If you are interested in politics, business, or law, it might suit your interests to pursue a degree in political science. However, many who work towards this degree do so without a specific career goal in mind, or are unaware of just how many career options are available to them once they have received their degree. Political Science lends itself to a wide range of jobs, many of which students don’t even realize that they have training for. Below is a list of jobs that you can get with a Political Science degree, along with a description of each job. The list is not all inclusive, but does include some of the more popular and successful job titles available in today’s market.
Activists devote their time to changing a specific issue that they (or the organization they work for) see in their community. Activists usually seek out a specific cause that is close to their heart when looking for a career. While being an activist on an individual level is possible, in order to make this a career you need to find an organization that represents your cause. Your job as a community activist/organizer will be to, essentially, organize the activist movement. You will meet with local leaders, keep up with events that affect your cause, organize protests, and hold fundraisers.
Budget Examiner or Analyst:
A Budget Examiner or Budget Analyst is responsible for consolidating data for the presentation of budgets. They provide an overview of the financial status of operations at a company or within a department of the government. They also maintain accounting records and identify trends that may help or hurt the company. They evaluate the relationships between major program changes and the financial status of organizations, ensure that there are always adequate funds for programs within the organization, and employ cost-benefit analysis to review financial requests, assess program tradeoffs, and explore alternative funding methods.
Many attorneys receive a Political Science degree before continuing to law school. Because of this, many lawyers become politicians later in life, or many politicians pursue careers as lawyers before venturing into politics. Because you have to be well versed in the workings of law and government to pursue either career track, they go hand in hand and one can often lead to the other.
High School Government Teacher:
Many do not associate Political Science with a career in Education, but if you take interest in the subject then why not make it your job to foster the same interests in the up and coming generation? Political Science experts can teach Government, Economics, or Political Science courses at a high school level, depending on what courses the school you work at offers. To become a Political Science or Government teacher, you need to continue your education beyond your Political Science degree and receive your Master’s in Education as well. However, having a solid knowledge of Political Science lays the groundwork for what you will be teaching your students. It also leaves you opportunities to pursue politics after you retire, or even at a local level while you are teaching. Many Government or Economics teachers also utilize their knowledge to coach Speech and Debate or Mock Trial teams.
A lobbyist is a professional who works for a specific company or organization to voice the opinions of the private sector to politicians. They can work for either side of an issue, and both sides are likely to hire at least one lobbyist. They present the public’s case regarding an issue to the government in order to lobby for legislation that will solve the issue at hand. A degree in political science is extremely beneficial in this career because lobbyists are more or less politicians without offices. The degree lets you to know the ins and outs of politics and communicate your message in an effective matter.
Just because an organization is non-profit doesn’t mean they have endless donations or don’t have expenses to take care of along the way. Non-profit fundraisers are responsible for making sure groups like the Red Cross have the means to keep working towards their cause and making a difference. In order to raise funds for these organizations, a non-profit fundraiser must be very sociable and communicative. They must also have a strong understanding of their community and of the cause that they work for, as well as the fundraising and budgeting processes.
The general public can find everything that happens in politics a little overwhelming. Therefore, they may need someone to help everything make sense and to rephrase it for them, from digesting new laws to sifting through the political bickering and finding a candidate’s actual viewpoint. A news analyst interprets the news so that the general public can understand it and grasp how and why it is relevant to their lives. A political science degree will give you the ability to interpret the daily politics and communicate this information to the public. The career allows you to play a vital role in the government but also be a facilitator to the public.
An archivist is a career that is less associated with a Political Science degree for many. Archivists are in charge of maintaining artifacts or records throughout history. The job doesn’t require much human interaction, which is why many don’t correlate it with Political Science careers, because most Political Science majors crave interaction. However, there are political science majors who are more passionate about the actual data involved in politics than they are in politicians. Keeping track of the statistics and research involved in legislature and campaigns is an job that not everyone realizes gets done, and archivists of online political data are tasked with just that. This career is more of a road to behind-the-scenes politics.
Analysts are experts in a certain subject-matter who study and evaluate information from many sources. They develop meaningful and usable intelligence assessments from information sources around the world, including satellite surveillance, foreign newspapers and broadcasts, and human contacts. This information varies widely in terms of reliability, and often it is conflicting or incomplete. The various analyst positions are: Analytic Methodologists, Counterintelligence Threat Analysts, Counterterrorism Analysts, Crime and Counternarcotics Analysts, Economic Analysts, Intelligence Collection Analysts, Leadership Analysts, Medical and Health Analysts, Military Analysts, Political Analysts, Psychological and Psychiatric Analysts, Science & Technology Analysts, and Targeting Analysts.
The campaign manager oversees all aspects of a campaign, from the day-to-day operations to the hiring and management of staff, the coordination and implementation of the fundraising operations and ongoing coordination with the candidate. They are also responsible for creating and managing the campaign budget. This career requires excellent organizational skills, good interpersonal skills, and a strong understanding of fundraising and budgeting. It also requires a solid knowledge of not only your candidate’s platform but the platforms of your opposition. A Political Science degree will also help you by providing you with a solid knowledge of the campaign and election process.
Campaign Finance Director:
The finance director is responsible for raising the money that a campaign requires to accomplish its goals. The finance director works closely with the candidate, campaign manager, and a finance committee to meet the financial goals of the campaign. They are responsible for keeping the candidate on track with fundraising, preparing for and staffing call time, and overseeing all fundraising events. The position requires strong organizational skills, exceptional fundraising skills, and a strong understanding of budgeting.
Communications Director is a position that can either be directly involved with politics or not. The communications director is in charge of all of an organization’s interactions with the media. They build relationships with the press, communicate with the media as the key spokesperson, set up interviews, and identify media opportunities for a company or organization. They may help write and develop literature, draft speeches, and create copy for a web site. The communications director should have prior experience and contacts with the media, be a good writer and communicator, and be a pro-active thinker and strategist. Campaigns hire Communications Directors to perform these responsibilities directly for candidates, but companies and corporations often need Communications Directors as well. If this is a career that interests you getting a job at a company may help you build your skills to later become a Communications Director for a politician.
Field Director/Voter Contact:
This is another career that lets a Political Science major work directly within a candidate’s campaign. The field director is in charge of ensuring that a campaign spreads its message through direct voter contact. Their main responsibility is to develop a comprehensive plan that includes door knocking and phoning in order to identify voters and inform and persuade them about the candidate’s campaign. They may also coordinate voter registration efforts. They also coordinate the GOTV effort if there is no staff person or department specifically responsible for GOTV in a candidate’s campaign. The field director needs to be highly organized, energetic, capable of motivating and managing staff and volunteers, and able to manage large quantities of data. The number of field staff, and therefore the amount of staff that a field director will be managing, varies greatly depending on the size of the campaign.
Political Director/Constituency Organizer:
This is another career that involves working on a political campaign. The political director works with specific constituency groups, such as labor, seniors, educators, veterans, communities of color, new Americans, environmentalists, and college students, to organize their involvement with the campaign. Political Directors help develop a voter contact plan by coordinating with the field director regarding particular communities and by building relationships with the existing organizations that represent these communities.
Political Commentators interpret the news or offer opinions to readers, viewers, or listeners. Similarly to a News Analyst, Political Commentators analyze news and then write columns or commentary pertaining to the news based on personal knowledge and experience with subject matter for publication or broadcast. They gathers information and develops subject perspective through research, interview, experience, and attendance at political conventions, news meetings, sports events, and social activities. Political Commentator is roughly a combination of a News Analyst, a Reporter, and a Columnist position. When working for larger and more well-staffed companies, Political Commentators may fall into one of these three categories and handle one of those specific responsibilities more often than all three.
Policy analysts strive to influence political and social events, raise public awareness of issues, and shape government policy in these areas. They work within a large range of issues, from education to national defense. Working for policy research firms, nonprofit organizations and government agencies, policy analysts conduct research, analyze proposed policies, evaluate the effects of existing policies, and report their findings to government officials and members of the public alike. This can be broken down into two further positions. Public policy analysts identify new issues or policy areas to explore, collect and analyze information, then report their findings and propose new policies for addressing problems. Other policy analysts evaluate existing policies and government programs and their effects to determine if the policies need to be overhauled or removed. Many public policy analysts specialize in and build expertise in particular policy areas, while others function as generalists and research multiple issues that their community has concern for. Becoming a policy analyst often requires a continued education to receive a Master’s degree after receiving your Political Science degree.
Pollsters are often also known as survey researchers, and they typically work for research organizations or educational institutions. They conduct opinion polls for politicians, elected and appointed government officials, advocacy groups, think tanks, and corporations. This position requires the use of knowledge of statistical analysis, survey methods, and social behavior to question representative samplings of the general population or particular demographic groups about important public issues and to gain an understanding of various demographics’ views on the issues. They determine how and when a survey will be conducted, and generate the questions that are clear and unambiguous, as well as unbiased in structure. While it is possible to get a job as a Pollster with just a Bachelor’s degree, getting a Master’s gives candidates a large leg up in the job market.
While many think of Journalism as a career that requires an English or Communications degree, a large amount of journalism is dedicated to following politics. Therefore, with the right writing skills, Political Science majors may be more equipped to write on some of these issues than those who chose writing as their expertise. Much as a news analyst or political commentator must interpret politics for the general public, a Political Science journalist can provide insight and opinions regarding news that not all journalists can provide, due to their strong understanding of policy and governmental procedure. If you hope to report on political events as a career, getting a start covering class or organizational elections for your college’s newspaper is a great way to not only gain experience but to have work samples to show a potential employer once you’re out in the job market.
Mediator is a career for the Political Science major who is interested in law but not necessarily in becoming a lawyer. The heavy court caseloads and rising legal costs in today’s world have prompted many people to settle their legal disputes outside the courtroom through a process known as alternative dispute resolution. Mediators, also known as arbitrators and conciliators, guide the disputing parties through this process and help resolve their conflicts. Mediators facilitate negotiations and settlement between disputing parties by providing direction and encouragement. They work collaboratively with the parties and help find creative ways to reach a mutual solution. Specific duties vary widely depending upon practice setting but may include facilitating discussion and controlling the direction of negotiations, preparing court reports, social case histories, correspondence and other documents, implementing legislative enactments and court rules relating to a case, and keeping abreast of current trends, rules and legislation. This career requires no specific certification, and there is training available through independent Mediator programs.
City planners are responsible for determining the best way to use a city’s land and resources. They may help draft legislation, plan construction of new public housing or buildings, help with environmental protection initiatives, and suggest zoning regulations for private property. City planners may choose to specialize in transportation planning, community development and redevelopment, code enforcement, or environmental and urban design. However, those who specialize must keep the bigger picture in mind when creating plans for a city. City planners interact extensively with other professionals. They may need to hold public meetings with government officials, land developers, lawyers, special interest groups, and the general public in order to develop or address issues regarding city land use. They may also need to hear proposals and recommend denial, approval, or conditional approval, as well as make changes to these proposals as necessary. They must also defend their own proposals before legislative committees. For the most part, a Master’s degree is required to become a City Planner.
Corporate Analysts are responsible for improving a company’s competitiveness and performance. They do this across a broad spectrum of criteria. Many Corporate Analysts specialize in a particular area, such as inventory management, technology or corporate structure, or in a specific industry such as healthcare or information technology. Corporate analysts may oversee teams or work independently to solve problems and address challenges that a company is facing. In today’s complex, global business environment, firms continually require the skills of these experts to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. Corporate Analysts are either employed by large companies or taken on as independent consultants by smaller companies. They implement efforts to find new methods of cost control, increase efficiency or improve sales. They may research other companies and industries to compare and measure performance guidelines. They typically prepare reports that summarize their findings and recommendations and present their analysis to executive management in high-level meetings.
Foreign Service Officer:
A Foreign Service Officer’s mission is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad. Foreign Service Officers serve at one of over 270 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions in The Americas, Africa, Europe and Eurasia, East Asia and Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia. Some of these posts are in difficult and even dangerous environments. The Foreign Service provides a bulk of the staff for all American embassies or consulates. Officers can fall into a variety of specialties, including Consular Officers, Economic Officers, Management Officers, Political Officers, and Public Diplomacy Officers. While a Political Officer might be the most common choice for Political Science majors, it is not the only one.
Immigration officers work for either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Both USCIS and ICE are agencies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Regardless of the agency, immigration officers act as federal law enforcement officers. The exact duties of immigration officers depend on the agency and the exact job title the Officer holds. Immigration officers with the FDNS designation work for the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, which is a department of the USCIS. Their primary duties are to identify immigration benefit fraud. They conduct investigations and interviews to pursue illegal immigrants who falsify information on applications for asylum, visas, or citizenship. Immigration enforcement agents are uniformed ICE agents. Immigration enforcement agents enforce the laws against illegal aliens. They investigate reports of illegal immigrants, and apprehend them when they have been identified. If individuals are found to be in the United States illegally, immigration enforcement agents assist in detaining and deporting them. Immigration information officers are employees of the USCIS. They spend much of their time assisting applicants for citizenship. They review petitions and applications, counsel applicants on possible immigration benefits, and make decisions regarding eligibility. They also attempt to determine whether information on the applications is false or misleading. Immigration services officers are also agents of the USCIS. They research and analyze applications, petitions and supporting documentation, interview petitioners and applicants to assess credibility, and grant or deny petitions and applications.
Again, it is important to note that this list is not all-inclusive. There are many more jobs available to Political Science majors. The skills taught in this discipline are so wide-ranging that the job options seem to be never ending.
- Careers In Political Science – American Political Science Association
- Career: Community Organizers and Activists – College Board
- Budget Analyst Job Description – America’s Job Exchange
- Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science: Possible Career Paths – myFootpath
- Careers & Internships – Central Intelligence Agency
- Policy Analyst Job Description and Education – Houston Chronicle
- Pollster: Job Description, Duties and Requirements – Study.com
- Mediator – About.com
- City Planner: Job Description, Duties and Requirements – Study.com
- Immigration Officer Duties – Houston Chronicle
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