What Can You Do with an MPAIn today’s political and social climate, public administrators and industry leaders are more important than ever. In a 2019 article about the challenges of public administration, Terry Gerton, president and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, predicted that the future of the field will be shaped by economic, environmental, social, and technological shifts. “[I]t is critical that governments at all levels take steps to transform and modernize, to ensure they can tackle these challenges in new, innovative, and effective ways,” Gerton said.

It is clear that in order to meet our country’s changing needs, our leaders and public administrators will need to update their skill sets. Public administration is defined as the implementation of public policy, but the field extends beyond government positions. People with public administration backgrounds can prepare to meet the challenges coming to many industries in the public and private sector including healthcare, education, nonprofits, and business.
Whether you want to lead in a government job or work in a nonprofit, finance, or healthcare, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree might be the right fit for you. An MPA can help you gain and polish skills including data analysis, critical thinking, and written and oral communication. Some MPA programs give you the opportunity to specialize in a particular area, like healthcare or nonprofit management.

MPA Careers

A career in public administration can give you opportunities to create policies that make a difference in people’s lives and lead organizations through a time of rapid change. This article will look at master’s in public administration careers in terms of job responsibilities, skills needed, and salary.

According to PayScale, the average salary of an individual with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is $69,305 (information taken on June 30, 2021). An MPA can prepare you for the following careers (see below for full descriptions of each of these careers):

Source: Payscale

Budget Analyst

A budget analyst works with government officials to evaluate budget proposals and examine budget estimates for accuracy and completeness. Once a project is complete, a budget analyst may analyze the difference between the actual cost and proposed cost of the project. They also gather and use budgetary information to inform decisions within the organization or company. Budget analysts will find jobs primarily in public administration, in addition to educational services; and professional, scientific, and technical services.

As public administration makes up the largest portion of budget analyst job openings, it is no surprise that these openings can be found primarily near Washington, D.C. Below are the three states (and a district) that have the most current budget analyst job openings (as of July 2021):

  • Virginia
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland

Source: Burning Glass

A budget analyst spends most of their time working with numbers. They also need to have certain organization and planning skills in order to anticipate a project’s needs. Below are some of the defining skills needed by a budget analyst, according to Burning Glass:

  • Budgeting
  • Budget analysis
  • Accounting
  • Planning
  • Financial Management

An MPA program with a specialized track for government management can help you develop the skills in research and analysis necessary to excel as a budget analyst.

Elementary and Secondary School Administrator

Education administrators oversee both initiatives and staffing at their schools. They evaluate curriculums, teachers, and programs to determine how effective and efficient they are. Administrators need to have excellent people skills to work with their staff members, as well as organizational and time management skills.
An MPA program can help you build skills that are necessary for a career in school administration, like communication and critical thinking. In addition, some MPA programs feature capstone projects or internships that will allow you to utilize the skills you learned within your field.
Below are some of the defining skills for an elementary and secondary school administrator, according to Burning Glass:

  • Teaching
  • Budgeting
  • Special Education

Grants Administrator

Many people with an interest in public administration pursue roles in the non-profit sector. A grants manager or administrator works with a particular organization (or multiple organizations) such as healthcare agencies, schools, and education centers to secure funding. The organizations vary, but are often non-profits, healthcare organizations, or schools and education centers. Grants administrator openings are mostly found in educational services, public administration, and healthcare and social assistance.

A grants administrator needs to wear a lot of hats, with responsibilities that might range from working with finances to overseeing colleagues. Someone who wants to pursue grants administration may benefit from an MPA with a track in nonprofit management. Below, Burning Glass outlines some of the top defining skills of the profession, with the first two associated with a premium salary:

  • Project management
  • Staff management
  • Accounting
  • Grant writing
  • Budgeting

Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrators’ jobs involve a mix of managing finances and record keeping, supervising and evaluating personnel, and clerical duties. Healthcare administrators primarily work in healthcare facilities, though there were also job postings in finance and insurance as well as professional, scientific, and technical services.

A successful healthcare administrator needs to have both organizational and people skills. An MPA with a track in healthcare management has coursework that is tailored to the healthcare industry like a course in community health assessment. According to Burning Glass, the top skills a healthcare administrator needs are:

  • Budgeting
  • Patient care
  • Scheduling
  • Staff management
  • Mental health
  • Case management

Urban Planner

A city or urban planner works closely with government officials, lawyers, developers, and special interest groups to plan, improve, and maintain the quality of life in urban areas. City planners administer policies and plans in regard to transportation, community facilities, and public utilities. They need to be able to recommend approval or denial of proposals, and to gauge the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of projects.

Urban planners primarily work in public administration. A smaller percentage also find jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services; and transportation and warehousing. Though urban planners can find work across the United States, the most current job postings are in the southwest and southeast. States like Texas have seen a growth in their city populations, making urban planners necessary to match their changing needs.

Below are the states with the most current urban planner job postings (as of July 2021):

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Virginia

Source: Burning Glass

Successful urban planners need to have well developed decision-making skills and be detail oriented in order to manage projects effectively. Below are some other top skills recommended for urban planners:

  • Transportation planning
  • Community planning
  • Land use
  • Scheduling
  • Regional planning

Source: Burning Glass

As seen above, one of the benefits of an MPA program is its versatility. If you are considering pursuing an MPA, take special note of things like their course options and internship or capstone opportunities to find the one that is the best fit for your goals.

About the online MPA program at Pace University

The 100% online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program from Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences prepares working professionals and aspiring administrators to lead in public service. Students can choose a general course of study or choose from one of three tracks: government management, healthcare management, or nonprofit management. MPA graduates find a wide range of opportunities within federal, state, and local governments as well as advocacy and community organizations. Through flexible, hybrid, and cutting-edge learning environments, our students get the quality education they want and the upskilling they need to be successful in the changing world.

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