People who go into the area of political science are passionate about the political environment and how it affects the everyday lives of the population. Political scientists study the way government and all its branches and sectors operate. They research political systems, their origin and development, as well as analyze political trends, issues, and public policy.
Starting a career in this subject requires students to complete a four year Bachelor’s Degree in political science or any other related field, and then continuing their education for two more years to obtain a Master’s Degree in Political Science. The graduate degree in Political Science falls into the MA degree category and graduates get the title Master of Arts in Political Science.
Political Scientists wherever they become employed have a multitude of tasks and duties that they fulfill.
Some of them are:
- Collecting and analyzing data for public opinion surveys and election results
- Developing theories as well as quantitative and qualitative methods for analysis
- Researching political subjects, relations between governments, and political ideologies
- Evaluating policies and laws of the public and the private sector
- Monitoring and forecasting trends, events, and policy decisions
- Presenting reports and articles related to their work
At the end of their education, there are various paths that graduates of political science can take. Their wide array of skills and qualifications make them competent to work in different areas. The employment and salary prospects are quite good for political scientists.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for someone with a Master’s in Political Science in 2016 was $114,290. That’s not bad at all!
Competition for political science jobs is high. Most of the graduates are seeking to make a difference in their country and its government, so they go into the public sector. About 55% of political scientists are employed in the government according to the BLS. The rest compete for other jobs in related areas where their expertise is demanded.
If you are a graduate and are asking yourself what can you do with a Masters in Political Science, this article will cover some job positions and skills required to succeed in this subject.
- Specialization in Political Science
- Skills for Political Scientists
- Sectors and Areas of Employment
- Job Positions
Specializations in Political Science
A Masters in Political Science gives students some basic skills and knowledge on the structures of governments, their laws, and how policy is formulated. They learn power dynamics, campaign management, and influencing public opinion.
Besides the core knowledge, students can elect specializations which make them experts in a field and thus guide their career prospects. Deciding on a specialization does not necessarily mean that graduates must find work in that area, but it serves to show what skills they have and what they can achieve in the workplace.
Some of the specializations for the Masters in Political Science are:
- Public Administration – studies how the government operates and is managed in different levels
- Public Affairs – goes in depth on the relations between the government and its people, as well as between governments of different countries
- Public Policy – analyzes how policy is developed, passed, and implemented as well as monitors its effects and impacts on the life of citizens
Students choose their specialization based on their interests, and gain knowledge and skills which can make them excellent public servants and private sector employees.
Skills for Political Scientists
As mentioned, a graduate degree in Political Science develops many skills and prepares students for a successful career in the field.
In general, students gain:
- Communication skills – through which they can efficiently present their ideas, opinions, data, and negotiate successfully
- Research and Quantitative skills – which make them proficient in developing good quantitative models, research methods, and sound data collection plans
- Analysis skills – to interpret and understand data and problems, and come up with solutions to them
- Planning and Monitoring skills – to organize people and projects, make projections and forecasts, and monitor impacts of decision making
Specifically, to have a well-rounded set of skills which will make you more likely to get a job and succeed, graduates of political science need to be able to do the following:
- Analyze public policy initiatives
- Assess the validity and reliability of research methods
- Conduct legal analysis
- Have excellent critical thinking and debating skills
- Evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and policies
- Interpret current events through a political perspective
- Propose solutions to political, social, and economic issues
- Write research papers and plans, reports, and editorials
Sectors and Areas of Employment
Masters in Political Science jobs can be in many sectors and areas depending on the student’s specializations, skills, and the current job market. In addition, many students who go into political science want to work in the public sector so the competition for those jobs is especially high, limiting them to finding employment in other sectors.
Despite the competition, graduates with a Masters in Political Science can work in these sectors and areas of employment:
- Government agencies
- Law firms
- International agencies
- Consulting firms
- Private firms
- Media companies
- Lobbying agencies
- Research organizations
- Universities and colleges
All the possible sectors and areas that political scientists can work in also give a long list of job positions that they can take in each one of them. We will go through the public and private sectors and other areas by listing job positions and giving brief descriptions to a few. The list is by no means exhaustive as the Masters in Political Science degree provides endless opportunities for graduates to be employed in.
Public Sector jobs can be in all areas and departments of the government. Some of the more popular job positions that exist in this sector are:
- Federal Government jobs
- Political Campaign Staff
- Public Policy Analyst
- Advocacy personnel
- Social Policy Program Officer
- Foreign Service Officer
- Political Consultant
- Intelligence Analyst
- Financial/Economic Analyst
- Legislative Assistant
- Political Aide
- Customs Officer
- Economic Development Officer
Many of these positions are quite straightforward, with students who study political science understanding the underlying concepts and what each position entails. However, we can go through some of them to better understand what they require.
Federal Government Jobs
A Manager of Government Sales for example will have a median annual salary of $103,943.
Graduates who aspire to become heavily involved in government politics can go on and find Masters in Political Science jobs in federal government. These include jobs in the executive or legislative branch of the government such as congressmen, advisors to politicians, legislative staffers, and leaders of political groups.
In these kind of jobs, graduates will obtain firsthand experience in how government departments are managed and organized, and be prepared for taking on more leading positions and why not, even become elected officials.
A policy analyst will have a median annual salary around $58,281 to $79,982 depending on the department they work in.
Policy Analysts usually have a Public Policy specialization of their Masters in Political Science. They take on policy that is being debated to pass or existing policies and analyze their implications and effects on the citizens and other sectors of a government. They use research skills and critical thinking to give their opinions on different policy proposals.
In their reports, they write the pros and cons of each policy and then proceed to give their opinion about how they perceive the adoption of a particular policy. If they are building a case for or against a certain policy, they can even try to get the support of other people for their initiatives.
Legislative assistants have a median annual salary of $37,833.
This job position is useful to all branches of government and other sectors. Legislative Assistants could work for assembly members, senators, or other elected officials to help them coordinate their communication with constituents.
This position entails the usage of writing and communication skills so as to write reports and editorials to send to the citizens and inform them about various governmental developments. They also respond to questions from citizens and help solve their problems within their jurisdiction and prepare policy briefings for their legislators and other staff.
Political Campaign Staff
A Campaign Manager for example will have a median annual salary of approximately $85,353.
Campaigns in politics are inevitable and they all need the staff. Depending on their specialization, political campaign staff can help develop and execute a campaign strategy and get their candidate elected. They build a favorable image of the candidate in the public’s eye to persuade them to vote.
They use their communication, persuasion, and organization skills to effectively campaign for their candidate by organizing events, raising funds, coordinating volunteers, and writing press releases.
The median annual salary of a lobbyist is around $66,429.
Lobbyists are people who negotiate with officials and other members of the government to try and influence policy in the favor of their clients. A lobbyist can for example negotiate to have stricter environmental regulation because their client owns an environmentally friendly company, or they can try to have more lenient environmental policies because the client’s business generates a lot of pollution.
Lobbyists use their negotiation and persuasion skills to work with all levels of government and they need excellent public speaking and networking skills.
Median annual salaries for political consultants range from $66,070 to $92,631, depending on their level.
Similar to business consultants, political consultants work with candidates for elected positions or those who have already been elected to formulate their strategies and gain a more favorable position in the eyes of the public.
Political consultants work with different interests groups and research their views on different policies then proceed to advise candidates on the positions they should take in different issues. Through this, they strive to pass policies and elect candidates with strategies that the public is seeking for.
Median annual salaries for intelligence analyst position are $77,210.
Another type of Masters in Political Science jobs is the intelligence analyst. This person works with governmental organizations such as the National Security Agency to ensure that governmental operations are running smoothly.
They collect information to predict the behavior of interest or terrorist groups so that they can forecast possible threats or attacks. They use research and writing skills to brief leadership and government staff so as to develop threat prevention plans and other security measures.
Skills that are gained during a Masters in Political Science are not necessarily only targeted at the governmental level. Graduates can also work in the private sector. Common positions include:
- Communications Officer
- Human Resources Specialist
- Public Opinion Analyst
- Public Relations Specialist
- Social Media Manager
Someone with a background in political science can become an excellent researcher. The research could be focused on political topics and many people work in think tanks or private firms to generate insights on consumer behavior, public opinions, and so on.
Researchers use their analytical and quantitative skills to devise plans, collect data, and report the findings.
Public Relations Specialist
The median annual salary of a public relations specialist is approximately $56,770.
PR Specialists use their persuasion, public speaking, and written communication skills to influence public opinion to favor their clients. They do this by organizing events, placing media stories and press releases, as well as writing reports.
Lawyers earn a median annual salary of around $115,820.
Having a Masters in Political Science, graduates develop their communication and debating skills to a level that they can effectively argue even in a court. For aspiring lawyers or those who want to be involved in the legal system, having the political science background can be a major advantage.
However, you cannot become a lawyer just by having a Masters in Political Science. You would also need to attend law school and pass the bar exam to become a licensed attorney.
Besides the public and the private sector, students with Masters in Political Science can also qualify for other jobs. These can be related to media, teaching, and becoming involved in the non-profit or non-governmental sector.
Some job positions in the media sector include:
- Press Officer
As for teaching, Masters in Political Science jobs that students qualify for teaching positions can be in secondary, high school, and two year colleges. To qualify for positions in universities, students would also need to complete their PhD in Political Science.
All in all, students with a Masters in Political Science degree can work in numerous jobs and sectors because the education that they get is high skilled and prepares them well for the labor market.