If you are intrigued by current events, want to shape public policy, and feel called to service, political science is worth considering as a major. But even if you don’t want to work in politics, political science can be a solid foundation for many careers.
Political science majors study how laws are made and the comparative structures of governments across the world. They learn how public policy is formulated and the impact of policy on the social and economic status of the populace.
Career Choices for Political Science Majors
In addition to jobs in politics, there are many other career options to consider. Political science majors develop strong writing and research skills. They discover how to make a convincing argument and back it up with facts. Students of political science hone their presentation and verbal communication skills as they share their work with faculty and peers.
Political science majors refine their analytical skills while exploring policy initiatives and considering the ramifications of government actions. Critical thinking is vital to evaluating the platforms of political parties and the impact of leadership changes.
During their studies, political science majors learn how power is acquired, how campaigns are waged, and how public opinion can be influenced. They study different models for leadership and gain a historical perspective regarding the relative effectiveness of different approaches.
Your final decision about your major and career should take into account your unique values, skills, personality traits, and interests.
If you choose political science as a major, you’ll have a wide variety of options open to you after graduation.
10 Job Options for Political Science Majors
1. Policy Analyst
Since political science majors study the process for generating public policy, the role of policy analyst is a natural application of their work as a student.
Policy analysts rely on strong critical thinking, writing, and research skills as they formulate statements about the nature and impact of proposals for public policy.
Like political science majors, policy analysts must devise a sound thesis and build a persuasive argument for or against the adoption of a particular policy initiative. In addition, analysts use their understanding of the political and legislative process to enlist the support of individuals who can help advance initiatives.
Salary: According to PayScale, the average salary for a policy analyst is $59,135. In terms of salary range, the top 10% earn $82,000 or higher and the bottom 10% earn $42,000 or less.
2. Legislative Assistant
Senators, assembly members, representatives, and other elected officials at all levels of government hire assistants to help them to carry out their duties.
Legislative assistants tap into the writing and verbal skills developed by the political science major to coordinate communication with constituents and inform them about developments within their district.
They assess the interest of constituents regarding current political issues and present the views of their elected officials within a positive framework. Legislative assistants respond to constituent inquiries and help to resolve problems of citizens within their jurisdiction.
Legislative assistants research policy issues, track legislation, and survey the positions of other legislators on pending legislation. They prepare briefings for their legislator and other office staff.
Salary: According to PayScale, legislative assistants earn an average of $40,299, with the top 10% earning $67,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $31,000 or less.
3. Public Relations Specialist
Public relations representatives influence public opinion about their clients based largely on placing stories with the media. Political science majors develop the writing skills needed to draft compelling press releases and the persuasive skills to assert the benefits of covering a particular story. They also learn how opinions are formed, and the role of the media, as they research current events during their studies.
Public relations specialists often organize and publicize press conferences and other events in order to attract media attention and get the word out about their client. Political science majors gain some insight into this process as they study the mechanics of organizing campaign events and public appearances by government representatives.
Salary and Job Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $61,150 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $115,430 or more and the bottom 10% earning $34,590 or less. The BLS expects jobs in the field to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029—faster than average.
4. Social Media Manager
Public opinion is increasingly shaped by social media. Political candidates, officials, parties, and interest groups need social media managers to monitor the views of constituents about their administration and current issues.
Social media managers must understand various social media platforms and orchestrate campaigns to shape the perceptions of their users. Political science majors know how opinions are formed and influenced by various media and can be instrumental in formulating and implementing these plans.
According to PayScale, social media managers earn an average of $50,815, with the top 10% earning $78,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $35,000 or less.
5. Marketing Research Analyst
Market researchers analyze how consumers will respond to products or services, much like political science students assess the reactions of potential voters to candidates. Political science majors study the role of survey research and opinion polling in campaigning. The work of market researchers often involves surveying consumer reactions to potential or current products and services.
Market research analysts can tap into the knowledge of research standards that the political science major possesses when designing scientifically viable studies. They must present their findings to clients and co-workers and back up their recommendations with data.
Salary and Job Outlook: According to the BLS, market research analysts earned a median annual wage of $63,790 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $122,630 or more and the bottom 10% earning $34,350 or less. The BLS expects jobs in the field to grow by 18% between 2019 and 2029—much faster than average.
6. Political Consultant
Political consultants use the knowledge of the political process gained by political science majors to devise strategies for candidates to influence voters and gain support in their campaigns for office. Political consultants help to brand candidates and repair damaged images.
They attempt to influence media coverage of candidates by offering favorable stories and positive takes on the past performance of the candidate. These workers may survey potential voters to discern their reaction to a candidate and the basis of their opinion.
Political consultants may also work for public interest groups and help them to formulate strategies for advancing their causes.
Salary: Glassdoor estimates that political consultants earn an average of $77,368.
Lawyers working for political figures, interest groups, and lobbying firms use the legal research skills developed by political science majors to conduct research about legislative and policy issues. They help draft and edit the language for bills, and assess the legal precedents for pending legislation.
Attorneys formulate and deliver arguments on behalf of their clients and attempt to influence decision makers about the merits of their stance. They use political savvy in other areas of the law as well. Lawyers select sympathetic jurors and frame their cases in favorable ways when there are controversial political issues related to trials.
Many attorneys work for governmental agencies where the political science graduate’s knowledge of political structures is beneficial.
Salary and Job Outlook: The BLS estimates that lawyers earned a median annual salary of $122,960 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $208,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $59,670 or less. The BLS expects jobs in the field to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029—about as fast as average.
8. Intelligence Analyst
Intelligence analysts work for clandestine agencies of the government like the CIA and National Security Agency. They tap the political science major’s understanding of political groups to assess developments in volatile areas of the world. These analysts study particular groups that pose a threat to security, and analyze patterns of leadership and popular support.
Intelligence analysts write reports with their findings, and present briefings to agency leadership and executive & legislative leaders and staff. In addition, knowledge of foreign languages used by potential terrorists helps analysts to investigate potential threats.
Salary: PayScale estimates that intelligence analysts earn an average of $69,737, with the top 10% earning $103,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $44,000 or less.
9. Political Campaign Staff
Political campaign staff members help to formulate and execute campaign strategy. They work towards building a brand or favorable public image for the candidate.
Staffers use the ability of the political science major to study current political issues and assess voter reactions to a candidate's platform.
They write press releases and help draft language for speeches. Political campaign staff help manage the candidate's social media imprint and organize events to gain exposure for candidates. They recruit, train, and supervise volunteers, as well as raising money to fund the campaign.
Salary: ZipRecruiter estimates that campaign staff earn an average annual salary of $35,994, with the top 25% earning $39,000 or more and the bottom 25% earning $26,000 or less.
10. College-Student Leadership and Activities Directors
Activities directors can apply knowledge of political science as they structure student elections and leadership programs. They help set standards for elections and monitor proceedings to make sure that student rights are upheld.
College-student leadership and activities officers develop leadership training exercises and advise leaders about effective and ethical ways to exercise their authority. They oversee the use of financial resources and investigate irregularities in student-run clubs and programs. These workers mediate disputes between student leaders, and ensure that minority interests are reflected in budgets and activities.
Salary: Salary.com estimates that college-student activities directors earn a median annual salary of $63,395.