Krysten Godfrey Maddocks
August 20, 2018
Public administration is a broad field that covers the administrative services needed to help build and strengthen society.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) defines it as a branch of study that prepares you to serve as a public service manager in local, state or federal government. Typically, courses in public administration cover public policy management, legislative relations, public budgetary processes and financial management, labor relations, and ethics, NCES reports.
Those possessing a public administration degree typically work in a diverse number of roles that may range from developing nutrition programs for low-income families to working with law enforcement officials to help solve the opioid epidemic.
They may also oversee urban planning and municipal budgets, according to The College Board.
The Princeton Review asserts that an undergraduate degree in public administration can help open the door to careers in public housing, law enforcement and labor relations, as well as in healthcare and social service organizations. Urban and regional planners, community service managers, emergency response specialists and budget analysts are all examples of careers that require grounding in the principles of public administration, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Public administrators share an important role in ensuring that laws and regulations, civil rights, municipal budgets and health and safety codes are enforced to protect the community they serve.
Specifically, BLS outlines some of the responsibilities you might have working in a public administrator, or administrative services, role:
Today, the issues facing public administrators are as broad as the populations they serve. Good public administrators must ensure they serve all constituents fairly and equitably. Some of the challenges they face include the perception of corruption in government, the rise in new technologies and their effect on communications, a lack of diversity in citizen participation and implicit bias and racial discrimination, according to a commentary published in the American Society for Public Administration's PA Times. It will be increasingly important for public administrators to seek innovative solutions in an era of increasing and changing populations, the commentary suggests.
BLS provides the following examples of government and public administration careers, along with job descriptions, in which an undergraduate degree is helpful.
Administrative Service Manager - Sometimes referred to as business office managers or facilities managers, administrative services managers plan, manage and coordinate the support services of an organization, including its employees and its resources, according to BLS. In an administrative service manager role, you could expect to set goals for personnel and departments, oversee related buildings and equipment, and manage policies related to health, safety and efficiency. The median annual wage for administrative services managers was $94,020 in 2017, BLS reports.
Whichever role you choose, working in public administration can offer you other benefits in addition to salary, including a sense of purpose, the opportunity to learn and grow, and a way to make a difference in your community, state or country.
Krysten Godfrey Maddocks '11 is a writer and marketing/communication professional. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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