Pursuing a Career in Local Government

Government Official Taking Notes at a Conference TableIf you want to pursue a career in local government, consider getting a master’s degree in public administration (MPA). The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) reported that almost 50 percent of all Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduates in 2011 were working for the local, state or federal government within six months of graduation.

Not sure which position in local government might be right for you? Here’s a quick guide to some of the top public administration careers.

Top Jobs in Local Government

There is a wide range of opportunities in local government, including those in finance, healthcare, urban development, marketing, acquisitions, human resources, and information technology. Some potential careers in local government include:

City Manager — If you’re interested in local politics, this may be the right role for you. The city manager is elected by the city council to act as chief executive officer of the city government. They are responsible for carrying out the council’s wishes and liaising between elected officials (e.g., council members, mayors) and the administration (e.g., judges, school superintendents). This position requires years of management experience in local government, and an MPA degree is often preferred. Annual salary varies based on city size and location, ranging from $40,000 to over $200,000.

Information Services Director — As the leader of the information services division, the information services director evaluates the city’s technology needs and recommends services such as software, internet, and telecommunications. They also nurture relationships with regional partners and collaborate with other city departments. In addition to management experience, candidates need to have a proven track record in IT, vendor relations, and service delivery to be eligible for this position. The average annual salary for a city information services director nationwide is about $90,000.

Public Works Director — While duties may vary from city to city, the public works director usually oversees sub-departments within public works (e.g., sanitation, utilities, engineering) and handles construction and maintenance projects for the city. They may also be responsible for handling vendor contracts, presenting project updates and other information at city council meetings, and producing written reports. The average annual salary for a public works director nationwide is about $80,000.

Fiscal Policy Analyst — In addition to analyzing budget and policy issues, a fiscal policy analyst is responsible for developing departmental budgets, monitoring spending, preparing project cost-benefit analyses, and presenting key findings to elected officials and stakeholders. Candidates for this role are usually required to have a graduate degree and a strong background in economics, finance, math, or accounting. The average annual salary for a city fiscal policy analyst nationwide is about $68,000.

Communications Manager — This role usually reports to the city manager or assistant city manager. They are responsible for creating and implementing a citywide communications plan and overseeing all communication platforms, from cable TV to websites. The communications manager may also act as a spokesperson for the city, issue press releases, coordinate media coverage, disseminate information, and coach elected officials and staff to speak at public events. To be eligible for this role, you must have excellent skills in oral and written communication, public relations, marketing, social media, and event planning. The average annual salary for a communications manager nationwide is about $61,000.

In order to be eligible to apply for these and other local government positions, consider enrolling in the Online Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College. To learn more, request information or call 877-265-3201.

Resources:

Where do MPA/MPP graduates work? What do they earn?” NASPAA.org. http://www.naspaa.org/students/careers/salary.asp (February 28, 2017).

“Government job profile: City manager.” Thebalance.com. https://www.thebalance.com/government-job-profile-city-manager-1669667 (February 28, 2017).

“Information services director.” Eugene-or.gov. https://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18085 (February 28, 2017).

“Average salaries of municipal officials.” NLC.org.  http://nlc.org/average-salaries-of-municipal-officials (February 28, 2017).

“Government job profile: Public works director.” Thebalance.com https://www.thebalance.com/government-job-profile-public-works-director-1669702 (February 28, 2017).

“Fiscal & policy analyst (SA2-exempt).” Agency.governmentjobs.com http://agency.governmentjobs.com/seattle/job_bulletin.cfm?JobID=441533 (March 1, 2017).

“Fiscal policy analyst salary (United States).” Payscale.com. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Fiscal_Policy_Analyst/Salary (March 1, 2017).

“City of Carlsbad class specification.” Carlsbadca.gov. http://www.carlsbadca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=23606 (March 1, 2017).

“Communications manager salary (United States).” Payscale.com. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Communications_Manager/Salary (March 1, 2017).