How to Become a Local Government Official

Career Path Guide

If you’re interested in being involved in your municipality, and you want to work in an office, becoming a local government official could be perfect for you.


As a local government official, you would be responsible for putting council policies into practice. You would also make sure that local services are delivered effectively and efficiently.


To get into this field, you’ll need at lease a general undergraduate degree. You’ll need a specific degree, such as accounting, urban planning, etc. if your work will involve applying advanced knowledge in one of those areas.



Education You’ll Need

Although you will often need an undergraduate degree, and sometimes a graduate degree, there is no specific educational route for becoming a local government official in general.


Some roles however, will require an educational background in a specific field, particularly for roles that require specialized knowledge, such as accounting, finance, urban planning and human resources, among others.


Success Tip: For roles of a non-technical nature, earning a certificate in local government or public administration can be a great way to complement your previous degree, as is it can help you develop skills and knowledge that are helpful for working in local government.





Experience You’ll Need to Become a Local Government Official

The type and amount of experience that you need varies widely depending on the duties and level of responsibility you’ll have in the job. Some roles may require previous work experience in the field.


Generally however, having previous experience in an administrative capacity, or a customer-service/service delivery capacity can help your chances of being hired.


Success Tip: Some local governments take students on work experience placements, which can be very valuable experience for a career in local government.



What You’d Be Doing: General Job Description

As a local government official, you’d be responsible for assisting in the development and implementation of council policies and procedures, with the ultimate goal of ensuring effective service delivery to the residents of your municipality.


You could find yourself working in any number of departments and roles, such as planning council services in a policy section, or delivering services in a department like education or housing.


Please Note: This is a very wide-ranging profession that covers a breadth of roles, with many specialties including housing, finance, human resources, education, planning, transport, tourism, libraries, leisure and recreation, health and IT.



Typical Job Duties

The job functions you’d have would vary according to the department you work within, and your level of responsibility. They may include:


• Preparing and distributing reports

• Supervising administrative work and managing clerical staff

• Liaising with private and voluntary sector organizations, contractors and other local councils

• Coordinating the implementation of council decisions

• Coordinating communication strategies, including publications and departmental websites

• Liaising with other council departments, such as finance or marketing

• Providing support and strategic direction suggestions to senior local government officials and administrators





Is a Career in Local Government Right for You?

Having an undergraduate degree and a successful job interview isn’t all you need to get into this field; you also need the right personality. If the following aspects of this field interest you, then you’ll be well suited for a career in local government:


• Working regular weekday business hours

• Working in an office

• Taking direction from others

• Having clear guidelines for your work

• Providing quality service to the residents of the municipality

• A career with many opportunities for movement and advancement

• Frequently dealing with internal and external customers



Career Advancement Possibilities

As you gain experience, and demonstrate commitment and competence in your work, you could have the opportunity to progress into supervisory and eventually management roles, potentially culminating in an executive management role.


You could also choose to move into other departments, different levels of government, the non-profit or private sector.


Success Tip: Moving between internal departments and even between different local governments is quite common, and can be a good way of gaining broader experience and advancing your career.



Who Employs Local Government Officials?

You could potentially be employed in any local government department, such as policy, accounting, environmental health, housing, education or recreation & leisure. Many positions are full-time, although some will also be fixed-term contracts that depend on the funding available.



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "local government official" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Typical Work Environment

Many jobs in municipal administration are full-time, although part-time work might be available. Your schedule would reflect the hours of the office for which you work, which in all likelihood would be during regular weekday business hours.


Overtime might also be required from time to time, in order to attend meetings or complete tasks.


Your work would take place in an office that may be open to the public. You may need to travel within your municipality or region to attend meetings, or to visit other council offices or sites.



Alternate Titles for "Local Government Official"

A local government official is a title that is typically interchangeable with other titles, such as:


• Local Government Officer

• Municipal Administration Specialist

• Municipal Government Officer/Official

• Public Administration Officer/Official

• Public Policy Officer/Official

• Public Services Officer/Official



Guides for Similar Careers

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as "local government official":


• Arts Administrator

• City Councillor

• City Manager

• Development Permit Technician

• Governmental Program Agent

• Mayor




Information for this career guide was compiled from the websites listed below. Some information has also been compiled from actual job postings from various organizations, which cannot be listed here due to the brief nature of their online availability.


Job Profile:Local Government Officer.” AGCAS editors (June 13th, 2019). Prospects website. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

Explore Careers:Local government officer.” (n.d.) National Careers Service website. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

Careers:Roles and responsibilities of municipal officials.” (n.d.) Government of Alberta website. Retrieved December 31, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Local Government Official

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a local government official. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Business Administration Scholarships and Political Science Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a local government official. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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