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Which Careers Can I Pursue With an MPA?

A New Orleans streetcar

Because of the different sizes and unique needs of various communities, there are a wide variety of roles that fall under public administration. If you're interested in being a part of positive change, consider earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

What Is Public Administration?

Broadly speaking, public administration examines how we can impact the underlying social and economic factors within our society to improve the wellbeing of local communities. The government usually spearheads these efforts by funding essential services and creating policies that improve the quality of life of its citizens. However, charter schools and environmental researchers are just two examples of the many roles that the private sector and nonprofits can play in public administration. Here are just a few examples of the career paths you can pursue after earning an MPA:

Nonprofit Management

If you're a confident decision-maker with strong communication skills, you may be a good fit for nonprofit management. These administrators oversee the budget, programs, and daily operations of the organization while working closely with other members of the leadership team. Depending on your role, you might act as the nonprofit's spokesperson, lead fundraiser, or program director. If you recognize a need that other organizations aren't currently addressing, you'll also develop the skills needed to form a new nonprofit to fill that gap. On average, entry-level nonprofit development officers make about $42,500 annually, while the median base salary for a nonprofit executive director is $68,000.

Urban Planning

To determine the most efficient use of public property, government agencies hire urban planners. These professionals coordinate plans for projects that range from playgrounds and public housing developments to highway expansions and floodplain management. Typically, urban planners either work within a government agency or as government contractors who collaborate with architects, engineers, and economists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median pay for urban planners was about $75,000 in 2019, and this sector should grow by 11% over the next decade.

Government Administrator

As of 2020, about 24 million people work for the federal and local government. This figure includes elected officials, public school teachers, and active-duty military members. Government administrators play a vital role in ensuring that each level of these public agencies efficiently serves the people. Based on your interests, you can work in the office of an elected official, analyze the effectiveness of government programs, or oversee how public funds are spent. There are many roles that fall under government administration, but the BLS lists the median salary of professionals at the local level at $72,000 and over $100,000 for administrators at the federal level.


Though the word economist may make you think of Wall Street and investment banks, these analysts often work with government organizations to gather data that impacts which public policies are implemented. Economists who work in the public sector analyze people's habits and the effectiveness of current government programs. This research helps government agencies have a positive impact on the health and wealth of local communities. They also assist with managing municipal finances and developing tax programs and other initiatives to boost government income. BLS research showed that median pay for economists was about $100,000 in 2019 with 14% expected growth from 2020-2029.

At the Tulane School of Professional Advancement, we recognize the value of having talented leaders in the public and private sectors. Our Master of Public Administration program will help you build the skills and professional experience needed to pursue a fulfilling career that impacts the lives of people across the country. To accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals, we offer online classes along with stackable graduate certificates in K-12 Education Leadership and Nonprofit and Strategic Philanthropy Management. Start your journey toward a master's degree by applying to Tulane SoPA today.

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