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Public Administration Careers in The Nonprofit Sector

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Commit to Lead Positive Change in the Public Sector

To be eligible for a senior management position in the nonprofit sector, you need the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience to lead an organization. Getting a master’s in public administration, or MPA degree, can provide you with the tools you need through coursework in executive leadership, strategic management, and public policy.

There is a growing demand for public administration professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonprofits account for 10 percent of all U.S. jobs.1 During the recession, nonprofit job growth remained strong and is expected to continue to increase. For example, employment of fundraisers (most of whom work for nonprofits) is projected to grow by nine percent between 2014-2024, which is above the national average job growth rate of seven percent.2

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

Top Jobs in Nonprofit Organizations

CEO/President/Executive Director

As the head of a nonprofit, the CEO, president, or executive director oversees the organization’s general management and focuses on fulfilling its long-term vision.3 Their responsibilities include strategic planning, fundraising, finance, working with the board, and providing leadership to all staff. In addition to having an advanced degree, most organizations look for individuals who are politically savvy and have significant experience in marketing, fundraising, organizational development, and fiscal management. According to, the median annual salary for the CEO of a nonprofit organization is about $106,000, but can reach above $200,000 annually.4

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

This role is part of the senior leadership team, which reports to the CEO.3 Responsibilities include financial policy development and direction, business planning, budgeting, and all other financial administration within the organization. Candidates are required to have extensive finance management experience, including accounting, budgeting, auditing, analysis, and reporting. According to, the average annual salary for the CFO of a nonprofit organization is about $130,000.5

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

While it may vary, the responsibilities of the COO usually include overseeing an organization’s internal functions to enable the CEO to focus on external functions (e.g., fundraising, public relations).3 This includes strategy, budgeting, measuring performance, and serving as a leader within the organization. To fill this position, a candidate must have extensive management experience in a results-driven environment. According to, the median annual salary for the COO of a nonprofit organization is about $96,500.6

Director of Communications and Public Affairs

This role reports to senior management and is responsible for developing consistent messaging, media relations, coordinating a communication plan, and identifying public policy issues that match the organization’s mission.7 This requires experience in management, communications, public relations, marketing, and advocacy. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, salaries for this type of position range from $70,000-$120,000.8

Director of Development

This role usually reports to the executive director and is responsible for leading the organization’s fundraising activities, including expanding the donor database, managing partnerships and donor relationships, securing funding, and growing the overall budget.3 In addition to a proven track record in fundraising, candidates for this position need to have strategy, finance, research, and writing skills. According to, the median annual salary for a development director is about $61,000.9

Program Director

This role reports to the executive director and is responsible for the development and delivery of quality programs, staff/volunteer management and training, reporting, program evaluation, and managing relationships with the community. Hiring managers often prefer job candidates for this position to have a master’s degree in addition to strong skills in communication and project management. According to, the median annual salary for a nonprofit program director is about $53,000.10

In order to be eligible to apply for these public administration careers in the nonprofit sector, consider enrolling in the Online Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College. To learn more, request information or call 877-265-3201.



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