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A Rewarding Career: Public Administration Salary Ranges at a Glance

Public Administration

A growing need exists for public administrators and leaders in government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and nonprofits. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree provides individuals with the necessary skills to build careers in this field.

An MPA is an advanced degree that prepares professionals for success in the public sector by learning strategic, financial, and community management skills applicable to positions within townships and cities as well as municipal, state, and federal organizations.

Norwich University’s online MPA program, for example, teaches students how to become organizational leaders and implement solutions to real-world administrative challenges in an ever-evolving public sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for public administrators will increase as government organizations prioritize environmental programs, improve energy efficiency, and incorporate new technology into their processes. The aging baby boomer population also increases the need for social and community services. An MPA degree can give professionals the skills and experience needed to fill these roles and make positive changes in the public sector, government, and nonprofit organizations.

Individuals attaining an MPA degree gain a competitive edge for exciting career opportunities and competitive MPA salary ranges.

Increased Competency in Fundamental Skills

An MPA provides students with the skills and competencies needed as leaders in public administration. In the Harvard Business Review, Prof. Robert L. Katz cites technical, human, and conceptual skills as essentials for effective public administrators.

Public administrators should be adept at communicating and collaborating with their teams and superiors. These skills are critical when dealing with complex ethical and legal issues. Public administrators also should possess specialized knowledge of the tools, techniques, and analytical processes within their discipline. Finance managers, for example, should understand the procedures and processes of budgeting and accounting. Public safety officers should understand law enforcement, corrections administration, and critical incident management.

Offering nine concentrations, Norwich’s MPA degree program allows students to hone skills for a specific discipline. Courses such as Methods of Policy Analysis, Economics and Decision Making, and Crisis Management cultivate the skills of public administration professionals for success in their field.

Wide Range of Career Opportunities

MPA graduates build a stronger foundation to pursue an array of career opportunities with varying public administration salary ranges.

Public Works Director              

Public works directors oversee municipal or city departments such as water and power, traffic control, and waste management. They’re responsible for managing administrative staff, budgets, resource allocation, and compliance with safety regulations. They also work with government officials and constituents to ensure that operational processes run smoothly and are maintained for optimum performance. According to PayScale, public works directors earn an average annual salary of $76,320.

An MPA concentration in Public Works and Sustainability can prepare professionals to become public works directors. Courses in this concentration develop skills in communication, decision-making, municipality management and sustainability strategies. 

Litigation Manager             

Litigation managers handle organizations’ legal matters. They preside over civil lawsuits, managing legal professionals, and organizing caseloads. Litigation managers should have a strong understanding of public administration policy and legal and ethical guidelines for decision-making. The average yearly salary for litigation managers is $76,857, according to PayScale.

The Policy Analysis and Analytics concentration within the MPA program teaches the policy analysis, policy implementation, as well as finance and economic theories. These skills are critical for litigation managers to successfully executive their job.

Parks and Recreation Director              

Parks and recreation directors oversee city and town parks programs. These professionals manage and train park staff, maintain safe facilities, and set budgets. Parks and recreation directors are the go-to authority on new parks projects and initiatives for improvement. PayScale reports that parks and recreation directors earn an average annual salary of $59,515.

Students interested in being parks and recreation directors can choose an MPA concentration in Municipal Governance. This program focuses on the financial and managerial skills needed to manage parks and recreation departments in both rural and urban areas.

Finance Manager             

Finance managers in public administration build and maintain budgets for different government agencies or departments. They also work in the public and nonprofit sectors, proposing strategies for minimizing costs, streamlining processes, and tracking expenses. As managers, they lead teams and coordinate with other managers to meet the overall financial goals of a government agency or nonprofit organization. Finance managers earn an average annual salary of $90,044, as reported by PayScale.

An MPA concentration in Fiscal Management is a vital stepping stone to a financial management career in public administration. Courses in this concentration teach students how to balance budgets, analyze financial reports, and build accounting, budgeting, and contracting skills for working in a wide range of organizations.

Access to a Growing Field

The public administration field is growing, opening a range of career opportunities in different sectors, including the following, according to the BLS:

  • Administrative services manager jobs are expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026, adding 28,500 jobs.
  • Social and community service manager jobs are expected to grow by 18% from 2016 to 2026, adding 26,500 jobs.

Earning an MPA can help prospective administrators pursue the career and sector of their choice, whether in a government entity or a nonprofit organization.

Forging a Rewarding Career in Public Administration

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich maintains a leadership position in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant, applicable curricula that enable its students to make a positive impact on their workplaces and communities.

Norwich University’s online MPA program helps students develop the skills needed to build better cities and towns, stronger government, and more successful nonprofits. Divided into nine concentrations including Criminal Justice and Public Safety, International Development and Influence, Public Administration Leadership and Crisis Management, Procurement and Government Contract Management, Fiscal Management, Municipal Governance, Nonprofit Management, Public Works and Sustainability, and Policy Analysis and Analytics, the rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum helps produce knowledgeable, innovative administrators who can lead in a demanding and an evolving public sector. 

Recommended Readings

An Overview of the Importance of Public Administration
7 Careers for Master of Public Administration Graduates
6 Elements of Public Administration


Master of Public Administration (MPA), Investopedia
Administrative Services Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Social and Community Service Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Master of Public Administration, Norwich University
Skills of an Effective Administrator, Harvard Business Review
Average Public Works Director Salary, PayScale
Average Litigation Manager Salary, PayScale
Average Parks and Recreation Director Salary, PayScale
Average Finance Manager Salary, PayScale


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