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Potential Jobs & More Information for Political Science Majors

Political science degrees grow less popular every year. Researchers say the number of degrees awarded in 2017 was about 3% smaller than the year prior. This holds true even though wages are growing by 4% every year. The number of people working in this industry is growing by about 2% each year.

What's happening here?

Cash-strapped college students look for majors with secure job futures. Choosing them, they think, means ensuring a steady paycheck no matter what happens next.

Despite this trend, this classic liberal arts degree prepares you for all sorts of interesting and lucrative careers. We’ll give you a few examples.

Work as a Campaign Manager

Politicians don't burst onto the scene without help. They run sophisticated campaigns to introduce themselves to the community. As a campaign manager, you'll both craft and execute those marketing programs.

As a campaign manager, you're likely to:

  • Draft formal communication documents. You'll write up press releases, position statements, and blog posts.
  • Coach your candidate. You'll help your chosen person shine in person, and on camera.
  • Supervise a team. You'll be involved in canvassing, fundraising, social media management, and more.
  • Safeguard your brand. You'll come up with your candidate's look and feel, and you'll ensure everything falls in line.

During campaign season, expect to work incredibly hard. You'll give up nights, weekends, and vacations to help your candidate.

If you lose, plan for some soul searching along with a frantic search for a new job. But if you win, you could ride the coattails of your candidate to higher office.

You'll take home about $114,000 per year, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But according to experts, don't expect to get paid unless you have quite a bit of experience.

Politicians can and will use free staff when available to pad their campaigns and ensure success. If you’re fresh from school, you might be shunted into a volunteer spot.

young politician at podium

Work as a Political Science Teacher

You'll lean on experts as you move through college. Become a teacher, and you'll pass on what you learned to the next generation. A master's degree or doctoral degree prepares you to teach at a college or university.

As a professor, you'll lead your classroom in vigorous discussions about political theory, history, and current events. You'll assign reading, check homework, and administer tests. Your days will be filled with helping young people master concepts.

Teach at the university level, and you'll also have time for research. You could study recent political campaigns, or you could reach way back and understand the past. You might be expected to publish academic papers or books on your topic to keep your position.

According to BLS, you'll make close to $80,000 per year for all of your hard work.

Research from the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that college professors appreciate their jobs because of:

  • Colleagues. You might like trading notes about theory with other people as passionate about education as you are. If you've always wanted to work with intelligent peers, a college environment could be right for you.
  • Influencing policy. In some colleges and universities, you'll have the ability to make campus-wide changes. Student lives and outcomes will improve because of the work you do.
  • Lifestyle. You're paid to work in a field you love. For some professionals, that means more than any salary ever could.

Work as a Political Scientist

How do political systems work? Why do some types of leadership get results, while others seem ineffective? Which governments hold the most power over their people? As a political scientist, you'll study issues like this every day.

You'll focus your work on:

  • National politics. You'll think about how the American system works now. You'll study how it developed in the past.
  • Comparative politics. You'll pit two types of leadership against one another to compare and contrast them.
  • International relations. You'll examine how two different types of governments communicate with one another and find common ground.
  • Political theory. You'll develop concepts that can apply to systems from the past and those coming in the future.

You'll need a master's degree or doctoral degree to get started, and you'll make about $117,000 per year, says BLS.

The job market is competitive, and you’ll need some experience before you can land this job. Expect to assist a political scientist for a few years before you grab the job title on your own.

Work as a Lobbyist

Why are some bills successful? Why do some states benefit from aid packages?

Think of lobbyists as the power behind each vote. They meet with politicians individually or in groups, and they hope to move votes in the direction that benefits their clients.

Few people set out to become a lobbyist, analysts say. Instead, they come to the career after spending years working in the business or political sector. You might work as a legislator for several years, for example, and then leverage your connections for a paying client. But with a political science degree, you're more than qualified to take a lobbying job.

Plenty of these jobs exist. For example, General Electric paid more than $238 million on salaries for lobbyists within the last 12 years, reporters say.

Your clients expect you to get results. If you don't, you won't keep your job, but if you're effective, you'll stay employed for years.

Work as a Politician

You can leverage your political science degree as a politician. Your educational background will help you understand what campaigns have worked in the past, what communities tend to expect from their leaders, and what would make you keep your job.

Top legislators make about $97,000 per year, BLS says, but after your years of community service are over, you'll get paid through:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Private parties
  • Interviews
  • Book signing parties

It's not uncommon for politicians to live a modest lifestyle while in office, and then move into a lavish lifestyle when the money starts flowing in.

You'll need to work for years, if not decades, on building capital before you can get elected. You might start with a small elected office, like county commissioner, and then you might build on that by becoming mayor. In time, you could achieve the highest office in America.

man giving speech

Work as a Speechwriter

Politicians talk extensively. Some of their chatter is informal, but much of it is scripted. As a speechwriter, you'll tell your politician just what to say.

Speechwriters with political science backgrounds know what language has worked in the past. They're aware of what their candidates need to sound like right now. They create speeches that marry the two, and they might work with the candidate to nail intonation and hand gestures.

Expect to make about $62,000 per year, says BLS. You'll need extensive on-the-job training. You'll need to learn from people who worked in the industry for decades. You’ll also need to understand your candidate.

Find a Job You Love

If you have your degree, and you're ready to work right now: you're in luck! We’ve gathered up plenty of political science jobs, and we'd love to help you find the right one.

Find jobs in your hometown, or search for spots in the community of your dreams. Visit our website to start your search today.

References

Political Science and Government. Data USA.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State: A Quick Guide to Working on Political Campaigns. (2007). Harvard College.

Postsecondary Teachers. (April 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

College Culture Drives Professors' Job Satisfaction. (March 2018). The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Political Scientists. (April 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Day in the Life of a Lobbyist. The Princeton Review.

General Electric Wages Never-Say-Die Campaign for Jet Engine Contract. (March 2011). ABC News.

Legislators. (March 2018). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Writers and Authors. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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