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From Policy to Practice: Stories of Public Administration Careers


From afar, the government can seem like a vast, controlling entity. However, our country's government consists of countless public servants who work to ensure that everyone receives essential services, programs, and resources. At its core, our government is human, and public service workers are the heartbeat that keeps it alive.

What Is Public Administration? 

Public administration is the study of public policy, including how it is developed and implemented in a government. Those who pursue a public administration degree aspire to work in the public sector, often at the management level. 

The Evolution of Public Administration Practices 

Public administration practices evolve to address the unique challenges of each generation. Economic, social, political, and environmental factors may all shape the public administration practices of a given agency or government. 

Key Functions and Responsibilities

According to Britannica, public administrators have several essential functions and responsibilities: 

  • Planning and organizing public policy. 
  • Directing the implementation of public policy. 
  • Coordinating government programs. 
  • Overseeing and controlling government operations. 

Where Do Public Administrators Work? 

Public administrators work in a wide variety of areas, including the government, government agencies and international organizations. Depending on their role, public service workers may work in the field or in an office setting. Some work environments include:

  • Federal government 
  • Local or state government 
  • Nonprofit organizations 
  • International organizations 
  • Government agencies 
  • Public affairs 
  • Public health 
  • Public works 

The Path to a Public Administration Career 

If you are interested in becoming a public administrator, or you are passionate about working in the public sector, then you will want to know the best path to pursue to launch your career. 

Educational Requirements and Qualifications 

Most public service workers begin their careers by earning a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as political science or public policy. Gaining relevant, practical experience, often through internships or entry-level positions at government agencies, is essential. To further your career and pursue higher-level opportunities in public administration, you may want to consider an MBA with a specialization in public administration or a master's degree in public administration. Some necessary skills you’ll need to become a public administrator include:

  • Communication 
  • Analytical skills 
  • Empathy 
  • Cultural awareness 
  • Political and public policy skills 
  • Critical thinking  
  • Problem-solving  

Areas of Impact in Community Service 

Most public service workers are motivated by the desire to make a difference in their communities and the lives of others. Regardless of the type of public administration career that you pursue, you will have opportunities to make an impact. Public servants make a difference by: 

Enhancing Public Health Initiatives 

Public servants who specialize in public health can actively work to create relevant and accessible programming that helps promote public health initiatives and ensure that marginalized and underrepresented populations receive the care that they need. According to the Partnership for Public Service, some public servants feel particularly enthusiastic about their ability to ensure that everyone has access to the health insurance coverage that they need. Additionally, they also feel passionate that those individuals can understand the benefits that are available to them. 

Improving Local Education Systems 

Public servants who work in the educational sector can ensure that students of all ages and backgrounds have access to the learning materials and experiences that they need to enjoy a well-rounded, high-quality academic experience. Many find that it is particularly rewarding to serve the next generation of leaders. 

Enhancing Public Safety 

Law enforcement officers and emergency management professionals are public servants who work tirelessly every day to enhance public safety and ensure that all citizens can live in a secure, comfortable environment. Through policing and community outreach efforts, these public service workers can have a significant impact on the local community. 

Implementing Sustainability Measures 

Whether they focus on public policy or work for government agencies that enact sustainability initiatives, public servants can promote environmental conservation and take sustainable actions that protect the world for the next generation. 

Advancing Your Career With a Master’s Degree 

While most public administration careers require you to have a bachelor's degree as well as relevant work experience, you may find that a Master's Degree in Public Administration allows you to elevate your career and pursue leadership positions in your chosen field. 

Benefits of Pursuing a Higher Degree 

Some benefits of pursuing an advanced degree in public administration include: 

  • Enhacing your prospects for higher-level positions in public administration. 
  • Increasing your earning potential over time. 
  • Having the opportunity to specialize in a niche area of public administration. 

Some areas of specialization within public administration may include:

  • Healthcare administration 
  • Nonprofit management 
  • Human resources 
  • Emergency management 
  • Urban planning 
  • Public policy 
  • Environmental policy 
  • Business administration 

Challenges Facing Public Administration Professionals 

Public administration is a rewarding career, but it has its challenges. Those who want to work in public service will find that they will rely on their creativity and problem-solving skills to come up with innovative solutions to the complex challenges of today's modern world. 

Navigating Bureaucracy and Governance 

Public service workers often work in government, and that means dealing with the slow, frustrating bureaucracy. Knowing these systems are in place for a reason can help you stay focused as you try to navigate the bureaucratic channels required to create or enact public policy. 

Addressing Public Policy Issues 

Public policy issues are becoming more complex every day. Therefore, public servants must create actionable and relevant initiatives that will have a positive impact on their local communities.

Navigating the Public Administration Job Market 

Public administrators can work in various sectors, creating many job opportunities. Navigating the public administration job market requires awareness of your skills and specialties, focusing on positions most relevant to your career. 

Trends and Opportunities 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights several growth opportunities for careers in public policy and public service:

  • Health Service Management — 28 percent projected job growth rate. 
  • Social and Community Service Management — 9 percent projected job growth rate. 
  • Social Workers — 7 percent projected job growth rate. 
  • Administration Services Management — 5 percent projected job growth rate. 

Preparing for a Competitive Environment 

While there are numerous job opportunities available for public service workers, public administration graduates face a competitive job market. Prepare for your job search by: 

  • Earning a graduate degree in public administration.
  • Pursuing relevant work experience at government agencies or in the non-profit sector. 
  • Building your professional network. 


What Are Some Examples of Successful Public Administration Initiatives? 

Some of the most successful public administration initiatives in recent years include the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the access to healthcare that was offered through the Affordable Care Act, and the food and nutrition programs in schools that helped to improve the health of school-aged children around the country. 

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With a Public Administration Degree? 

The median annual salary of public administration workers is $50,000. Most public administration professionals with a master's degree can increase their earning potential over time. 

What Is the Difference Between Public and Private Administration? 

Public administrators work for publicly funded organizations, such as government agencies, whereas private administration professionals work for corporations and businesses in the private sector. 

Pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Administration! 

Public service workers can enjoy impactful and rewarding careers. Earn an online master's degree in public administration or an online MBA with a specialization in public administration from Champlain College Online to prepare for a wide range of public administration careers. 

Request more information about our online graduate degree programs today!

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