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Highest Paying Jobs for Political Science Majors

Highest paying jobs for political science majors besides presidentPolitical science might seem like a degree for senators, mayors, and governors, but it’s actually one of the most diverse and far-reaching educational opportunities available. It not only teaches students about government organization, it also teaches good communication, research, analysis, and more.

It’s an education that can lead you down many paths, so let’s look at some of the best jobs for political science majors…

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What is Political Science Anyhow?

It’s a bit of an elusive topic. What is political science anyhow, and what does it teach the students who complete these types of degrees? While the field obviously has a lot to do with politics, it also addresses a wide variety of topics, making it ideal for many different careers.

Political science is essentially a study of the theories and practices of government. It covers everything from the local city council to international organizations like the United Nations. Students who complete political science have a strong understanding of political institutions and organizations, as well as the practices of these organizations.

While each program is different, course in a political science degree might include American government, freedom of speech, voting, political research, research design, international relations, and constitutional law.

Summary of Skills for Political Science Majors

Once it’s all said and done, what skills will you have after graduating with a political science degree? Other than understanding the complex structures of government, what can you do that is helpful to both the public and private sector? As it turns out, there are lots of useful skills that you will gain when you complete a bachelors in political science.

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 especially important for political organizations and private companies.

You’ll 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 the organization.

Creating the List

To create our list, we looked at three important factors, all through data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). First was salary, which the BLS currently lists as a median salary with information from 2016. For perspective, the average salary for all occupations in the U.S. was $37,040.

Second, we looked at expected job growth, which the BLS provides as expected growth between 2016 and 2026. This information is slightly speculative, but they use a wide variety of research to land on these numbers. The average job growth across the entire nation is expected to be 7%, so anything below this number is essentially a decline, as it’s 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.

Most Lucrative Entry-Level Jobs for Political Science Majors

#1   Arbitrator

Avg. Salary: $59,7700
Job Growth: 11%
Education: Bachelor’s

Negotiations and dialogue between organizations can be difficult, but arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators seek 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 can expect a median salary of $59,770, but if you work your way into the top 10%, you should earn over $123,000. 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 11% expected growth, there is a strong potential for a steady career.

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#2   Public Relations Specialist

Avg. Salary: $58,020
Job Growth: 13%
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 organizations identity, and may even evaluate advertising. The median pay for this career is right around $58,020, but the top 10% can expect a quality salary over $110,000. Best of all, the career is expected to grow by 9% and you will only need a bachelor’s degree to acquire one of these political science jobs.

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#3   Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Avg. Salary: $48,000
Job Growth: 15%
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 is $49,500, but the top 10% in these jobs for political science graduates can earn over $80,260. 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, as some point you will need training in paralegal subjects. With 15% expected growth, the career should have plenty of future opportunity.

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Highest Paying Political Science Jobs

 Lawyer  Average salary: $118,160

We usually think of lawyers as giving passionate speeches to an enthralled jury and court observers. But lawyers do more than that; they provide advice, conduct legal research, prepare files, and interpret laws and past rulings for their clients. In many cases, lawyers never give a speech 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, you can expect a salary around $118,000, 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. 

 Political Scientist  Average salary: $114,290

After all the jobs we 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 (48%), 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 2016 for political scientists is $114,290, while the top 10% can earn over $160,000. While the pay is excellent, you will generally need a master’s degree to land one of these political science major jobs. Another downside is that you will only see 2% growth, which is well below the national average. 

 Public Relations Manager  Average salary: $107,320

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 $107,320, while the top 10% can expect a pay of over $205,000! The job is expected to rise by 10% 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. 

 Economist  Average salary: $101,050

Economist study the distribution of money by analyzing many factors, including production, goods and services, and government policy. The 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 $100,000 and the top 10% can expect to make over $181,060, making the career one of the best political science major jobs. While a political science degree is a great start, it will require a master’s degree that is heavily focused on economics. With 6% expected growth, this career should maintain steady numbers.

 Management Analyst  Average salary: $81,330

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 a political science education. The median salary for this career is $81,330, while the top 10% command salaries over $149,000. If that wasn’t enough, these careers in political science have an expected growth is 12%, meaning there should be plenty of job available in the future. Also, the job can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, although a few years of on-the-job experience is generally required.

 Operations Research Analyst  Average salary: $79,200

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 $79,200, but the top 10% can expect to earn over $132,660. 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 27%, you can rely on this job to have plenty of opportunities.

 Urban & Regional Planners  Average salary: $70,020

There are many people and scores of organizations that have different ideas for how certain land should be used. It’s the job 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 earn a median salary of over $70,000 a year and have a strong top pay of over $105,310. Professionals in these political science jobs can expect a career growth of 13%, making it one of the fastest-growing careers in this area of study. However, you will likely need a master’s degree from an accredited planning program.

 Community Service Manager  Average salary: $64,680

Working in this field, you will be responsible for coordinating and supervising social services and community organizations. Your job can include working with community members to target new programs, overseeing staff, analyzing data, and writing proposals for new social and community programs. You would also be responsible for giving an honest assessment of current programs. This job has a wonderful median income of over $64,000, making it one of the best jobs for political science majors. If you work your way into the top 10%, you can expect an average salary of over $110,000. As an added advantage, the career is expected to grow by 16%. Although only a bachelor’s degree is required for most positions, this is a management role so as much as five years of direct experience may be required.

 Historian  Average salary: $55,110

Historians don’t just read history books and regurgitate information. Working in one of these political science careers, you will actually gather historical information and analyze that data. You’ll 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 $55,110, the pay is well above the national average. The top 10% in these careers for political science majors can earn over $102,000. 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.

 Survey Researcher  Average salary: $54,470

If you work in one of these jobs for political science, you will design and conduct research surveys for a wide range of reasons. Surveys that you design 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 can expect to earn roughly $54,000 in a year, while the top 10% earn over $100,000. While the pay is excellent, the job growth is expected to be only 1%, which essentially amounts to a decline when comparing to national growth rates. Also, a master’s degree in a field in areas like research and statistics will often be required in addition to your bachelor’s in political science.


Selling Your Skills as a Political Science Student

So how can land a job after your political science education? You can start by focusing on the skills you gained, especially the communication and analytical skills that are needed by practically every organization and company in the country. You should also discuss specific projects that you worked on that demonstrate these skills.

Be sure to tailor the skills you discuss to that position. 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 Education You Need to Launch Your Success

You can work in one of these outstanding political science jobs. Whether you can start today with your political science bachelor’s degree or you need to earn a bit more education, these lucrative and satisfying jobs will put your degree to good use. And, remember, get educated before you enroll to ensure that your money is being well spent. 

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