A Career In Public Policy

Public policy employers welcome new participants with open arms. New minds and new ideas help make the public sector a better tool to aid humanity.

A career in public policy has many rewards with the most obvious being able to assist your fellow mankind. But public policy also comes with a huge weight of responsibility. Being a person that can make decisions about people's lives puts you in a lofty role, and you must be able to accept the fact that you are a steward of people and the resources they rely upon, and therefore, they depend on you.

Public policy careers come in several guises, but the common thread is the need to help people, society, and humanity. Sometimes your scope is only for a neighborhood, and in other positions, you have a connection with national and even international populations. You can work for the government or for nonprofit institutions. You may be a journalist, an economist and a grant specialist. And of course, you can consider politics as an elected official.

If you wish to enter public policy, you have a sincere need to aid others. You must decide whether you wish to obtain a degree in this area or start at the ground level. Public policy jobs pay steady with regular paychecks, retirement options, insurance, and a few other perks such as vacation time, but few people become wealthy in this field. Therefore, if you are able to obtain the education required to enter at a professional level, do so.

Types of degrees suggested for public policy positions:

Public administration


Nonprofit management

Criminal justice






Financial management


International studies

Some public positions have need for specialists like statisticians, agronomists, environmentalists, or even educators. So if you already have an education or a specialty, you may still be able to enter this arena by looking for an agency that works in your field and needs your help.

If you are unable to land a college degree, you still have good options in the public sector. These openings are usually in the administrative fields with some in technical type areas. All organizations in the public's eye have need for employees with clerical, computer, labor and technical skills. In other words, the public sector has a job for almost everyone.

Some public sector employers:

United States Federal government

State governments

City and county governments

Nonprofit charities

Nonprofit social organizations

Publications like journals, newspapers, and periodicals


Chambers of commerce

Where to find these jobs? Here are some good connections:

Federal government websites - Federal agencies are mandated to list every job opening online for the public. It is called USAJOBS. Plus, any government agency can give you a list of its openings not just locally, but all over the world.

State government websites -Every state has a neat website that is easily navigable to an employment page.

City government websites - Every city likewise has a website with a mandatory job page of openings.

Nonprofits - The National Council of Nonprofit Associations has a vast connection for employment under its resources. And the Secretary of State in each US state maintains a record of nonprofits. Most have a searchable database online to find nonprofits that have a purpose that matches yours.

All public policy entities have grand websites. Why? Because they serve the public. Laws require that most of these organizations have websites to reach those in need. The government websites must also meet the needs of the visually impaired and have TDD or telephone capabilities for the deaf and mute.

Once you decide the type public work you would like to pursue, study the organizations that work in that setting. Analyze their work and learn what they seek in an employee. Get involved in similar activities wherever and whenever you can for the experience. You might enjoy law enforcement, so you volunteer for crime watches or other community drives lead by law enforcement.

Learn what education is required. City and state police departments usually do not require college degrees to be an officer, but the federal government needs degreed individuals for the gross majority of its agents and investigators. And the larger the employer, like the federal government, the more chances you have for promotion and even educational assistance. The federal government will sometimes pay for your schooling or even pay off your student loans obtained before employment. Get to know your future employer well before knocking on the door to ask for a job.

Maybe you wish to enter the realm of the elected official. You crave the ultimate of public sector positions - the politician. You might have grandiose ideas of national politics or just want to make a difference in your hometown, but in either case, you need experience to get there. You can get started by:

Volunteering for political campaigns;

Participating in voter registration drives;

Studying current events;

Attending town hall, county council, or open legislative forums;

Writing letters to your elected officials asking what you can do to help;

Note issues that need attention in your area and take action to promote them;

Writing articles and letters to the editor for the newspaper about issues demonstrating your abilities and knowledge;

Joining clubs and organizations that support your political beliefs and causes;

Serving on volunteer committees in schools, towns and nonprofits.

In the public sector, your experiences count just as much as your employment history. Volunteering, club affiliation, and community involvement mean a lot on your resume, so make sure you include all of your talents, connections, and activities. Getting involved means everything in public policy.

Do not be tentative about seeking a public policy career. The employers welcome new participants with open arms. New minds and new ideas help make the public sector a better tool to aid humanity, and everyone has something to offer. And the most rewarding part of the work is seeing the assistance you give to others.

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