Careers with a Political Science Degree


Unlike engineering, education, accounting, management, nursing, or other undergraduate professional degrees, there is no clear career path for you to take once you’ve earned a political science degree.


Traditionally, the single biggest post-graduation destination is law school. Many also think that with this major, you are destined to pursue a career as a politician.



What You Can Do with a Political Science Degree

So, two careers paths…that’s it? Far from it.


The shocking truth is, believe it or not, that not every graduate ends up becoming a politician or a lawyer, and many end up finding fulfilling employment. So what exactly can you do with this degree? Where will you find work?


The short answer to these questions is that there are many, many options that will be open to you For the sake of simplicity, we’ve outlined the main things you can do after graduation:


• Get a graduate degree (in a field such as political science, business administration, international relations, and others)

• Get a professional degree (such as law, education or journalism)

• Find work in a career directly relevant to your degree (such as public administrator, election officer, and well...politician

• Find work in a career that makes use of the skills you’ve gained, but isn’t related to political science (such as compliance officer or communications assistant)


While graduate and professional programs are great options, they are also beyond the scope of this page. Instead, our goal is to show you what careers (directly relevant to your degree or not) that you can pursue, and why. Spoiler Alert!! You can pursue a lot of careers...because of the skills you'll gain.



What Political Science Can Teach You

Political Science is the study of politics; the nature, causes, and results of collective decisions and actions taken by groups of people embedded in the cultures and institutions that structure power and authority on local, regional and federal levels.


As a student, you’ll use the interpretive, historical, case study and comparative methods to examine such aspects of politics as:


• Relations between nation-states

• Historical political structures, such as ancient Greece

• Relations between the state and society

• The nature of power and authority

• The nature of collective decision making, from small groups to global governance

• Political motives and behaviours, ranging from self-interested to altruistic

• The impact of such things as interest groups, political parties, social structures and other societal organizations





Skills You’ll Gain for Directly Relevant Careers

As a result of this coursework, you'll earn a set of employable skills that is specific to the subject matter. These skills apply to career fields that are directly related to your degree. They include:


• An understanding of the forces that shape international relations, politics and society at large

• Analytical skills with regards to political issues

• Ability to develop and present organized, structured, persuasive and evidence-based arguments

• Ability to understand the impact of political decisions

• Ability to spot political and policy trends

• Greater ability to predict political outcomes    



List of Directly Relevant Careers

The field-specific skills and knowledge you'll gain are best applied to the following occupations (some may require additional training, experience and education of course):


• Blogger

• Citizenship and Immigration Officer

• City Councillor

• City Manager

• Consumer Advocate

• Contractual Researcher

• Diplomat

• Director of Public Policy 

• Election Officer

• Foreign Affairs Officer

• Government Researcher

• Governmental Program Agent

• House of Commons Clerk

• Human Rights Commission Development Officer

• Human Rights Officer

• Intelligence Analyst

• Intelligence Officer

• Legislative Aide

• Legislator

• Local Government Official

• Mayor

• Member of Parliament

• Military Officer

• Ministerial Assistant

• Natural Resource Policy Analyst

• Political Campaign Manager

• Political Campaign Officer

• Political Consultant

• Political Coordinator

• Political Organizer

• Political Pollster

• Political Researcher

• Political Scientist

• Politician

• Politician's Assistant

• Press Secretary

• Public Health Planner

• Public Policy Consultant

• Public Policy Planner

• Regional Planner

• Regulatory Affairs Manager

• Regulatory Affairs Specialist

• Research Assistant

• Senior Policy Advisor

• Social Scientist

• United Nations Ambassador

• World Food Program Officer





Transferrable Skills You’ll Gain

Unlike interior design, economics or certain other arts degrees, not as many employers include "Political science majors only" or "Political science majors preferred" on their job postings.


However, in terms of leveraging this degree into a job outside of the field, it’s not about the major you have, but the skills you’ve gained while earning it.


Because of the transferrable skills political science programs can teach you, you’ll make a competent employee in almost any industry. And after all, to many employers, the skill set you bring to the table is much more important than the specific field your degree is in.


So, while this major may not get you a job simply by virtue of its title, it does provide you with a skill set that makes you a valuable asset for any organization.


Be aware, however, that in a cover letter or an interview, you should be prepared to explain that, by outlining how your skills are a great fit for the organization. 


Transferrable skills you can gain include:


• Written an verbal communications skills

• Qualitative researching abilities

• Time management skills

• Ability to operate within strict timelines

• Ability to think critically

• Ability to recognize quality information



Careers Well Suited for these Transferrable Skills

Not interested in a career that’s directly related to political science degree? That’s okay, because of the transferrable skills you'll gain, you'll have no shortage of employment fields to choose from, including (but certainly not limited to):


• Alumni Relations Officer

• By-Law Enforcement Officer

• Communications Advisor

• Communications Assistant

• Communications Consultant

• Community Program Director

• Community Services Director

• Compliance Officer

• Customer Relations Clerk

• Department Manager

• Director of Strategy

• Director of University Admissions

• Director of Volunteer Services

• Diversity Consultant

• Domestic Violence Victim Advocate

• Employee Relations Officer

• Equal Opportunity Officer

• Foreign Trade Manager

• Global Warming Advocate

• Human Resources Assistant

• Human Resources Coordinator

• Industrial Relations Officer

• Intellectual Property Manager

• International Account Executive

• International Aid and Development Project Officer

• International Aid Worker

• Judge

• Labour Organizer

• Lawyer

• Legal Advisor

• Legal Analyst

• Market Researcher

• Marketing Consultant

• NGO Area Coordinator

• Non-Profit Foundation Manager

• Paralegal

• Press Secretary

• Recruiter

• Restaurateur

• Retail Manager

• School Administrator

• Superintendent

• Surveillance Officer

• Survey Researcher

• Tour Guide

• Trade Commissioner

• Transportation Planner

• Travel Agency Manager

• Travel Agent

• Volunteer Coordinator

• Women's Shelter Staff

• Zoning Inspector


Please Note: Some of the above careers require additional training, education and/or experience. To find out more about the specific education and training requirements of each career, click on their links above.






Sectors of Industry Directly Related to Your Degree

In terms of finding work in a broad field that's related to political science, try looking for administrative or decision-making roles in the following areas:


• Borders and immigration

• Regional, federal or international law making and enforcement

• Social policy

• Municipal, regional or federal government

• Non-governmental organizations (NGO's)

• Special interest groups (such as political parties and lobbyist groups)

• Democratic representation

• International policy

• National security


Sectors of industry not directly related to your degree

As we mentioned previously, many grads that choose to look for work outside of the field often find roles in the following areas:


• Teaching at the primary and secondary level

• Teaching at the post-secondary level

• Public and private research

• Private industry

• Print and online media

• Banking and finance



Typical Salary Level of Graduates

The salary you could earn as a political science graduate first entering the workforce can vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The type of job you have, and your level of responsibility

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have


Political Science Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $43,468 CAD* is the average salary earned by Social Science graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008.


*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Social Science, not specifically for political science graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.



Political Science Scholarships

If you’re a political science major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to political science students, arts students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.


Success Tip: Don't be shy, apply for anything that you even barely qualify for; you'd be surprised just how much scholarship money goes to waste every year simply due to a lack of applicants...not a lack of qualified applicants, just a lack of applicants in general. That money is there to help you...go get it!



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your political science degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Association of Political Consultants

Canadian Political Science Association

Prairie Political Science Association


United States

American Legislative Exchange Council

The American Political Science Association

American Association of Political Consultants



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