With the ongoing financial crisis and recession, public policy has become even more essential than ever to maintaining the well being of communities. Public administration professionals play a prominent role in directing public policy, and opportunities in public administration and public policy jobs are growing rapidly. However, there is stiff competition for these desirable, well paying jobs. To be successful in standing out from the competition, you have to present your qualifications in the best possible light.
Choose an Accredited Program
Choosing the right program is essential to launching and maintaining a successful career. However, you should not be concerned if you cannot afford an expensive private college or university. Likewise, you should not give up hope if you are not admitted to an institution with a prestigious reputation.
What is important is ensuring that the program you enroll in is accredited. The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration is an accrediting agency for public administration programs in the United States, while the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation: Affiliation and Participation is an accreditation agency for programs in Europe. If you have questions about the accreditation of a program you’re considering, don’t be shy about asking.
Earn the Right Degree
While it is possible to obtain entry level jobs with a Bachelor in Public Administration or other bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree is usually required for higher level positions. You can opt to earn a Master of Business Administration degree; however, many MBA programs lack coursework that addresses the policy issues that public administration officials must deal with. If you intend to be a policy researcher or work in academia, a Master of Public Policy degree may be the best choice. However, if you wish to work in public policy administration, a Master of Public Administration degree is probably a better choice.
Select a Specialty
It’s not enough just to get a degree. Even if you enroll in an MPP or an MPA program, you should decide on a field of concentration, and complete the bulk of your coursework in the program in that concentration. Depending on your concentration, you may want or need to complete courses in other subjects to round out your degree. For instance, if you want to specialize in planning, learning GIS techniques is wise. If you intend to work in environmental policy, coursework in chemistry is probably a good idea. To get a job in public health policy, one or two courses in biology may be a good idea.
Obtain Related Experience
Public administration programs that offer internships or co-op programs provide an excellent opportunity to obtain work related experience while you complete your degree. However, if your program does not offer such training for its students, you should seek out internships or related experience on your own. While getting paid experience is desirable, don’t dismiss the possibility of working in one or more volunteer positions. You may gain valuable contacts for full time work after you graduate – and you can still list the experience on your resume.
For Further Reading
- American College of Healthcare Executives: Which Degree Should I Pursue?
- European Association for Public Administration Accreditation: Affiliation and Participation
- National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration: MPA and MPP FAQ
- University of San Francisco: Online Master of Public Administration – Resources
- What Is Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions
- World Wide Learn: What Is Public Administration?
Neil Brandenberger is an independent education researcher and freelance writer. He has recently been sharing his findings on higher education blogs. Learn more about online degrees by visiting the link.
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