Learn about public administration jobs and different kinds of non-profit and public service work. Read about the different career paths you can take in public administration. Find out what training you need and where to start your job search.
Public administration jobs are jobs that serve the public. In many of these jobs, you will be working for the government – this could be local, state, or federal (national) government. Or you could work for a non-profit organization. This could be anything from helping people find housing to fundraising for a charity.
Public administration jobs and the services they provide often deal with solving problems. Problems are part of life, and there is always a demand for people who are willing to tackle these problems. If you like challenges, this is an exciting field to get into. A job in government and public administration is a place where you can help people and your community.
Which public administration job?
Public administration jobs can follow many different paths.
- Education administrator – education is a big part of government services. Professionals in this area of manage schools and colleges.
- Executive director – a director of a non-profit organization advocates for the organization, raises money, holds meetings and assign duties to the staff. Learn how to be a nonprofit executive director.
- Public administration consultant – consultants advise government agencies and non-profits on issues such as making policies, meeting budgets, and how to organize well.
- Mayor – mayors speak up for their cities and communities, work with the city council, and make plans to solve community problems. Mayors are elected officials.
- Program assistant – a program assistant helps organize programs and support the programs director – a good stepping stone to other non-profit jobs. Learn how to be a program assistant.
- Case manager – a case manager helps people with their particular situations, such as financial, legal, medical, work, or housing issues. Bilingual skills are in demand, so this would be an excellent career for refugees and immigrants.
- Program analyst – program analysts improve programs by evaluating and analyzing them, finding ways to make them more effective. This is valuable expertise as many programs in government and non-profits can be improved with outside help.
- Translator and interpreter – interpreters work with spoken words and conversations, and translators work with written words. The same person can do both jobs. These are great jobs for refugees and immigrants. Learn how to be a translator or interpreter.
- Housing specialists – people who work in these careers are responsible for helping families find affordable housing. Since the need for affordable housing is rising for refugees and immigrants, this will be a great career to look into.
- Research associate – if you are interested in conducting researches and interviews, and producing materials and reports, this would be an excellent career for you.
Is public administration the right job for me?
If you like working with the public, this is a good career field for you. Communication is important in the area – you will need good writing skills and good English skills.
Also, you can put your newcomer assets to good use! Your language skills and understanding of other cultures will be valued in any field where you are helping immigrants or dealing with other countries.
If you are not sure if this is the right career for you, you can take a self-assessment test at careeronestop.org. You can also watch a video about government and public administration jobs.
Where do I start?
You can get into a public service career in several ways.
Use your experience
You can get into some public administration jobs because of your previous work experience. People enter public administration from many other fields: science, marketing, health, business, and education. For example, if you have worked as a teacher, you could transfer into an administrative job in education. If you work for a small housing non-profit, you may move from an interpreter position into being a case manager who helps people find housing. If you are already a public employee in any job, that can help too.
Many employers will look for more specific credentials. They may want someone with an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in public administration, but often another degree in a related field will do – social work, management, and communications qualifications are all useful in public administration careers. A Master’s in public administration (MPA) is a top qualification for people who want to work in government. It usually takes another two years on top of your Bachelor’s degree.
A Certified Public Manager (CPM) is someone who has completed a certified training program. If you already a public employee, this would be a way to get into administration. Find a CPM course.
It is possible to get an MPA online while you work and gain experience as a public employee or with a non-profit. Find online schools with MPA Programs.
Find classes near you
Many community colleges offer courses that can lead to careers in public administration. A typical course will include public management, decision making, civil service, budgeting, public organizations, and public-sector administration. Find a community college near you.
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You can gain experience by volunteering at a local organization. You will learn how non-profit organizations work, improve your leadership and communication skills, and build your network. Find a place to volunteer at Volunteermatch.org.
What if I am already qualified in another country?
If you have a public administration degree in another country, Upwardly Global helps work-authorized immigrants, refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders (SIVs) restart their professional careers in the USA.
What else do I need?
Start your job search
Do you want to work for the US government, local government, or for a non-profit organization? Here are some options:
- Search online job websites
Idealist.org lists jobs with non-profit organizations.
- Use local government websites
To look for jobs with your state or city government, start with their official website. For states, it will be the name of your state followed by “.gov” – for example, Montana.gov. On the home page, you will find a tab that says something like careers, employment, workforce or jobs.
- Use federal government websites
The US government has a website for government jobs. Usually, you have to be a US citizen to work for the federal government, but there are exceptions. Your language skills may be needed, for example.
- Use your local employment center
Government employment centers in every city are free. They offer advice and keep a list of local jobs. They will include county and city and non-profit jobs. You can also get help there with resumes and job applications. They can connect you to job training and education. Find your nearest employment center.