What Careers Can I Pursue with a MPA?

An Excelsior College Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is an excellent vehicle to break into a new employment field or to advance in a career. If you have a passion for public service and the betterment of your community, then the MPA is worth consideration as a degree option. Here are some of the many career opportunities available with a MPA degree.

Not-for-profits are agencies that range across the spectrum of government and community issues. There are “A-to-Z” association positions from agricultural groups to zoological parks. These agencies provide education, training, best-practices guidance, and other services that strengthen their memberships. Most not-for-profits specialize, so if you have a passion for a specific topic, this is a solid option.

Institutional interest groups are not-for-profit groups with private sector members. In this category, you will find associations that represent car dealerships, gun owners, mushroom growers, mortuary owners, propane gas distributors, K– 12 administrators, and a myriad of other interests. It is common for these organizations to advocate for their membership at state and federal agencies and with elected officials.

Lobbyists are people who specifically work to influence the political system for clients. Their activities include making or cutting regulations, getting government grants, and influencing various types of issue legislation.

An elected position is an option for a MPA graduate. Have you thought about running for your local school board, town council, county assembly, state legislature, or other elected position? A MPA degree will help you understand public sector budgets, human resource management, ethics, and other essential governmental functions.

Aspiring and current municipal, state, and federal government employees will find the MPA degree a credential for career advancement. If you are thinking about moving up the career ladder, then look at the requirements for positions above entry level or your current grade. These types of jobs depend on experience and education for promotions.

City and county managers and their staff positions are critical for local government. These managers work as facilitators of local elected government officials and local government agencies like the fire department, sheriff’s office, department of public works, office of parks and recreation, department of aging, and other public services.

First responders are government employees for whom a MPA is an outstanding fit. Fire and law enforcement academies train individuals for specific work—essential (and potentially hazardous) community service. Academies, however, do not teach those first responders who aspire for leadership roles how and what to present to the town board, what it takes to create an agency budget, or how to handle personnel issues like recruitment and discipline.

Government vendors provide goods and services to all levels of government from construction, to food services, to the latest in defense acquisition. This is a particularly important consideration for active-duty military personnel thinking about a career transition into the civilian sector.

Journalists, like most professions, have various areas of expertise from sports to entertainment, to finances, to politics. Politics is particularly is important whether covering news stories about local government, state bureaucracies, or federal agencies. Media outlets and associations both need talented writers that understand the workings of government. The MPA provides the knowledge to cover those public agency activities.

Higher education is an area for consideration by MPAs. Not all the activities that happen on a college or university campus are related to professors and students. Colleges need administrators to track financial aid, stay in compliance with U.S. Department of Education regulations, and work in course registration, records, and a slew of other activities. A MPA provides the needed skill set to implement and sustain complex plans and activities.

Business intelligence is yet another field that fits a MPA degree. This job involves research and writing about trends in various industries. This involves important information for clients that seek potential partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and / or information to influence government policies.

Economic development is a field that connects local and regional governments with the private sector through the promotion of job growth, tourism, and the attraction of new businesses. These agencies are represented by the local chamber of commerce, county and state agencies, and various educational institutions from vocational high schools to community colleges, to research universities.

The MPA is a versatile graduate degree option for people who seek entry into a new field, seek transition from a current job into a new one, or want to pursue career development. The common feature of all fields listed is the community-based nature of the work.

dhennessey
About dhennessey 2 Articles
David Hennessy, PhD is the former Associate Dean of the School of Public Service (SPS) at Excelsior College. SPS offers flexible, online graduate and undergraduate degrees in criminal justice, government, nonprofit management, public administration, and military leadership.