A political science degree provides graduates with a versatile skillset applicable across industries. Critical thinking, research, communication, and analysis of complex political systems prepare students for impactful careers in law, government, journalism, education, business, and more.
This comprehensive guide explores the diverse professional opportunities available with a political science degree.
If you’re short on time, here are some top careers for political science majors: lawyer, policy analyst, legislative aide, journalist, consultant, educator, campaign manager, lobbyist, diplomat.
Government and Public Office
For political science degree holders, a career in government and public office can be an exciting and fulfilling path to pursue. With a deep understanding of political systems and policies, these professionals play a crucial role in shaping and implementing government initiatives.
One career option for political science graduates is to work as a policy analyst. These professionals are responsible for researching and analyzing various policies and their potential impact on society.
They assess the feasibility and effectiveness of proposed policies, making recommendations to government officials and agencies. A policy analyst’s role requires strong analytical skills and the ability to navigate complex political landscapes.
Another career path within government is that of a legislative aide. Legislative aides provide support to elected officials, assisting them in the development and implementation of legislation. They conduct research, draft reports, and communicate with constituents.
This role offers a unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the legislative process and contribute to shaping public policy.
Foreign Service Officer
For those interested in international relations, a career as a foreign service officer may be a great fit. Foreign service officers represent their country’s interests abroad, working in embassies and consulates.
They engage in diplomacy, negotiate treaties, and provide assistance to citizens living or traveling in foreign countries. This role requires strong communication and negotiation skills, as well as a deep understanding of global politics and cultures.
A political science degree can be a stepping stone towards a successful career in the field of law. The analytical and critical thinking skills developed through studying political science can be highly valuable in the legal profession.
Becoming a lawyer is a common career path for political science degree holders. Lawyers play a crucial role in society, advocating for clients and providing legal advice. They represent clients in court, negotiate settlements, and draft legal documents.
Political science graduates with a deep understanding of government, politics, and policy-making can excel in this profession.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for lawyers was $126,930 in May 2020, with job opportunities expected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029. The demand for lawyers is driven by various factors, including increased legal complexities and the need for legal services in areas such as healthcare, intellectual property, and environmental law.
For those who are interested in the legal field but do not want to become a lawyer, a career as a paralegal can be a great option. Paralegals provide support to lawyers by conducting legal research, drafting documents, and organizing case files.
They play a vital role in the efficient functioning of law firms and legal departments.
While a paralegal may not have the same level of responsibility as a lawyer, the job can still be intellectually stimulating and rewarding. Political science graduates with strong research and writing skills can thrive in this role.
The median annual wage for paralegals was $52,920 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Another career path for political science degree holders in the legal field is that of a legal assistant. Legal assistants provide administrative support to lawyers and paralegals. They assist with tasks such as scheduling appointments, drafting correspondence, and maintaining case files.
While legal assistants may not engage in legal research or provide legal advice, their role is essential in ensuring the smooth functioning of legal offices. Political science graduates with strong organizational and communication skills can excel in this position.
The median annual wage for legal assistants was $52,410 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whether one chooses to become a lawyer, paralegal, or legal assistant, a political science degree can open up exciting opportunities in the field of law. The skills acquired through studying political science, such as critical thinking, research, and communication, are highly transferable and valuable in the legal profession.
For more information on careers in law, you can visit Bureau of Labor Statistics – Legal Occupations.
Journalism and Media
A political science degree can be a great foundation for a career in journalism and media. Political science graduates possess strong research, writing, and critical thinking skills, which are essential in this field.
They have the ability to analyze complex political issues and communicate them effectively to a wide audience.
Many political science graduates pursue careers as journalists. They report on current events, conduct interviews, and write articles or produce news segments for various media outlets. As journalists, they have the opportunity to cover political campaigns, government policies, and international relations.
Their background in political science allows them to provide in-depth analysis and context to their reporting.
Political science degree holders can also work as news analysts. They provide commentary and analysis on political events and policies, either through print, broadcast, or online platforms. News analysts offer insights and perspectives on the impact of political decisions, helping the public understand the complexities of the political landscape.
Their expertise in political science gives them credibility and enhances their ability to provide informed analysis.
Political science graduates can also pursue careers as communications specialists. They play a crucial role in crafting and delivering messages for political campaigns, government agencies, or non-profit organizations.
Their understanding of political processes and public opinion allows them to develop effective communication strategies. They may write press releases, speeches, or manage social media accounts to engage with the public and shape public perception.
According to a survey conducted by the American Political Science Association, over 30% of political science degree holders work in media-related occupations. The diverse career paths available in journalism and media make it an appealing option for those with a passion for politics and a desire to inform and engage the public.
If you are interested in a career in journalism or media, consider exploring internships or freelance opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Building a strong portfolio of published work or developing a network of professional contacts can greatly increase your chances of success in this field.
For more information on careers in journalism and media, you can visit the Poynter Institute or the Pew Research Center websites. These resources provide valuable insights into the industry and offer guidance on the skills and qualifications needed to thrive in this competitive field.
With a degree in political science, there are various career paths you can explore within the business services sector. These roles often require strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to effectively communicate and work with diverse groups of people.
One possible career path for political science degree holders is to become a management consultant. Management consultants work with organizations to identify and solve complex business challenges. They analyze data, develop strategies, and provide recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Political science graduates bring valuable skills to this role, such as their ability to analyze and interpret complex information, understand various stakeholders’ perspectives, and identify potential political and regulatory implications.
Their understanding of government policies and political processes can also be beneficial in advising clients on navigating the business landscape.
Market Research Analyst
Another career option for political science degree holders in the business services sector is to become a market research analyst. Market research analysts collect and analyze data to help businesses understand market trends, consumer behavior, and competitors.
Political science graduates can excel in this role because they have strong research and analytical skills. They are trained to gather and interpret data, evaluate multiple sources of information, and draw conclusions.
Additionally, their understanding of political systems and public opinion can provide valuable insights when conducting research on government policies and their impact on markets.
A career as a fundraiser is another possibility for political science degree holders within the business services sector. Fundraisers work for nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, or other entities and are responsible for securing financial support from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Political science graduates possess excellent communication and persuasion skills, which are essential for building relationships with potential donors. They are also well-versed in public policy issues and have a deep understanding of government funding and advocacy efforts.
These skills can be instrumental in crafting compelling fundraising appeals and identifying potential funding sources for various causes.
It’s important to note that while a political science degree can provide a strong foundation for these careers, additional skills and experience may be required. It’s beneficial to gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or relevant coursework to enhance your qualifications in these areas.
Education and Academia
For those with a political science degree who have a passion for teaching and research, a career in education and academia may be the perfect fit. Here are three potential career paths within this field:
Becoming a professor in the field of political science allows individuals to share their knowledge and expertise with students at the college or university level. Professors often conduct research, publish scholarly articles, and teach a variety of courses related to political science.
They play a crucial role in shaping the next generation of political thinkers and leaders.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for postsecondary political science professors was $85,600 per year as of May 2020, with job growth projected at 9% from 2019 to 2029. This makes it a promising career choice for those interested in the intersection of politics and education.
High School Teacher
Another career option within the field of education is becoming a high school teacher. High school political science teachers have the opportunity to inspire and educate young minds about the importance of politics, government, and civic engagement.
They develop lesson plans, facilitate class discussions, and assess student learning.
The average salary for high school teachers in the United States is $61,660 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Teaching political science at the high school level can be a rewarding way to make a positive impact on the next generation of informed citizens.
For those who wish to work closely with students but prefer a non-teaching role, becoming an academic advisor is a viable option. Academic advisors provide guidance and support to students, helping them navigate their academic journey and make informed decisions about their coursework and career paths.
Although specific salary information for academic advisors in the field of political science is not readily available, the average salary for academic advisors in the United States is $45,340 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This role allows individuals to combine their knowledge of political science with their passion for helping students succeed.
Nonprofit and NGOs
For political science degree holders who are passionate about making a difference in their communities, working for a nonprofit organization or non-governmental organization (NGO) can be a rewarding career path.
These organizations often focus on addressing social, environmental, or political issues and rely on the expertise of individuals with a background in political science to help guide their work.
A program coordinator in a nonprofit or NGO is responsible for overseeing and managing various initiatives and projects. They work closely with different stakeholders, such as volunteers, donors, and community members, to ensure the successful implementation of programs.
As a political science degree holder, you can leverage your knowledge of policy-making processes and government structures to develop effective strategies and advocate for change. This role requires strong organizational skills, excellent communication abilities, and the ability to multitask.
One crucial aspect of nonprofit and NGO work is securing funding to support their initiatives. Grant writers play a vital role in this process by identifying potential funding opportunities, writing persuasive grant proposals, and managing relationships with funders.
With a political science background, you can use your research and analytical skills to identify funding sources that align with the organization’s mission and goals. Additionally, your understanding of policy and government processes can help you craft compelling narratives to demonstrate the importance of the organization’s work.
Community organizers play a crucial role in mobilizing communities around specific issues and advocating for change. They work closely with community members, local leaders, and other stakeholders to raise awareness, build coalitions, and initiate grassroots campaigns.
With a political science degree, you can bring a deep understanding of political systems, policy-making processes, and social issues to the table. This knowledge can help you develop effective strategies to engage and empower community members, navigate political landscapes, and drive meaningful change within communities.
Working in the nonprofit or NGO sector can provide you with a unique opportunity to combine your passion for political science with your desire to make a positive impact on society. By pursuing a career as a program coordinator, grant writer, or community organizer, you can contribute to meaningful projects, advocate for change, and work towards creating a better future for all.
With its emphasis on critical analysis, research, communication, and political systems, a political science degree is highly versatile and applicable across industries. Graduates are prepared for impactful roles in law, government, journalism, business, education, nonprofits, and more.
The analytic, writing, and leadership skills gained make political science majors attractive candidates in many fields.