There are many career options to explore within public administration! The following options are only a sampling of the varying directions you can consider. Keep in mind that the path you choose may require additional education, experience, and/or other qualifications beyond obtaining a public administration degree.
Sample job titles:
- Chief Financial Officer
- City Manager
- City & Regional Planning Aide
- Community Outreach Manager
- County Manager
- Director of Administration
- Director of Government Relations
- Director of International Activities
- Economic Development Director
- Environmental Health Deputy
- Fire Chief
- Fundraising Manager
- Grant Administrator
- Industrial Relations Specialist
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Management Consultant
- Nonprofit Director
- Parks & Recreation Director
- Police Chief
- Policy Analyst
- Public Affairs Director
- Public Relations Specialist
- Public Works Superintendent
- Social & Community Service Manager
Keep in mind your ideal career path may or may not appear in the list above. Continue exploring career options until you find a path that aligns with your individual interests and professional goals. Make it a priority to learn as much as possible about your desired career path. The more you know about your target job, the better you can plan and prepare yourself for success.
The following career libraries can help you continue your research:
Finding Your Fit in Public Administration
While there are several types of positions available to pursue within this field, public administrators are typically classified into two main categories: organizational managers and policy analysts.
- Organizational managers frequently oversee government or nonprofit agencies, ensuring the agency's goals are systematically met. They are known to manage employees and projects, create and review budgets, and negotiate between governments and private entities.
- Policy Analysts obtain information to assist with the development of reasonable and useful public policies. They often specialize in specific subject areas (such as crime policy or environmental policy).
Can you envision yourself working in one of these roles? Which administrator type do you think would best suit your individual strengths and interests?
Consider your preferred employers and environment:
Public administrators can serve in a variety of settings. While the federal government is a large employer within this field, there are several other employment options to consider. For example:
- Local and state government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Consulting firms
- Colleges and universities
- Healthcare facilities
- Community service agencies
- Law enforcement and public safety agencies
Take time to reflect upon your individual interests, working preferences, and ideal employer types. It is important that you consider where you would like to work and whom you would like to serve when deciding upon your career path in public administration. If you feel stuck, Career Services offers a free online self-assessment tool (FOCUS 2) that can help you identify your major interest areas, values, and work-related preferences. Visit our Career Exploration page in your ecampus to learn more.
Completing an informational interview with someone who works in your desired job role can help you better understand the day-to-day functions and expectations of their position. Learn more on how to conduct an informational interview by watching the following video:
Employers gravitate toward hiring job candidates that possess relevant, real-world experiences that complement their education. If you have limited experience in public administration, below are some ways you can gain relevant experience and pave your way to opportunity.
Research potential fellowship opportunities, such as the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, to sharpen your professional skills and leadership abilities.
Internship opportunities can be found at a variety of agencies and organizations. While many opportunities are posted online, others must be discovered by reaching out to the organization directly.
Popular sites to search for internship postings include:
Internship opportunities may also be available through local organizations. For example:
- City or County Management Offices
- Foundations and Nonprofits
- Public Safety Agencies
- Libraries and Museums
- Social Service Agencies
- State Government Offices
Volunteering allows you to serve your community while building new skills, experiences, and professional connections. Reach out to your local nonprofit organizations, community service groups, and government agencies to inquire about volunteer service.
National and Community Service
Consider looking into service-based programs and opportunities through the Corporation for National & Community Service, such as the AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps Network programs.
Building meaningful connections with employers, recruiters, mentors, and industry professionals can help you learn more about a position or field as well as aid you during a future job search. Below are ways you can begin establishing new professional relationships.
APUS Virtual Career Fairs
Career Services offers industry-specific virtual career fairs throughout the year, attracting employers who want to meet with APUS students and alumni. Click here to view our Virtual Career Fairs page in your ecampus to discover upcoming events.
Joining a professional organization offers a variety of career and professional development benefits, including the opportunity to network at conferences and other events. There are several professional organizations within the public administration field, so be sure to explore all your options to find the best fit for you. Examples of relevant organizations include:
- Alliance for Nonprofit Management
- American Association for Budget & Program Analysis
- American Evaluation Association
- American Society for Public Administration
- Council on Foreign Relations
- National Forum for Black Public Aministrators
- Policy Studies Organization
Build your network, connect with employers, and join LinkedIn groups to engage in professional discussions. Examples of relevant LinkedIn groups include:
APUS Mentoring Program
Receive coaching, motivation, and professional advice from a university mentor. Visit our mentoring page for more information.
Advice from our Experts
The following articles offer additional advice to consider as you explore your career options: