People who have invested the time and money to receive a Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA) degree will have job and pay opportunities that reflect their level of skill and education. Salary levels for public administrators vary depending upon whether or not the job is in the private or public sector. If graduates are working for local government, the region of the country and size of government unit will also impact salary levels. Areas of expertise, specialty and experience also impact salaries in public administration. What you can do, where you live, and the organization you work for will determine how much you earn with an MPA degree.
Local Government Salaries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all local government managers earned a mean annual wage of $87,070. Managers working in smaller cities earned an average of $78,850, while Chief Executives in larger units of government were paid a mean annual salary of $112,550. Other areas of specialty include financial managers, which averaged $99,760 and Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers, earning $101,470. Schools and hospitals also employ managers with degrees in public administration, with similar levels of compensation.
Administrative Services Managers
A specialty field open to MPA graduates is the Administrative Services Manager. This position may be employed by a government agency, regional government association, or private organization. Administrative Services Manager salary varies by region, with the highest pay found on the East Coast, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Administrative Service Managers in New Jersey are the highest-paid, with a mean annual wage of over $130,000. The lowest pay is found in Oklahoma, with a mean annual wage of $79,990.
Private Sector Employment
Graduates in this field also work in the private sector, primarily for non-profit organizations, but also for some private businesses, including consulting firms. Private sector salaries are frequently less than public salaries. A government affairs executive working for a nonprofit organization will earn approximately $100,000 a year, while program directors earn $60,000 to $80,000, depending on their location and level of responsibility. Private sector MPA graduate salaries start at $40,000 a year in some regions, particularly the South and upper Midwest.
Hospital and School Administration
Specialized careers in public hospital and school administration are related jobs available to graduates in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hospital administrators earned an average of $104,770 in 2016. Elementary and Secondary School administrators usually have degrees in education or school administration, but district-wide administrator positions may also be offered to MPA program graduates. Their salaries averaged $91,220 in 2016, according to the BLS.
Jobs in this sector are available to some graduates with bachelor's degrees, but more frequently, administrative and management jobs are offered to graduates of MPA programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average growth in the sector between now and 2024. The area of the country you will choose to work in will affect your future salary. Public administrators tend to earn more in the Northeast, regardless of their area of specialty. You will also earn more if you have a specialty in human resources, information technology, or financial administration.
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