The independent, trusted guide to online education for over 24 years!

Jobs for Political Science Majors: The Highest Paying

Businesswoman signing contract. African American business woman sitting at table in office, holding pen and writing in document. Legal expertise concept

Careers in political science are sprinkled throughout today’s marketplace, not only in government, but in communications, research careers, analytical professions, and more.  But what are the best jobs for political science majors?  With the right degree and the right career moves, students of political science can move through their fields with security, lucrative paychecks, and the accomplishment of a successful pathway.

A master’s degree is required to become an officially titled Political Scientist, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The average salary made by political scientists as of May 2020 was recorded at $125,350, and the rate of job growth currently sits at 9% within the next ten years.  So, there are plenty of reasons to become a political scientist, but there are dozens of other careers worth pursuing with a political science degree.

In this article we will survey the highest paying jobs for political science majors, as well as define the field and how to start a career.  Read on to learn more about the opportunities awaiting political science majors today.

What is Political Science?

What is political science, and what do students pursuing a political science degree learn?

While the field has to do with politics, it also addresses a wide variety of topics ranging from communications and research to collaborative leadership and administration, making it ideal for many different careers.  In a nutshell, political science is social science.  Political scientists are chiefed with describing and analyzing political institutions and processes.

The political science field covers everything from local city councils to international organizations like the United Nations. Students who complete political science degrees have an understanding of political institutions and organizations, as well as their practices and effects on public and private sectors, individuals, etc.

While each program is different, courses in a liberal arts political science degree might include current events, public policies, political research, research design, international relations, and constitutional law.

How to Enter the Political Science Field

Careers in political science abound, there are particular steps to take to gain entry into the field. This article recommends the following steps to enter the political science field:

  1. Earn an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in political science or a related field;
  2. Pursue a job in your area of expertise, for example, become a legal assistant if you’ve attained an associate degree in poli sci. Explore public relations with a bachelor’s. A master’s degree could lead to leadership positions in your field;
  3. Continue your education by expanding your professional network, pursuing certificates in political science, and more.

The Skills of Political Science Majors

Once it’s all said and done, what skills will political science major graduates utilize most in the field? Other than understanding the complex structures of government, what can they do that is helpful to both the public and private sector? As it turns out, there are many useful skills gained when completing, say, a bachelor’s in political science.

#Trending: Spring Hill College – Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics & Economics

One of the most important skills, and one of the most broadly-used, is the basic understanding of how to examine written documents and other forms of communication and make critical analysis of this information. This can apply to virtually any business or organization, and it is especially important for political organizations and private companies.

A bachelor’s degree in political science helps students understand how to engage with social problems and create comprehensive strategies for meeting these challenges. In many cases, this could mean gathering information through surveys for insight on policies (in the case of politics) or products (in the case of businesses), then using this information to enhance strategies for the success of the organization.

Effective communication is another important skill that students of political science will gain. By learning the best techniques for both written and verbal communication, graduates are able to project ideas in a clear and well-thought-out manner, leading to better understanding through all levels of their organization.

Political science degrees may offer concentrations and specializations to better tailor a program and meet students’ professional goals.  Some examples of poli sci concentrations include:

  • Bilingual journalism
  • Pre-law
  • Foreign relations
  • Criminal justice
  • Urban studies

Most Lucrative Entry-Level Jobs for Political Science Majors

To create the following lists, GetEducated checked three important factors through data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. First was salary, which the BLS currently lists as a median salary with information from 2020. For perspective, the average salary for all occupations in the U.S. was $56,310.

Next, we looked at expected job growth, which the BLS provides as expected growth between 2020 and 2030. The average job growth across the entire nation is expected to be 7%, so anything below this number is essentially a decline, not keeping up with American growth.

Finally, we looked at the typical educational requirements. While some specific positions may require more or less education, this is the general degree level you will need to work in these political science jobs.

1. Arbitrator

Avg. Salary: $66,130
Job Growth: 10%
Education: Bachelor’s

Negotiations and dialogue between organizations can be difficult, but arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are trained to settle disputes and resolve conflicts outside of the courts. With a political science degree, you’ll have a better understanding of how to bring separate parties, which are often feuding, together in a way that is beneficial to both groups. This can include simply organizing up the meeting or guiding the long-term communication. If you land one of these political science major jobs, you may expect a median salary of $66,130, but if you work your way into the top ten percent, you could earn over $131,000. Many of the positions only require a bachelor’s degree, although some of the top jobs will require master’s degrees or even law degrees. With 10% expected growth, there is a strong potential for a steady career.

2. Public Relations Specialist

Avg. Salary: $62,810
Job Growth: 11%
Education: Bachelor’s

In today’s world, organizations need to maintain a positive public image, and they often hire public relations specialists to enhance their standing in the local, national, or global community. PR specialists write press releases, respond to public questions, maintain the organization’s identity, and may even evaluate advertising. The median pay for this career is right around $63,000, but the top 10% can expect a quality salary over $118,000. Best of all, the career is expected to grow by 11% and you will only need a bachelor’s degree to acquire one of these political science jobs.

3. Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Avg. Salary: $52,920
Job Growth: 12%
Education: Associate’s

Paralegals assist in the legal process by organizing files, conducting research, and drafting documents for use in cases. They may be tasked with the investigation of facts, gathering information, or arranging data in a way that it can be used by lawyers. They may even have to write correspondence between legal parties and court staff. All of these tasks can be supported by an education in political science. The median salary for paralegals in 2020 was $52,920, but the top 10% in these jobs for political science graduates can earn over $85,000. While an associate’s degree is generally all that is required, the career can be enhanced with a bachelor’s degree in political science. However, at some point you will need training in paralegal subjects. With 12% expected growth, the career should have plenty of future opportunities.

The 10 Highest Paying Political Science Jobs

1. Survey Researcher

Average salary: $59,870
Job Growth: 4%
Education: Master’s degree

If you work in one of these jobs for political science majors, you will design and conduct research surveys for a wide range of reasons. Surveys can be used to gather factual information, such as income levels or employment stats, but they can also be used in opinion research. It will also be your job to analyze the data and, depending on the position, make recommendations to the company or agency that funded the research. People in these political science jobs earned roughly $59,000 in a year as of May 2020, while the top ten percent earned over $110,000. While the pay is excellent, the job growth is expected to be only 4%, which essentially amounts to a decline when compared to national growth rates. Also, a master’s degree in fields such as research and statistics will often be required in addition to a BA in political science.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Applied Statistics from University of Kentucky

2. Historian

Average salary: $63,100
Job Growth: 5%
Education: Master’s degree

Historians don’t just read history books and regurgitate information. Working in one of these political science careers, a historian will gather historical information and analyze that data. They then have to communicate that information in a way that other people find relatable and, hopefully, interesting. From writing reports to providing guidance with a historical perspective, a historian can rely heavily on their political science education. With a median income of $63,100, the pay is well above the national average. The top ten percent in these careers for political science majors can earn over $116,000. The career typically requires a master’s degree with a focus in historical subjects. The growth is expected to be 5%, which is only slightly below the national average.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Cultural Heritage Management from Johns Hopkins University

3. Community Service Manager

Average salary: $69,600
Job Growth: 15%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Working in this political science field means being responsible for coordinating and supervising social services and community organizations. The job can include working with community members to target new programs, overseeing staff, analyzing data, and writing proposals for new social and community programs. Community service managers are also responsible for giving an honest assessment of current programs. This job has a wonderful median income of over $69,000, making it one of the best jobs for political science majors. If you work your way into the top ten percent of earners, you can expect an average salary of over $115,000, and this career is expected to grow by 15%.  This position is a management role so as much as five years of direct experience may be required although only a bachelor’s degree is needed.

4. Urban & Regional Planners

Average salary: $75,950
Job Growth: 7%
Education: Master’s degree

There are many people and scores of organizations that have different ideas for how certain land should be used. It’s the job of urban planners and regional planners to meld these concerns into a coherent plan. They may meet with public officials, gather data, conduct field investigations, or even administer government plans. Most of all, they need to stay current on zoning laws and building codes to provide the best input for community development. Planners earned a median salary of over $75,000 in 2020 and had a strong recorded pay for the top earners of over $118,200. Professionals in these political science jobs can expect a career growth of 7%, an average rate of growth for careers in this area of study. However, you will likely need a master’s degree from an accredited planning program.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Urban & Regional Planning / Sustainability from University of Florida

5. Operations Research Analyst

Average salary: $86,200
Job Growth: 25%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

By using advanced mathematics and analytical problem solving, research analysts help organizations gain insights on important issues that affect their performance and finances. They may be called upon to investigate issues, identify potential problems, and guide the company, agency, or non-profit to better decisions. The median salary for people working in one of these political science major jobs is $86,200, but the top 10% can expect to earn over $144,000. The job requires a bachelor’s degree, but you will need experience in mathematics and analytics to complement your political science degree. With an expected growth of 25%, you can rely on this job to have plenty of opportunities over the next ten years.

6. Management Analyst

Average salary: $87,660
Job Growth: 14%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Management analysts propose ways to improve organizational processes and efficiencies, often advising managers on ways to enhance profits by reducing costs or taking advantage of financial opportunities. Tasks like gathering data, communicating ideas, and merging groups all play into political science education. The median salary for this career is $87,660, while the top ten percent command salaries are over $156,000. If that wasn’t enough, these careers in political science have an expected growth of 14%, meaning there should be plenty of jobs available in the future.  A few years of on-the-job experience is generally required for a management analyst. 

7. Economist

Average salary: $108,350
Job Growth: 13%
Education: Master’s degree

Economists study the distribution of money by analyzing many factors, including production, goods and services, and government policy. They may research economic issues, conduct surveys, analyze financial data, and forecast market trends. Working in one of these political science jobs, you will generally find yourself employed by the federal government, although research firms and consulting services also employ economists. The median pay is above $108,000 and the top 10% can expect to make over $198,000, making the career one of the best political science major jobs. A career as an economist will require a master’s degree that is heavily focused on economics. With 13% expected growth, this career should maintain steady numbers throughout the next ten years.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Science in Economics from Purdue University

8. Public Relations Manager

Average salary: $118,430
Job Growth: 13%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

A public relations specialist can move up the ladder into a PR or fundraising manager role, which is one of the best jobs for political science. These professionals will plan and coordinate efforts to maintain the image of an organization, and, depending on the position, may coordinate campaigns to raise funds for non-profit organizations. This job has a strong median salary of $118,400, while the top 10% can expect a pay of around $208,000! The job is expected to rise by 13% in the future, and while many positions only require a bachelor’s degree, you will need a few years of direct experience before getting hired into the managerial role.

 9. Political Scientist

Average salary: $125,350
Job Growth: 9%
Education: Master’s degree

After all the jobs listed, we have to discuss the political scientist; after all, it’s the one career that is most obvious for political science major jobs. Political scientists often work for the federal government, while about a quarter work for professional and technical services. They perform many duties, including research of political subjects, collecting and analyzing data, and evaluating the effects of policies. The median pay in 2020 for political scientists was $125,350, while the top 10% earned over $170,000. While the pay is excellent, you will generally need a master’s degree to land one of these political science major jobs. The career currently projects 9% growth, which is right along with the national average.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Science in International Relations from Liberty University

10. Lawyer

Average salary: $126,930
Job Growth: 9%
Education: Doctoral or professional degree

Lawyers provide advice, conduct legal research, prepare files, and interpret laws and past rulings for their clients. In many cases, lawyers do not give speeches to a jury, but instead act as behind-the-scenes advisors and advocates. A political science degree is an excellent start, as it helps future lawyers interpret laws and regulations enacted by elected officials. Due to the challenges of the career, the pay for a lawyer is often excellent. In this career for political science majors, you can expect a salary around $126,900, while the top 10% will earn over $208,000. Job growth is expected to be around 9%, but as you likely know, the educational process for a lawyer is rigorous.

Selling Your Skills as a Political Science Student

So how can you land a job after your political science education? Skills such as communications and analytics which are needed by practically every organization and company in the country are used by successful political science majors focus.  Many students of poli sci will have created a portfolio that includes their specializations, projects, internships, and professional networks.  When building a resume or preparing for an interview, political science majors should discuss specific projects that they’ve worked on that demonstrate the skills most relevant to the position they are applying for.

For example, if you are seeking work as an urban planner, be sure to discuss any experience that applies to local government, community outreach, and area organization.

Get the Online Political Science Degree You Need to Launch Your Success

You can work in one of these outstanding political science jobs. Whether you can start today with a bachelor’s online political science degree program, or an online political science master’s, these lucrative and satisfying jobs will put your education to good use.  GetEducated provides information about the best online degrees for aspiring political scientists, analysts, planners, and more, making it easier for you to find and pursue the program that sets you apart and your career ahead.

Browse Now

Search Over 1,600+ Schools with 30,000+ Degrees