Working in Public Administration

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Public administrators need leadership attributes such as problem-solving and people skills.

Public administration jobs are challenging, rewarding, and secure positions with great government benefits. And because these jobs are so highly coveted, a public administration candidate will do well to enroll in a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) program.

An MPA degree opens doors to a range of career opportunities in government on local, state, and federal levels.

“Public administrators implement, coordinate, manage, and oversee the various levels of government,” Deborah Johnson writes in “Public Administration Education” in the PA Times. “They must be able to effectively and professionally communicate and coordinate government business between departments and stakeholders.”

Leadership is an important component of the role, according to “Understanding Leadership in Public Administration: The Biographical Approach.” Public administrators should possess leadership attributes such as problem-solving skills, a positive attitude, and people skills, according to Beverly Jones at Ohio University’s Voinovich Fellows Executive Leadership Series called “Mindset, Confidence, and Building Your Leadership Brand.”

“It is never too early to think about how you show up as a leader,” Jones explains. “Any time you accept responsibility for your work … then you’re acting like a leader.”

A master’s degree in public administration can provide a strong foundation for an interesting and valued career that can really improve the quality of life for many people..

Ohio University’s online MPA offers concentrations in public leadership and management, state and local government management, and non-profit management that can prepare professionals for a variety of public administration career paths.

Public Administration Career Paths

Not all careers obtainable through an MPA program and diploma are government jobs. Many private businesses and non-profit organizations also need people on staff trained and experienced in public administration.

The skillset obtained through an MPA education can come in handy in schools, policy implementation, marketing analysis, and training, according to’s “Guide to Public Administration Jobs: Finding Your Role.”

According to Career Trend, public administrators work in government administrative and fiscal roles, or within nonprofit organizations. Career options for professionals with an MPA include:

  • Chief Administration Officer

City managers prepare and manage budgets, oversee government operations and personnel, and coordinate with elected officials and council members, among other tasks, according to and On average, a city manager can expect to make $93,373 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. However, the income level hinges on the location and size of the municipality, with salaries ranging from $60,000 to more than $117,000 a year.

  • Urban Planner

Urban planners are responsible for developing and administering programs that help communities accommodate growth and revitalization. As of 2018, planners earned an average annual salary of $74,350, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • City Council Member

City council members are elected officials whose duties include attending local board meetings, representing constituents, implementing laws, and promoting safety. Salaries vary widely, depending on location and the size of the municipality. Payscale reports that the average annual wage for a city council member is $45,000. puts the range at $16,950 to $91,960, with an average of $37,232.

  • Lobbyist

Some lobbyists in the public sector work on behalf of local, state, or federal agencies or governments to advance that organization’s interests with certain legislative bodies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Responsibilities may include lining up backers for a particular bill. However, exact duties vary by state, the NCSL reports. According to Payscale, lobbyists can make anywhere from $45,000 to $144,000 a year depending on location and experience level. The average salary is $72,614.

  • Nonprofit Director

Like a corporate CEO, the executive director of a nonprofit holds the top administrative position in the organization. Directors provide strategic guidance, work with the board of directors and other external stakeholders, and oversee public relations and fundraising efforts, according to the Houston Chronicle. Given their public spotlight, non-profit directors must also maintain a spotless reputation that reflects the values of the organization. The median yearly income for executive directors of non-profit organizations is $66,434, according to Payscale.

Public administration jobs can offer a satisfying path to leading and making a difference for the community. An MPA can help professionals interested in working in public administration to gain the skills and education necessary to seek top-level public service positions.

About Ohio University’s Online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) Program

Ohio University’s online MPA program is dedicated to preparing professionals for a career in public administration. Through the university’s prestigious Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, students gain an overview of the scope of public administration work while building skills in policy, finance, leadership, business, management, and communications. The school occupies the No. 12 spot in the SR Education Group’s 2019 Best Online Colleges Offering MPA Programs ranking.

The program, which is 100% online, offers three concentrations: Public Leadership and Management, Non-Profit Management, or State and Local Government Management. Students can finish their degree programs in as few as two years.

Recommended Reading

10 Traits of a Successful Public Administrator
A Day in the Life of a Public Administrator
Public Administration: Building More Diverse Public Organizations and Businesses
3 Influential Government Careers for Civic-Minded Graduates
Gender Equality in Public Administration


The Important Job of a Public Administrator: PA Times
Public Administration Education: PA Times
Understanding Leadership in Public Administration: The Biographical Approach: JSTOR
Mindset, Confidence, and Building Your Leadership Brand: Ohio University’s Voinovich Fellows Executive Leadership Series
Online Master of Public Administration: Ohio University
Guide to Public Administration Jobs: Finding Your Role:
The Role of a Public Administrator: Career Trend
City Manager Responsibilities: and
City Manager Salary: ZipRecruiter
Urban and Regional Planners: Bureau of Labor Statistics
City Council Salary: Payscale
City Council Salary: Comparably
Lobbyist Salary: Payscale
How States Define Lobbying and Lobbyist: National Conference of State Legislatures
The Role of an Executive Director of a Nonprofit Organization: Houston Chronicle
Nonprofit Director Salary: Payscale