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Playing Politics - Careers in Political Science

If you are interested in politics and public policy, and have a passion for changing the world for the better, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in political science. This sort of education could qualify you for a wide variety of intriguing careers.

Political science majors study the operations of governments, and the making of public policies and laws. They also are experts in the facets and strategies of electoral campaigns for public office.

Specialities include political theory, political processes, international politics, state and local government, public administration, and the judicial system. While pursuing their studies, students are advised to gain practical experience by volunteering in government offices or on political campaigns.

Internships and research opportunities are available. Graduate programs allow students to concentrate on public policy regarding business, law, diplomacy, or other areas.


Many positions are offered by municipal, county, state, and federal government agencies. Political science majors may apply for jobs in administrative offices, on the staffs of state legislators and members of Congress, or as public-policy researchers.

Intelligence analysts working for the FBI, CIA, and other operations assess safety needs and security threats. Students who focus on international relations may pursue careers as foreign service officers. They also serve on diplomatic staffs and work in embassies around the world.

Analysts, researchers, archivists, historians, and others work on public-policy issues for the U.S. government. An education in political science may help prepare you for such careers, though specialized training and experience are typically required.

Electoral Politics

Those seeking to win elections need campaign managers and staff who are trained in political science. This work entails identifying voters, targeting those who might vote for a candidate, persuading voters to choose the candidate, and turning out voters to the polls.

Jobs on political campaigns include consultants, speechwriters, spokespeople, analysts, fundraisers, and pollsters. Major political parties, on the state and national levels, employ similar kinds of professionals (in positions that do not end on Election Day). Candidates themselves benefit from having received an education in political science, as it aids them in understanding voters.

Nonprofit Organizations

Thousands of nonprofit organizations work to influence government agencies and officials in regard to public policy. These groups represent a wide range of interests like business, labor, education, the environment, and human needs.
Lobbyists, organizers, speakers, writers, fundraisers, and others work for such organizations. The directors of advocacy organizations often have political science backgrounds, as they need to know how to influence the public as well as policymakers.


Large corporations have a lot at stake when it comes to governmental laws and regulations. These companies employ people with political savvy to promote, shape, or get rid of public policies that affect their finances and other interests. Speakers, writers, analysts, and other types of policy advocates are needed.

A poli-sci degree also is relevant for sales and marketing positions, as the skills needed to influence how people vote may be applied to selling products and services. International marketing, translating, research, and media-relations experts are hired by corporations.


Many of the politicians holding office in the United States are lawyers. Their education gives them an understanding of the law, and how statutes are created in the political process. Numerous lobbyists also have law degrees. A lawyer who becomes a judge may be in a position to overthrow or uphold a law.

Among other law-related jobs for which a poli-sci degree may prove helpful are paralegal, consumer advocate, public-policy analyst, mediator, criminologist, labor relations specialist, and labor union officer.


A political science degree, along with writing ability and journalism experience, are qualifiers for some careers in print publications, television and radio, and online news and opinion writing. Editors and reporters must comprehend the political process, and work with public officials on a regular basis.

You may get a job as a reporter, covering electoral campaigns, legislative sessions, political issues, and public-policy debates. Broadcast news analysts, as well as print and online columnists, offer their opinions about the news of the day. Some businesses and organizations need editors and writers for publications concerned with political issues.


It has been estimated that three-quarters of political science majors become professors at colleges and universities. This, of course, requires satisfying other requirements, such as earning a teaching certificate.

You may begin as an assistant professor, later obtaining a doctorate degree to become a full professor. You could teach law, politics, or related subjects. Public-policy research positions also are available at some universities.

Fewer than 7,000 people in the United States have the job title “political scientist.” About half of them work in offices of the federal government, analyzing data and writing reports. A master’s degree in political science, public administration, or a related field is necessary to get one of these jobs. The average annual salary, in 2012, was $102,000.

Most political science majors use their degrees to obtain other types of employment. Many possibilities exist, offering opportunities to pursue various specialties. This type of work requires advocacy ability, writing skills, and other talents. Most of all, political science professionals must possess a strong interest in making a difference in how the law and public policies affect people’s lives.