Career Facts

What They Do:

Political Scientists study political systems and institutions, public policy and administration. They conduct research on public issues and political relationships, power and resources, both within a single country and globally. Research and analysis often include judicial rulings, public opinion, decision-making, ideology and public policy in an attempt to understand decision making, exercise of power, and response to change. Political Scientists often suggest solutions and provide research to make better decisions on issues affecting people, environment and business.

Political Scientists find career opportunities in:

  • Non-profit organizations engaged in education, philanthropy or social and community services
  • Public service in legislative, executive and judicial agencies at the national, state and local levels of government
  • For-profit enterprises in large and small businesses, finance, technology consulting and communications
  • Education through teaching at K-12 schools, colleges and universities.

Related Occupations:

Related careers include teaching, law, civil service, political appointments, journalism, social research, political consulting, elected official and writer.

Who Would Enjoy it:

Those individuals who:

  • Are interested in current affairs and issues and have strong analytical skills
  • Possess advanced written and verbal communication skills and an ability to present information
  • Can collect data and use both qualitative and quantitative analysis
  • Possess excellent computer skills
  • Have a desire to work toward solving problems for the betterment of society
  • Use objective, analytical, comparative and historical approaches to problems.

What They Earn:

Great variability exists depending on position, location and educational achievement. The average starting salary range for a Political Scientist averages $27,000. With experience and a higher education, the salary may increase to $65,000 or more. Entry level Political Scientists may be employed as in-service trainees. The College Majors Handbook reports college graduates with a bachelor's degree in Political Science earn about $2,500 more annually than the average person with a bachelor's degree.

How Many Jobs Available:

Competition for existing jobs at colleges and universities is great. Jobs in local, state and federal government agencies are also shrinking rapidly thereby limiting career opportunities. However, better opportunities will be available to those with advanced degrees and experience.

How Much Schooling, Training or Skill Development:

A bachelor's degree is required for entry level work with various groups and organizations. Those with a bachelor's degree can choose to pursue graduate degrees in Political Science, International Relations, Public Administration, Public Policy, Law and Business. Teaching at the college or university level requires a master's degree or Ph.D.