA programs. These professionals help keep Google’s offices running smoothly across a wide network of projects, teams, initiatives, and everything else that company is doing – it’s impossible to keep up!

National Public Radio (NPR)

For millions of Americans, this is their favorite non-profit and news source. NPR needs MPA’s to function effectively, as they deliver news, interviews with political figures, activists, and promote public interest stories. NPR has satellite stations in major cities across the United States where MPA grads can pursue employment.

Teach for America

This organization works to develop the next generation of tomorrow’s teachers. They help education students across the US work towards careers, by offering them positions in classrooms in low income areas. With your MPA you can help this organization stay focused, execute its mission, and help them shape education policy in your own way.

What Careers Can You Have with an MPA Degree?

Policy Manager Career

Working as a policy manager is a multifaceted role that can include presentation data and information about policies related to your organization’s focus. For instance, you may work for a think tank to help private businesses and government agencies solve complex problems in a wide variety of areas, such as education, taxes, military affairs, and more.

City Manager Career

Think managing a team in an office is tough? Try managing an entire city, making sure all your public services were working efficiently. This work will include worker performance, project planning, budgets, and other areas where the city is responsible to the community.

Civil Service Administrator Career

This role is for highly organized and proactive workers who want to work in agencies that serve the public and apply policies created by the government. In this role, you may work directly with the public in a variety of ways, and relating to all kinds of legislation.

Director of Development Career

If you choose to work in this role, your primary concern, especially in non-profit work, is making sure you have the proper funding to operate every fiscal year. You will lead the plan to tap financial resources and generate funds as outlined in the plan you create. You will be held accountable for the execution of this plan by those at the executive and leadership level. This role may also include writing grants and personally executing strategies.

Health Services Manager Career

In this role, you can work in the expanding healthcare industry. You would be a leader in developing the core objectives for your team or organization. This may involve making sure staff has the appropriate training and up-to-date equipment on which to perform their tasks. You may also be responsible for making sure the records in your facility are collected, stored, and shared through a secure process.

Program Director Career

These professionals are accountable for designing and implementing programs at all types of companies. This role includes helping develop the guidelines for conduct and policies related to employee behavior. They may have to engage directly with the community and attend public events to shore up support for their program. Coordinating all aspects of the program, as well as creating the budget and writing grant proposals can also be part of this role.

Human Resources Career

Those who earn their MPA are also a natural fit for human resources management. With your knowledge of how to approach policy and procedures, as well as creating them from scratch, you can work in several types of companies in this role.

International Organizations Career

You can bet there are many international organizations who would benefit from having an US graduate of an MPA program. With your knowledge and skills you can help bridge the divide between our nation and those who seek our partnerships to combat global challenges.

Non-Profit Management Career

With your MPA you can work in almost every type of non-profit in management or leadership roles. These positions can vary from every type of organization you can think of that perform charity or public service related work. Whether you want to help manage your local animal shelter or work for the United Way in a management position, you can do both with this degree.

Director of Transportation Career

In this role you can make sure that transportation operations run smoothly at your company. This work is typically fast-paced, involves working with drivers, overseeing projects, and communicating to customers, as well as helping with the financial aspects of the company.

If you really want to learn more about jobs you can acquire with your MPA, contact schools in your area today to learn more about their programs. Don’t forget to compare those with online, accredited programs that teach students in your state.