How to Become a Public Administrator: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Public administrators—sometimes known as social and community service managers—manage public programs and implement government policy. They also train other public employees and prepare them for their careers. They provide social and community services and staff government agencies. They manage budgets for government programs and seek out funding to provide public services. And they consult with people about how community service programs are working and how they could be improved. Most often working in government, they also help nonprofits make lives better in our communities.


Annual salaries for public administrators will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for public administrators working in the U.S. was $65,750 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for public administrators, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Public Administration

California leads the nation in employment for public administrators, with 13,360 making an average yearly salary of $73,990. New York State is second in employment with 10,560 public administration professionals earning an average salary of $78,650.

The metro areas employing the most public administrators are:

  • New York-White Plains (6,450)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (3,500)
  • Chicago-Joliet (3,410)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of public administrators are:

  • Bismarck, ND (4.57 jobs per thousand)
  • Waterbury, CT (2.72 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid public administrators are:

  • Madera-Chowchilla, CA (average annual salary $91,200)
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA (average annual salary $90,380)

Employment and Salary Information for Public Administrators

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a public administrator. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Public Administrator?

Public administrators work for their communities, often being a particular help to the disadvantaged. That’s rewarding in itself, but there are real advantages to working in public administration.

  • Fast-growing area. The number of public administrators is projected to increase 21% between 2012 and 2022—much faster than the average job.
  • Work with the disadvantaged. Public administrators manage community services and implement policies, which make the most difference to the most vulnerable people in our society.
  • Good pay. Average annual pay in 2013 was $65,750 per year.
  • Wear many hats. Public administrators deal with policies, services, budgets—the work is varied.

Public Administration: What You Need To Know

Public administration requires policy skills—understanding which policies work best, and how to implement them—as well as people skills. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Knowledge of Public Policy
  • Knowledge of Community Services
  • Public Consultation
  • Management and Budgeting
  • Fundraising

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about public administrator careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Public Administrator Careers

Bachelor’s degree

Becoming a public administrator usually requires a bachelor’s degree. Some colleges offer degrees in public administration. But there are several majors which are good preparation for the field, depending on the role: social work, business administration, and public health are some examples. Many colleges offer courses in these areas, which will likely include study in statistics, program management, policy analysis, leadership, state and local government, and law.

Even so, work experience is highly valued by employers, as most public administrators move into the position other roles within government and nonprofits. These promotions typically recognize a candidate’s ability and competence.