“Power is the ability to do good things for others.”
Many students don’t just want to earn a living; they want a life of service. Enter public administration. As a discipline that applies to a spectrum of fields, public administration can lead to a number of meaningful career paths that better the world around us.
What is Public Administration?
Public administration is the study of public leadership. The field is interdisciplinary; it may incorporate areas such as political science, economics, psychology and more. Public administration majors seek to gain a significant understanding of how policies that affect the public are created, implemented and improved.
Public Administration Sectors
Because public administration careers are incredibly wide in scope, they span nearly all sectors of the economy.
This sector oversees all policies that apply to the national interest of the public. Specific employers are most often federal agencies, such as the Census Bureau, the Federal Housing Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public administration majors can find positions in administrative, professional, clerical or even technical roles, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains. Although jobs in the federal government may be found throughout the country, many are geographically located in Washington and a few key states: Virginia, Maryland, Texas and California.
Local and State Government
The local and state government sector is like the federal government in its commitment to serving the public. However, the work is more localized. Employees often work to solve problems in their own communities, instead of those that affect the country at large. They must also adhere to stricter legal boundaries, The Balance explains, as they are governed by both state and federal laws.
Education refers to any position that directly or indirectly helps others learn. Those in this sector can find positions in schools, colleges and universities or training centers, which may be for profit or nonprofit in nature. Learners can be any age, from preschool up to adults. Common job titles include teachers, principals, tutors and school system administrators.
Nonprofits are organizations specifically designed to benefit the public interest. Their sizes and missions vary greatly, ranging from small places of worship to food banks to the American Red Cross. Public administration is a particularly applicable degree to the nonprofit sector.
Health Care Sector
The health care sector refers to any organization or company that provides physical or mental health services. Examples of employers include hospitals, ambulatory services, mental health facilities and community health organizations. Those with public administration degrees can help understand, manage and improve these entities from a systemic perspective.
Careers in Public Administration
Below are 10 exciting public administration careers.
Also known as “urban” or “regional” planners, city planners enhance the commercial promise and livability of communities. Through developing both land and programs, they work to understand how to best use natural resources, create opportunities for businesses and design urban layouts such as streets and public spaces.
Legislators are publicly elected officials charged with carrying out the wishes of their constituents at the local, state and federal levels of government. They may debate and pass legislation, serve on committees that address specific public issues and appoint nominees to various positions of leadership. A key skill for legislators is balancing the conflicting interests of those they represent.
Community Health Specialist
Commonly called “community health workers,” community health specialists educate others about health topics relevant to their communities, the BLS reports. Often representatives of specific health organizations, they serve as liaisons between those organizations and the public.
Emergency medical services (EMS) managers oversee the staff and operations of ambulance and paramedic services. The National EMS Management Association describes the role as one of three tiered positions. EMS managers may be direct supervisors for paramedics, serve in coordination roles for EMS organizations or lead in top management as coordinators for major emergency disaster response.
Parks and Recreation Director
Parks and recreation directors oversee the management of public spaces in towns or cities and find ways to earn revenue through their use. They may plan community activities, attend to public maintenance concerns and make recommendations to city councils about best practices for land use.
Nonprofit Grant Writer
Nonprofit grant writers use their knowledge of public systems and written communication to gain funding for organizations. They research grant opportunities, assemble documents, draft proposals and communicate with donors in order to secure funds that help their organizations advance their missions and work.
Director of Public Works
Directors of public works oversee the use of public infrastructure such as energy, telecommunications and water treatment. The overall responsibility of directors of public works is to ensure that services are safe, reliable and operate within state and federal guidelines. In addition to supervising staff, they draft and balance budgets, interact with the public to ensure their needs are heard and meet with health care organizations.
City or county managers oversee all operations within a municipality. Their responsibilities include budgeting, advising officials such as the mayor or members of city council in creating policies, and working extensively with other entities such as the media, government agencies and the general public. They may be hired or elected.
Often employed near state capitals and Washington, lobbyists are paid to meet with elected officials and attempt to persuade them to pass or kill legislation supported or opposed by the companies, organizations or industries that the lobbyist represents.
Housing specialists assist their clients in finding permanent housing. They work on behalf of government agencies to ensure that those with limited income or special needs understand and complete the required processes. Specific responsibilities may include maintaining lists of available housing for clients, conducting interviews and teaching financial literacy topics such as budgeting.
The breadth of opportunities available in public administration means students can truly tailor their career path to fit their interests, leading to more exciting and fulfilling professional lives.
Your Public Administration Degree
For those interested in using their education to serve the common good, public administration may be a perfect fit. The online bachelor’s degree in public administration from Point Park University provides a practical, relevant curriculum, helping students find success in today’s job market and preparing them for tomorrow’s challenges. The fully online program offers maximum convenience for those seeking to earn their degree on a schedule that fits their life. Concentrations are available in EMS administration and fire service administration.