Public Administration Degree Salary Guide 2020

Wondering what a public administration salary is like? We explore roles and the income ranges you’ll find.

Public Administration Degree Salary Guide 2020

“What does a public administration salary look like?” The path to public good is a personal one, but odds are nearly every person entering the field wonders what kind of salary they can expect. When you think about public administration your mind may automatically drift toward thoughts of government and nonprofit roles, but there are lucrative roles in the private sector as well. What you do with your degree and experience is entirely up to you. You could find roles in government service, nonprofit organizations, or the private and public sectors. Below, we’ll explore roles in each of these categories and discuss the potential public administration salaries for various careers.

Government Service

Government policies, rules and regulations are evolving every day, and now more than ever employees at the local, state and federal levels are recognizing the need to develop new skills. Professionals that wish to succeed in federal, state or local government agencies will need to develop the organizational skills to lead government initiatives. In this sector, public administration officials will manage agencies and analyze departmental performances and budgets. They also need to connect and cooperate with a global community of professionals to effect change for the better.

Budget and fiscal management: $73K- $208K1 The budget and fiscal manager functions at the local, state and federal levels of government and has general responsibility for the creation of their area’s budget and the policies, processes and procedures associated with it. This role regularly presents comprehensive analyses and financial projections in support of budget decisions and plays a critical role in their region’s determination of its purpose, duties and service levels. These managers direct and organize the budget team and lead all related projects.2

Public relations managers: $64K- $208K3 Public relations (PR) managers develop their organization’s public image or identity and identify target audiences and the best ways to reach them. Their goal is to help their client or organization efficiently communicate with the public. PR managers draft press releases and assist and inform the organization’s executives and spokespeople of any urgent matters. They also delegate tasks to staffers and supervise and review all activities.4

Fundraising managers: $64K- $208K3 Fundraising managers create and carry out fundraising strategies by identifying and contacting possible donors and creating and planning various functions to generate donations. These professionals may meet with donors in person, and this role may also require applying for grants. Their job is to manage the advancement toward accomplishing the organization’s fundraising goals. As a manager, this role also requires assigning, overseeing and reviewing the staff’s activities.4

Nonprofit Organization

There are more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations and charities recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).5 As this number is expected to continue increasing at a rapid rate, organizations will be searching for more well-rounded employees. The most in-demand professionals will be leaders with a more robust knowledge of budgeting, administration, legislation and legal processes.

Nonprofit program manager: $37K- $77K6 Managers of nonprofit organizations supervise their organization’s projects and assure they align with the group’s stated objectives. They ensure the organization’s programs are well run by overseeing budgets, employees, activities and any products they may create. These managers may work with everyone from new volunteers to board members, so they must be capable of translating complex information to individuals who may not be trained in a particular task. Their highest priority is ensuring that the organization is meeting its goals. Tracking activities, organization methods and event costs, and then modifying them as needed, are vital steps in achieving those goals.6

Nonprofit director of development: $42K- $102K7 The director of development is responsible for creating and executing a strategic plan to generate funds in the most cost-effective and time-efficient way possible. This usually requires building a large donor base to secure effective fundraising. The director may be responsible for the financial health and business development of the organization. This role entails fundraising, grant writing, researching foundations and corporations that participate in charitable giving, and supervising or implementing alternative fundraising tactics.7

Grant writer: $36K- $67K8 Every year, public and private foundations award billions of dollars in grants. To be qualified to receive funding, an organization or individual must have a goal that aligns with the grant’s stipulations. Grant writers are the ones who research, draft and submit proposals that assist organizations or individuals in securing grant funding. They search through detailed lists, databases and donor sites to identify grants that match their organization’s objectives. Once they find a match, they’ll create a cover letter and project narrative and compile supporting documentation to submit in their proposal. This proposal should guarantee the organization meets the eligibility requirements and provide a budget outline. In addition to writing and researching, grant writers may need to respond to funders’ questions about their proposal, develop relationships with potential donors and document the grant’s impact once the project has ended.9

Public and Private Sectors

While many associate public administration with public sector service and nonprofit careers, many of the same skills that work in the public sector are applicable to the private sector. The job titles, values and objectives may vary between the two sectors, but the skills tend to overlap. In fact, many private sector roles may directly or indirectly collaborate with the government to achieve their business goals.

Public policy consultant: $58K- $142K10 Public policy consultants may work with private companies, trade associations, charities, not-for-profit organizations and foreign governments. They use their understanding of the political system to offer public policy advice to their clients, and thus must continuously maintain and update their knowledge of significant legislative changes. Public policy consultants must seek out key players in the decision-making process at local, regional, national and international levels and maintain relationships with them in order to assist clients with promoting their interests effectively. Their day-to-day tasks may also include writing newsletters, briefs, campaign materials and press releases.11

Human resource manager: $66K- $201K12 Most organizations want to recruit, motivate and retain top employees and match them to jobs that fit their skills. Human resources (HR) managers achieve this goal by directing the administrative functions of human resources departments. Their work entails supervising employee relations, achieving regulatory compliance, and delivering employee-related services such as payroll, training and benefits. HR managers also advise top executives regarding the organization’s strategic planning and talent management problems. They identify techniques to maximize the value of the organization’s employees and guarantee that employees are being used as efficiently as possible.12

Executive director: $68K- $208K13 Executive directors exist in nearly every industry, and their roles depend on their organization’s size. In a smaller organization, the executive director may be in charge of purchasing, hiring, training and daily supervisory responsibilities. In larger organizations, executive directors generally focus on strategic planning and creating policies to help improve performance and increase productivity. No matter the size of the organization, an executive director will likely be required to analyze financial statements, sales reports and other performance indicators, as well as institute and implement departmental or organizational goals, policies and procedures.13

Increase Your Earning Potential

Because master’s degree holders earn, on average, 16 percent more in salary than those with only a bachelor’s degree,14 a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree could help you reach salary outcomes at or near the upper end of these ranges. A master’s degree can also open doors to further career development that may not be possible with only a bachelor’s degree.

If you’d like to increase your knowledge and earning power while opening the door to countless opportunities, consider how Kent State University’s online MPA program can help you achieve these goals.


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