Average Salary of a Political Science Major

The salary earned by the average political science graduate can vary greatly, depending on the degree level and job location. In addition, the type of degree also makes a difference in salary; for example, those with a Bachelor of Science degree typically earn a slightly lower median salary than those who hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Graduates with master's or Ph.D. degrees in political science generally earn more than those holding bachelor's degrees.

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Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that around 5,570 people were employed in 2013 throughout the United States as political scientists, with more than half of those working for the federal government (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the median salary for political scientists was $100,920 a year in 2013. Job growth in this field was estimated to be slower than average between 2012 and 2022.

However, because education programs in this degree field combine humanities and rhetorically based coursework with statistics, demographics and other quantitative subjects, political science students receive a versatile education and may find jobs in a variety of industries besides those classified as political science.

Possible career options for those with a bachelor's degree include jobs in law, media, government service, education at the middle or high school level and non-profit organizations. Job titles may include market analyst, research assistant, writer or policy analyst. Those with a master's in political science often find work in research or administration within their master's concentration field or teach in secondary schools or community colleges. Most political science professors in four-year colleges or universities have earned a doctorate degree.

Salaries of Graduates with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science

Generally, the type of bachelor's degree that graduates earn can impact their salaries. According to 2014 statistics released by PayScale.com, graduates with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in political science earned annual median salaries around $41,713 with less than one year of experience, increasing to $61,305 with 5-9 years of experience; at 20 or more years on the job, these workers made over $90,000. The median earnings for those with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree were $39,270 with less than one year of experience, $59,514 at 5-9 years, and more than $91,000 at 20+ years.

Median Salaries and Job Titles for a Bachelor of Science in Political Science Graduate

Graduates with a B.S. in political science may work in jobs that might seem to have little relation to undergraduate political science studies. PayScale.com reported that the median salaries and key job titles for graduates with a B.S. in political science in 2014 included:

  • Paralegal: $42,865
  • Attorney: $80,000
  • Retail store manager: $41,712
  • Operations manager: $67,290
  • Executive assistant: $50,000
  • Legal assistant: $38,000
  • Office manager: $33,000

Median Salaries and Job Titles for a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Graduate

The median yearly salaries and key job titles for those with a B.A. in political science in 2014, as reported by PayScale.com, include the following:

  • Paralegal: $43,989
  • Executive assistant: $43,758
  • Operations manager: $54,523
  • Administrative assistant: $36,522
  • Account manager: $46,002
  • Executive director: $67,314
  • Office manager: $43,135

Salaries and Job Titles of Graduates with a Master of Arts in Political Science

Job titles for those who hold master's degrees in political science are generally more closely related to graduate coursework. According to PayScale.com, graduates with an M.A. in Political Science in 2014 often held the following job titles with corresponding median yearly salaries:

  • Executive director: $72,700
  • Foundation program officer: $64,400
  • Research analyst: $50,000
  • Nonprofit program coordinator: $40,000
  • Legislative assistant: $48,000
  • Policy analyst: $58,958
  • Executive assistant: $55,000

Salaries of Graduates with a Political Science Doctorate Degree

According to PayScale.com, in 2014 political science doctorate degree holders had a median annual salary of $53,500 at 1-4 years of work experience. At 5-9 years, the median was $62,510, while those with 20 or more years of experience earned a median of $107,507.

Industries Employing Political Science Majors

As reported by the BLS in 2013, the industries that employed the most political scientists with degrees of all levels were the federal executive branch of government, scientific research and development services, management and technical consulting services, colleges and universities and the local government. The breakdown of the annual 2013 mean wage for political scientists in these industries is as follows:

  • Federal executive branch: $114,580
  • Scientific research and development services: $94,530
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $88,050
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools: $67,580
  • Local government: $67,530

Geographic Concentration of Employed Political Scientists

The BLS delineates the states and cities with the most political science workers using statistical data and includes the 2013 annual mean wage for each location.

Salary Info: States with the Most Political Science Workers

  • District of Columbia: $109,230
  • Virginia: $111,590
  • California: $75,460
  • Texas: $69,450
  • Maine: $71,610

Salary Info: Metropolitan Areas with the Most Political Science Workers

  • Washington, DC: $109,440
  • Seattle, WA: $64,180
  • San Francisco, CA: $71,380
  • New York, NY: $114,690
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