Career Information for a Degree in Public Administration

A degree in public administration prepares students for leadership positions in fields such as state and local government, health care administration, non-profit management and human resources management. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are available for those interested in a career in public administration.

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Career Information

Public administration students learn how to set public policy, communicate effectively, create budgets and understand financial reports. Organizing people and assets, mediating conflicts and designing programs are also covered in bachelor's and master's degree programs. Health care administrators, urban planners and city managers are all examples of public administration positions. Other possible careers include non-profit management, court administration and community organization.

Health Care Administrator

Health care administrators manage organizations such as hospitals and clinics. Duties can vary widely, depending on specialization and level within the organization. Clinical health care administrators might oversee trauma care or surgery departments, while general administrators manage the overall functioning of an entire practice or organization. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of health care administrators, also called medical and health services managers, is expected to increase by 23% from 2012-2022, reflecting the overall growth of the health care industry ( The BLS also reported that, as of May 2012, median earnings for this field were $88,580 per year. A master's degree in public administration is often necessary for these positions.

Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners help local governments determine how land will be used in order to solve various public problems. In addition to planning the building of parks, roads and other infrastructure, they also help write environmental and social legislation. In 2012, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $65,230 for urban and regional planners and predicted 10% growth in employment between 2012 and 2022. Some urban planners have earned a master's degree in public administration.

City Manager

City managers fill the role of chief executive for cities that operate under a council-manager governmental system. Their job responsibilities are largely similar to other government executives. They oversee city departments, hire and fire administrative personnel and departmental heads, create and adhere to a yearly budget each and communicate with citizens. Unlike mayors, city managers are usually appointed by the city council and do not represent a political party.

Competition for this position is strong because of the large number of qualified applicants who aspire to the office. Salaries vary from city to city, but median annual earnings as of February 2014 were $86,247, according to While not always required, many city managers have a master's degree in public administration or a similar area. A bachelor's degree is often the minimum education required.

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