7 Best Degrees to Help Get Into Government

Many people want to make a career for themselves in state or federal government. Getting a government job can take a long time, but once you get into government work, you generally will enjoy a good salary and a high degree of job security. There are several types of bachelor’s and graduate degrees that can help you to get into government, including the following:

#1 Public Administration

Getting into government work is often made easier if you have a public administration background. There are many political offices that need to be filled in state and federal government. If you get a bachelor’s or a masters in public administration, you could be in demand in many state and federal agencies. In your program, you will learn how to effect lasting change in politics and policies in all levels of government. You can expect to take classes in public budgeting, financial administration, public policy and community analysis.

Tip: Getting a master’s degree in public administration can be a good way to get into a political scientist career, either working in the government or for a non profit organization.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend for Public Administration is $58,000 per year. The Average Public Administration salaries for job postings nationwide are 3% lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.


#2 International Relations

The world is more interconnected than ever before, so it is very important to be able to understand policies and politics outside the US. You will learn about complex international political issues, such as how war affects foreign trade, intelligence, diplomacy, and how nations work together on economic and military matters.

Tip: A master’s degree in international relations can be a good way into the US Foreign Service.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend for International Relations is $49,000 per year. The Average International Relations salaries for job postings nationwide are 18% lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.

#3 Business Administration

Some people may not think that a business degree is important in government, but this is not the case. Many top political appointees have studied business management, and there is a need for state and federal workers who understand business management.

Getting your bachelor’s or master’s in business management can help you to learn how to arrange, direct and manage the objectives of an agency or department. You will probably take classes in accounting, marketing, economics, business policy and sociology.

Tip: Getting a business administration degree, especially an MBA, can give you a good path into business and financial management in the federal government. You may be able to find a good position in the Treasury Department, or in its equivalent at the state level.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend for Business Administration is $68,000 per year. Average Business Administration salaries for job postings nationwide are 14% higher than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.


#4 Economics

Having a complete understanding of economics can be very important in a government career. You will understand how society distributes resources to make goods and services. In your career in government, you could do research, collect data on the costs of energy, study inflation and interest rates, and more. Many students who study economics eventually work in government as financial analysts and accountants.

Tip: A master’s degree in economics is a good way to get into work at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend in Economics is $66,000 per year. Average Economics salaries for job postings nationwide are 10% higher than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.

#5 Political Science

If you want to get into government and are eager to learn about government bodies and public policy, you should consider a bachelor’s or master’s degree in political science. You will learn about the mechanics of politics, how political systems originate, and how public policy is formed. You also will learn about political theory and political ideology

Getting your political science degree can be a good entry into a career as a political scientist or policy analyst at the federal level.

Tip: Getting an internship is a really good way to eventually get a full time political science job in Washington DC.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend in Political Science is $60,000 per year. The Average Political Science salaries for job postings nationwide are the same as average salaries for all job postings nationwide.


#6 Public Health

One of the fastest-growing areas for employment in the government sector is that of public health. There is a greater focus today on preventing people from getting sick in the first place. This helps to reduce health care costs for society. According to Careersinpublichealth.net, there are over 400 various jobs & careers to pursue in both government and private work pertaining to public health.

Some of the most common types of jobs available in public health departments at all level of government include biostatistician and epidemiologist.

Tip: Some of the best public health work available is at the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service. Be sure to check out available positions at this federal organization.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend in Public Health is $59,000 per year. The Average Public Health salaries for job postings nationwide are 2% lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.

#7 Public Policy

With a degree in public policy, you will master a set of core skills in program evaluation, policy analysis, management and politics that are of great value in any government organization. All governmental organizations, as well as many private employers, need to have policy analysts who are well trained and can dissect public policy issues and be able to interpret and analyze data.

Tip: Check the website PSJD.org, which is a very helpful tool for people who are interested in public policy and other public sector careers.

Salary Trend: Indeed.com states the national salary trend in Public Policy is $53,000 per year. The Average Public Policy salaries for job postings nationwide are 12% lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide.

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Adrian Pavia

This is a good conversation starter — thank you for posting this. I especially like the inclusion of expected salaries, which could help people make better decisions about educational loans.

I might append a few words to the IR section on behalf of all my International Relations/Affairs buddies. Especially at the advanced degree level, international programs are ramping up their curriculum to include a lot of hard skills in addition to courses the boost subject matter expertise. For example, I took classes in econometrics, geospatial analysis, program evaluation, and cost benefit analysis.

I might also add that the government is desperate for STEM field graduates, which includes biotechnology, computer programming, health science, earth sciences, and many, many others. These jobs will likely command higher salaries and might even be easier to obtain due to the scarcity of qualified candidates.

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