Career Salary Overview

Budget Analyst $70K
Emergency Management $60K
Human Resource Managers $100K
Community Service Managers $60K
Urban and Regional Planners $70K
30K50K70K90K110K

Careers in Public Administration

In the simplest terms, public administrators protect and serve the interests of the public sphere. They work with governmental and nonprofit organizations, as well as businesses, to create, establish, promote and oversee initiatives that improve the welfare of communities. Professionals in this field often take on analysis and consulting roles. They review public policies to ensure they are helping more than hindering, adjusting the terms where necessary to improve on what an organization is hoping to accomplish. Some public administrators balance budgets and find ways to raise more funds to ensure there is enough money to implement projects.

Below, we explore several career paths people holding a Master of Public Administration (MPA) can pursue. What we offer barely scratches the surface of the opportunities available to those who want to serve the public. MPA graduates may be be able to find employment in local, state and federal government agencies; national and international nonprofits; and privately-owned businesses. Our guide is the best first step in exploring a new career.


How will a master's of public administration prepare me?

Upon completing an MPA program, graduates have the knowledge to:

  • Be flexible and move from the private, nonprofit sector to a role with a governmental organization with ease
  • Analyze current policies, practices and budgets and determine a plan of action that improves the running of an organization
  • Lead and manage organizations, including changing budgets, running fundraisers and leading team projects
  • Improve the lives and situations of communities through the creation of policies and programs based on an analysis of community needs
  • Know how public affairs and policies are created and how to apply them to public service

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts work with CFOs and project managers to determine the financial needs of an institution and create plans to improve the distribution of funds. They monitor an organization’s spending and find ways to cut costs and manage funds more effectively.


$69,280 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Collect and analyze financial data
  • Create budget proposals
  • Distribute funds to departments, programs and projects
  • Increase profit and efficiency

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Washington D.C.$91,920
  2. Alaska$84,290
  3. Maryland$83,770
  4. California$80,130
  5. Virginia$48,400

Job Numbers by State

  1. California8,210
  2. Texas4,340
  3. Virginia3,480
  4. New York2,900
  5. Florida2,470

Work Environment

  • Local, state and federal government agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Corporate and small business settings
  • Universities

Education Required

Though entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree, those interested in becoming a budget analyst can improve their chances for being hired by holding a master's degree in a field that prepares them to be analytical, such as public administration.

Specializations and Certifications

Budget analysts who work with the government at any level may want to become credentialed as a Certified Government Financial Manager.

Career Path

Though work experience is not required to be hired for entry-level positions, the more on-the-job experience budget analysts gain, the more opportunities they have to advance their careers and take on other responsibilities within their organizations.


Emergency Management

Emergency management directors most often work for local or state governments; they are in charge of ensuring communities, first responders and hospitals know what to do in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency. They work with each group to determine the best plan of action, and they are at the forefront of emergency response to assess any given situation and change the plan of action according to the resources needed.


$59,770 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Analyze and create emergency plans that reduce risk to individuals and property
  • Run emergency response training for first responders
  • Analyze and assess damage after emergencies
  • Find funding and supplies for repairs
  • Review emergency preparedness for first response groups, hospitals and communities

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Washington D.C.$122,630
  2. California$105,560
  3. Maryland$93,970
  4. Washington$85,300
  5. Florida$85,210

Job Numbers by State

  1. Texas660
  2. California600
  3. New York570
  4. Virginia510
  5. New Jersey510

Work Environment

  • Office settings within local and state government agencies
  • Disaster and crisis sites
  • Hospitals
  • Private companies

Education Required

A bachelor's degree in public administration suffices for entry-level positions as long as individuals have the requisite work experience. However, obtaining a graduate degree can improve emergency management directors' organizational and leadership skills, better preparing them to make decisions quickly.

Career Path

Individuals working as emergency management directors need extensive on-the-job training and experience working with fire safety, law enforcement or another emergency field in order to be prepared for any crisis that arises.


Human Resource Managers

Human resource managers take on the administrative responsibilities of organizations and act as liaisons between employees and management teams. They are often called upon to assess employee performance and hire new personnel where they find gaps. They may also analyze new ways to meet budgets and organizations’ performance goals.


$99,720 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Educate managers and employees on sexual harassment policies
  • Find ways to best use employees’ abilities to meet a company’s goals
  • Manage hiring and interviewing potential additions to the organization
  • Act as mediator when disputes arise
  • Create training and team-building programs

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. New Jersey$144,280
  2. Washington, D.C.$140,070
  3. Delaware$136,250
  4. New York$135,370
  5. Colorado$133,740

Job Numbers by State

  1. California15,300
  2. New York9,510
  3. Illinois6,780
  4. Texas6,640
  5. Ohio4,230

Work Environment

  • Business, government and nonprofit offices
  • Public and private companies

Education Required

Higher-level positions may require a master's degree, particularly in an area that demonstrates an individual's ability to manage and organize groups, but most entry-level positions in this field require a bachelor's degree.

Specializations and Certifications

Certification is not mandatory to become an HR manager, but those wishing to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the field may pursue credentials from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).

Career Path

Many employers determine an applicant's ability to lead, manage and organize based on previous work experience in HR departments. Internships or entry-level positions with HR teams or a company's financial department, or employment as a team manager are often the first step in employment as an HR manager.


Community Service Managers

Often with a focus on a certain demographic – e.g. children, homeless, unemployed – social and community service managers work with nonprofits, social services companies and government agencies to better the lives of groups of people. Depending on the size of the organization these managers work for, they could be in charge of everything from budget analysis and fundraising for programs to community outreach and recruitment.


$59,970 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Create services and programs based on community needs
  • Create budgets and raise money to fund community services
  • Collect and analyze program outcomes to determine their successfulness
  • Use findings to make changes to social services for better success
  • Present statistics on program effectiveness to organization’s board and funders

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Washington D.C.$88,080
  2. New York$82,510
  3. Rhode Island$81,850
  4. New Jersey$80,280
  5. California$76,110

Job Numbers by State

  1. California13,800
  2. New York10,640
  3. Massachusetts6,500
  4. Pennsylvania5,840
  5. Illinois4,630

Work Environment

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • State agencies
  • Homeless and crisis centers
  • Nursing or assisted living homes
  • Schools

Education Required

A bachelor's degree and work experience suffice for entry-level positions, but many organizations look for candidates with master's degrees. Those hoping to become directors should also hold a higher degree.

Career Path

Social and community service managers often need at least five years of work experiences as a social worker or in another role that works closely with a community or group of people. There are opportunities for advancement in this field through experience and education.


Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners work with a number of people, including public officials, architects and developers, to ensure facilities meet the needs of communities. Their main focuses often revolve around what is most needed to improve the lives of the groups within a certain area, either through a safe and clean park or shelter for the homeless population.


$65,230 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Determine if a planned facility will meet the needs of a growing population or community
  • Analyze demographic, census and economic data to support whether a project should be approved or denied
  • Assess the proposed development plan and suggest any needed changes
  • Organize the groups involved with the project
  • Work with the community and public officials to identify issues and goals; present plans for change to the public

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Nevada$83,090
  2. Connecticut$81,800
  3. California$80,480
  4. Alaska$79,340
  5. Illinois$78,550

Job Numbers by State

  1. California7,430
  2. Washington2,180
  3. Florida1,930
  4. Texas1,790
  5. Pennsylvania1,680

Work Environment

  • Parks and Recreation departments
  • Architecture firms
  • City consulting companies
  • Local and state governments

Education Required

Though many positions in this career field require a master's degree in urban planning, many positions accept applicants with an MPA.

Specializations and Certifications

Certification in this profession is optional; only those working in New Jersey are required to be licensed. Earning professional credentials may increase employment opportunities. The American Institute of Certified Planners offers certification examination prep and continuing education opportunities.

Career Path

Work experience requirements vary depending on the potential employees' backgrounds. Those who have degrees in public administration usually have an understanding of how to communicate effectively with, and find ways to meet the needs of, communities. Taking positions working under experienced planners, either through internships or entry-level jobs, provides future urban and regional planners with a knowledge of public policy and safety codes.