If you’re someone who loves staying up to date on current events, watching the news, and getting involved in your local or state governments, then a political science degree might be worth pursuing.
As your major, you’ll study how laws are made, and learn about governments across the world. Your course load will also delve into public policy, how it’s created, and how it impacts the social and economic status of the population locally and globally.
Because your field of study is so diverse, a poli sci degree can open the doors for dozens of career opportunities that only your unique blend of skills can handle.
In this article, we’ll give you a taste of some of the most popular choices in the field. We’ll dive into the highlights of the position, what the job entails, and the average salary of someone in the role.
Whether you’re wondering what to do with your degree when you graduate, or you’re trying to decide if political science is the right field for you, we will help answer those questions in this article.
Skills You’ll Learn as a Political Science Major
Many of the courses you’ll take and skills you’ll develop during your studies will equip you for a variety of careers. Here is a breakdown of some of what you’ll learn, and how it translates into real-world applications in the workforce.
Writing and Research Skills
One of the primary pieces of your education will be translating information that you’ve studied into compelling written and verbal arguments in the political sphere. You’ll be required to conduct in-depth research in a variety of subject areas, and then write papers with your thoughts and compelling arguments to back up your theory.
You will also be required to give presentations to both your peers and faculty where you’ll develop excellent communication and public speaking skills which are extremely sought-after by employers.
Although much of your time will be spent studying textbooks, political science majors don’t just read and digest information. Instead, they need to determine how the facts and figures they have learned apply in real-world scenarios.
During this process, you’ll be refining your analytical skills as you look at policies and seek to understand how government actions impact the community and what ramifications they have for the populace.
Critical thinking skills will help you evaluate how leadership changes, and their platforms, goals, and motivations will impact the world and translate into any work environment where you’ll need to do long-term planning.
We study history so that we can understand how actions and decisions have an impact on the world around us and can better manage what happens in the future.
As a student of political science, you’ll take classes that examine different models of leadership and their efficacy through the centuries. You’ll learn how leaders both good and bad acquired their power, the campaign strategies they used, and how they swayed public opinion in their favor over the years.
This knowledge will help you develop these skills for yourself, and will allow you to train others in effective methods and draw on these proven approaches to enhance your future successes.
Popular Job Choices for Political Science Majors
Although this list isn’t inclusive, these are some of the most common job choices of students who graduate with a political science degree.
Since a significant portion of your studies will be dedicated to understanding the process of generating public policy and the ramifications for implementing it, a career as a policy analyst is a natural transition for many students.
Policy analysts need strong critical thinking, research, and writing skills to do the job of formulating statements and opinions about the potential impacts of public policy proposals.
Much like the research papers, you’ll write during your education, you’ll be required to develop your thesis and use credible research to write a persuasive argument about whether or not to adopt a particular policy initiative.
Some policy analysts also present their arguments to various political figures which may help to advance initiatives they support in the hopes of enlisting their help or advocacy for the policy.
On average, policy analysts make around $74,000 per year, and entry-level positions typically start in the $50,000 range.
At every level of government, leaders like senators, representatives, assembly members, and other elected officials employ one or more assistants to help them carry out their daily responsibilities in their role.
Legislative assistants are an essential support staff member who often calls on their verbal and written communication skills to address their constituents and keep them updated on news and developments inside their district.
They are one of the main points of contact for constituents and gather feedback about the current political issues to present to the elected official. They also respond to inquiries, put a positive spin on the news, and resolve problems of the citizens in their jurisdiction.
You’ll also be responsible for conducting research on policy issues, tracking legislation, and understanding where other legislators stand on pending legislation. As someone who works directly with your legislator, you’ll provide the critical information they need in daily briefings to them and the other office staff to achieve your goals and serve your constituents.
Legislative assistants salaries can vary dramatically depending on your location and the level of the official for which you work. On average, expect to make around $38,000 per year with lots of opportunities for growth and promotion once you gain experience in the role.
Public Relations Specialist
If you like the idea of influencing public opinion, then a career as a public relations specialist might be an excellent fit. In this role, you’ll build relationships with the media and work to get stories published that meet your goals and objectives for your client.
You’ll need to have excellent writing skills that you’ll use to draft engaging press releases and be a persuasive communicator to help sell the need to cover a particular story. If you enjoyed learning about how public opinions are formed and how the media contributes to those feelings, then you’ll thrive by utilizing those skills in this role.
Public relations specialists are also responsible for organizing media events like press conferences and other live demonstrations that might generate interest from news agencies.
You can land this job either directly for an official, candidate, or business. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can also open your own consulting agency and prospect for clients who you believe would be a good fit for your services.
On average, public relations specialists across all sectors make around $58,000 per year. Entry level positions start in the $35,000 range, and top paid employees make well over six figures.
Social Media Manager
Few mediums have more influence on public opinion today than social media. In the political sphere, officials, candidates, interest groups, and parties need someone with in-depth knowledge of the various platforms to develop engaging content and monitor the feedback and responses to current issues and their administration.
You’ll need to be knowledgeable when it comes to social media platforms, and adept at creating campaigns that will shape perceptions and influence your target demographic.
Because of this, the skills you learn when earning your political science degree about how opinions are formed and how the media can influence them are critical to success in this role.
Social media managers across all industries average salaries are in the $50,000 per year range. However, those who work for influential political figures or candidates can make significantly more.
Marketing Research Analyst
Although it may not seem like a natural transition from political science to marketing, many students find that their in-depth knowledge about how to motivate and shape public opinion makes this a seamless transition.
If you enjoy analyzing how customers might respond to messaging about services or products, then the role of a market research analyst could be the perfect fit.
You’ll use your knowledge of research standards to analyze campaigns and develop recommendations for ways to improve your reach, brand recognition, loyalty, grow sales, and more.
You’ll present these findings to your colleagues, clients, and supervisors and use data from your analysis to back up your recommendations.
Not only are marketing research analysts well paid, averaging over $62,000 per year, but the job field is growing rapidly. The demand for this position is expected to increase by 19% over the next ten years, with nearly 500,000 openings added to the workforce by 2024.
For some students, a poli sci degree is the first stepping stone before they head to law school. Particularly if you want to serve as a lawyer for a lobbying firm, political figure, or special interest group, majoring in political science can give you a leg up on understanding how to best research legislative and policy issues.
It will also give you insight into the legal language that goes into bills, and how to draft pending legislation that echoes any legal precedents that already exist.
In addition, lawyers are excellent at understanding how to sway public opinion by crafting and delivering arguments that influence decision makers. This could pertain to a judge or jury in a trial setting where you need to elicit a specific response and make them sympathetic to the merits of your case.
There are many different law specialties you can dive into, and the salaries vary considerably depending on your niche. For example, political law compliance jobs pay a median of $105,000 per year, whereas lawyers in general average closer to $140,000 per year.
You could also elect to work as a paralegal while obtaining your degree, and can expect to make around $53,000 on average in this role.