What Can I Do with a Degree in Political Science?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in political science. Find information on political science careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in political science.

Overview

Politics can be a challenging and frustrating arena for many individuals. Political ideologies and opinions shape our views on society and its development. Differences in opinion can create tension and anger. While many individuals attempt to avoid this process altogether, some are intrigued by the science behind politics and policymaking. For these individuals, a career in political science may be an appropriate choice. In its simplest from, political science is the scientific study of politics including political systems, policy making and social outcomes. Research undertaken in this field provides important insight into how societies make decisions and address social, economic and cultural challenges.

Although individuals interested in political science will be able to use their degrees to acquire jobs in politics, degrees conferred in political science are often classified more broadly as liberal arts degrees. As a result of this classification, individuals with degrees in political science may work in a number of different career fields. The wide scope of potential professions for political science majors is often what attracts students to the field. Additionally, experience gained in one area of politics can be used to change careers; an option that is important for individuals seeking variety in their occupation.

Careers

Careers in political science can focus on specific areas of policymaking and decision making. Additionally, careers in the field can focus more broadly on social issues and sociological decision making. Professionals working directly in the field of politics may use their education and expertise to evaluate international relations. Additionally, professionals may choose to conduct and analyze data from public opinion polls. Individuals working with the Gallup organization perform this type of work. Individuals focused on politics as a foundation for their career may also acquire positions in government, working with policymakers or as lobbyists.

Outside of the field of politics, professionals may apply their education and expertise to work more broadly as sociologists. In these roles, professionals may analyze crime data, social movements or public health information. Archaeologists, geographers and historians all have some background in political science. In these roles, professionals are able to examine data and make recommendations for potential policy changes to create a specific and desired outcome.

Salary

Salaries for political scientists will vary based on the specific area of specialization and the particular organization in which the individual is employed. In addition, salaries will be contingent upon the region of the country in which the individual resides. Washington, DC provides some of the highest salaries for professionals in the field of political science. Most professionals working in the field are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many choose to pursue a master’s degree in order to acquire additional job opportunities and career advancement options. Median annual salaries for political scientists in all fields were $104,130 in 2008. Professionals at the upper levels of their careers were able to earn median annual salaries of $146,880 while those at the lowest end of the pay scale earned $47,220. Most political science jobs are full-time positions that provide the professional with access to benefits including healthcare coverage and vacation time.

Job Outlook

In general the job outlook for professionals entering the field of political science is quite robust. The number of positions in this field is expected to grow at a higher than average pace through 2018. Political science has become such an important component of modern society, creating an increased demand for professionals. Individuals with advanced degrees that have superior quantitative skills (e.g., the ability to analyze numbers and statistics) will have access to a number of job opportunities. Because the field of political science is focused on liberal arts, individuals with degrees in this field that cannot find a job in politics may be able to utilize their education in related fields. Policy analysis, writing and research are just a few of the options for political science professionals seeking work outside of their discipline. Given anticipated job growth in the field and the additional areas where political science education can be applied, professionals with political science degrees should not have difficulty securing a job.

Recommended Schools

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