Masters in Public Administration Jobs and Careers
Master of Public Administration Jobs and Careers
The MPA is a degree that provides training for the unique aspects of public administration work which are applicable to many of the career specializations in the public sector. The budgeting process for a public health department, a public works department, an emergency services department or a social services agency is the same in all instances. It's an annual process, requires development by the department administrators and defense in multiple reviews, by more senior administrators and legislators and a chief executive. Personnel management is similar in city or county departments with regard to seniority issues, staff reductions, benefit issues, etc. An MPA graduate should be conversant with management issues in most city, state and regional agencies and should be a qualified candidate for employment consideration.
- City Manager: This is not an entry level position; it usually requires progressive levels of experience in order to be considered. City managers often hole the position in several cities over the course of a career, especially in the smaller cities. It requires polished administrative skills and good personal skills as well since the city manager usually serves at the pleasure of the city council.
- County Administrator: This is another position that requires years of progressively senior experience in order to reach the top slot, but there are many MPA graduates who have successful careers as deputy county administrators, preferring to work as administrators and planners rather than handling the political chores associated with keeping a county board of supervisors happy.
- Public Health Services Manager: There are many graduates emerging from school with degrees in public health management or health administration today. However there are also MPA programs that offer specialization in public health, and there are smaller jurisdictions where the public health services are managed by someone trained in public administration rather than health services.
- Public Works Executive: Traditionally public works administrators have been engineers or technicians that have come up through the ranks. However in recent years cities and counties have been turning to trained administrators to run these departments because the primary issues are budgetary and trained administrators have the skills to manage budgets that must be designed to manage projects that overlap the annual allocation of funds.
- Public Housing Authority: Working in this field requires careful budget management, extensive work with security personnel, administration of facilities maintenance, and often a highly charged political environment with public housing residents. By the time a public administrator reaches a position of seniority in a public housing department, he or she will usually have some experience in the field at a junior level.
- Social Services Director: There are social work specialists, public health specialists, public housing specialists and homeless program professionals but often oversight for all of these services falls to a professional public administrator who can look on various service agencies as operational units with goals, budgets, administrative structures and public issues - all of which require detached management rather than advocacy.
- Transit Services Administrator: It takes technical professionals to manage metropolitan transit systems such as subways, streetcars, bus systems, and trains, but it requires a professional manager to oversee maintenance goals rather than maintenance activities, revenue streams rather than revenue management, service quality rather than equipment management, and personnel performance as a key component of employee relations.
- Budget Director: This position may be in a department filled with trained accountants and public finance professionals but once again, general administrative skills may be what are called for. A budget director has to be able to understand the financial details of a budget but once it is completed, must be able to sell it to administrative executives and elected officials. That task requires more than accounting skills.
- Civil Service Manager: Civil service departments are not what they once were, but HR management in a municipality, county or state still may often require labor relations skills, negotiation work, benefits management and seniority issues. In recent years, staff cutbacks have also become an annual issue. Whether the term is Civil Service Director or Human Resources Manager the job still requires detailed administrative skills.
- Legislative Director: This job description can mean many things but here we are referring to someone who oversees the development and writing of proposed legislation and shepherds it through the final approval process by the legislative body. City or county attorneys or state attorneys sometimes handle this role, but some jurisdictions also have legislative specialists that are schooled in public management who are assigned the task of producing a bill that meets legislative intent.