How to Become a Public Administration Manager

If you have an interest in an office-based career in government that involves a lot of responsibility and a good salary, then becoming a public administration manager is a career path you should consider. 


This field offers consistent working hours, the opportunity to supervise the work of others, and the opportunity to develop a wide range of transferable skills.


If this field sounds promising, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing, how much you could make, and what you need to do to get into this field!




Formal Education You'll Need

As far as what’s required from an employer, an undergraduate degree in any subject is usually acceptable to get you into public administration. However, many employers will require that you have a master's degree in order to move into a management position. 


Certain fields are also more relevant to this career, and thus may be more helpful during your day-to-day working life. These fields include: law; political science; business administration; management or social and public administration.





Experience You'll Need

Oftentimes, public administration managers work their way into the position. Many have an undergraduate degree, get an entry-level job, and simply work their way up by applying for open jobs every few years at higher levels.


However, if you have an advanced education in a highly relevant field, such as a graduate degree in public administration, you might be able to skip a few steps on the ladder, and start your career at a higher level job, perhaps even program manager.


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. This doesn’t mean apply for a new job every 20 minutes though, stay at roles long enough to make an impact, and get to know the role inside-out.



Moving from Another Field into Public Administration

You don’t necessarily have to start your career in public administration to become a manager. It is possible to come into the field after having worked in the private or non-profit sector, provided you have relevant experience, such as program development and implementation, as well as directing the work of a team of employees. 


Making your transition into the field from the outside will only be made easier if you also have a relevant education (as listed above).



Public Administration Manager: General Job Description

You would be responsible for planning, organizing, implementing and evaluating the development of policies and programs which govern the daily operations of legislatures and governmental functions, such as elections and intergovernmental affairs.



General Job Duties

Although your specific duties could vary from job to job, you could expect to have responsibilities quite similar to those listed below:


• Providing advice to senior government managers of legislature or governmental departments

• Organizing government agency or unit and establishing procedures to meet the goals and objectives set by senior management

• Directing and supporting the activities of staff conducting research, preparing documents and providing administrative support

• Planning and managing the research and administration budgets for projects and programs

• Organizing and directing work groups or committees that will plan, manage and evaluate projects and programs

• Recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training staff




Is This Field Right for You?

You’ll be very well suited for a career as a public administration manager if the following traits describe you:


• You’re interested in an office-based career that offers a great salary, and a lot of responsibility

• You have exceptional organizational and communication skills

  • • You have a cooperative team approach, and positive attitude among fellow staff
  • • You enjoy directing the work of others
  • • You have the patience to withstand your work progress being held up by bureaucratic processes

• You'd like to work with multiple levels of personnel, from entry level employees to senior executives



Who Employs Them?

You could potentially be employed in any level of government, and in any department within that level. 


For example, you could find yourself overseeing the “Hire a Student” campaign and staff for your provincial or state government, or you could be responsible for overseeing the recreation and leisure department for your municipal government. 



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a public administration manager can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties


Public Administration Manager Salary - Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the Government managers - economic analysis, policy development and program administration occupational group is $105,005 per year.


Public Administration Manager Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Government Managers - Health and Social occupational group is $86,700 per year.


Public Administration Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Administrative Services Managers occupational group is $86,110 per year.



Career Advancement Possibilities

As you gain experience, and demonstrate commitment and competence in your work, you could have the opportunity to progress into senior management roles, potentially culminating in an executive management role, such as City Manager.


You could also choose to move into other departments, different levels of government (such as moving from municipal to federal), or you could move into the non-profit or private sector.



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Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: Most management jobs in public administration are full-time, although part-time work might be available in rare cases. 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.


Work Setting: Your work would take place in an office, one that may be open to the public. You may need to travel within your municipality, region  or country to attend meetings, conferences and various events, or to visit other government offices or sites.


Working Conditions: Your work would involve a lot of responsibility and accountability, as you would be overseeing the work a department or program. This can either be very stressful or very rewarding, depending on your personality type and other factors, such as the nature of the specific projects you would work on.



Careers Similar to ‘Public Administration Manager’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Public Administration Manager:


• Administrative Director

• City Manager

• Governmental Program Agent

• Human Resources Manager

• Local Government Official




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a public administration manager:


Occupations in Alberta:Other managers in public administration.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Management: Administrative Services Managers.” (March 29, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Career & Technical Education Pathways:Government and Public Administration.” (n.d.). Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

What is Local Government Management:Become a Professional Local Government Manager.” (n.d.). ICMA website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.



Relevant Scholarships

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a public administration manager. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those field(s) of study on our Business Administration Scholarships page.


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!



Applicable University Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a public administration manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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