If you are fascinated by current events, want to shape public policy, and feel called to serve, political science is worth considering. 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 around the world. You’ll learn how public policy is formulated and the impact politics has on the social and economic status of the population.
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 persuasive argument and back it up with facts. Political science students improve their presentation and verbal communication skills as they share their work with faculty and peers.
Political science majors hone their analytical skills as they examine policy initiatives and consider the impact of government actions. Critical thinking is critical to evaluating political party platforms and the impact of leadership changes.
During their studies, political scientists learn how power is acquired, how campaigns are run, and how public opinion can be influenced. They examine different models of leadership and gain a historical perspective regarding the relative effectiveness of different approaches.
If you choose political science as your major, there are a variety of options available to you after graduation.
10 Job Options for Political Science Majors
- policy analyst
Because political science majors study the process of generating public policy, the role of policy analyst is a natural application of their work as an undergraduate.
Policy analysts rely on strong critical thinking, writing, and research skills when formulating statements about the nature and impact of public policy proposals.
Like political science majors, policy analysts must develop a sound thesis and form a convincing argument for or against the adoption of a particular policy initiative. In addition, analysts use their understanding of the political and legislative process to gain the support of individuals who can 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.1
2 Legislative Assistants.
Senators, Assembly members, Representatives, and other elected officials at all levels of government hire assistants to help them perform their duties.
Legislative Assistants use the writing and verbal skills developed by the political science major to coordinate communications with constituents and inform them of developments in their district.
They assess constituent interest in current political issues and present the views of their elected officials in a positive setting. Legislative Assistants respond to constituent inquiries and help resolve constituent issues within their jurisdiction.
Legislative Assistants research policy issues, track legislation, and investigate other legislators’ positions 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.2
- public relations specialist
Public relations representatives influence public opinion about their clients largely based on story placement with the media. Political science majors develop the writing skills needed to craft persuasive press releases and the persuasive skills to take advantage of 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 to attract media attention and inform their clients. Political science majors gain insight into this process as they study the mechanics of organizing campaign events and public appearances by government officials.
Salary and Job Prospects: 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 this field to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029-faster than average.3
- social media managers
Public opinion is increasingly shaped by social media. Political candidates, officials, parties, and advocacy groups need social media managers to monitor constituents’ views of their administration and current issues.
Social media managers need to understand various social media platforms and orchestrate campaigns to shape the perceptions of their users. Political science majors understand how opinions are formed and influenced by various media outlets 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.4
- marketing research analyst
Marketing research analysts analyze how consumers will react to products or services, similar to how political science majors evaluate potential voters’ reactions to candidates. Political science majors study the role of polling research and opinion surveys in election campaigns. The work of market researchers often involves studying consumer reactions to potential or current products and services.
Market research analysts can use the knowledge of research standards that the political scientist has in designing scientifically viable studies. They must present their findings to clients and employees and back up their recommendations with data.
Salary and Job Prospects: 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. BLS expects jobs in this sector to grow 18% between 2019 and 2029-much faster than average.5
- political consultant
Political consultants use knowledge of the political process gained from political science majors to develop strategies for candidates to influence voters and build support in their campaigns for office. Political consultants help brand candidates and repair damaged images.
They seek to influence media coverage of candidates by offering favorable stories and positive views of the candidate’s past performance. These workers may survey potential voters to discern their reaction to a candidate and the basis of their opinion.
Political consultants can also work for public interest groups to help them formulate strategies to promote their causes.
Salary: Glassdoor estimates that political consultants earn an average of $77,368, 6.
Lawyers who work for political figures, interest groups, and lobbying firms use legal research skills developed by political science majors to conduct research on legislative and policy issues. They help draft and edit language for bills and evaluate precedent for pending legislation.
Lawyers formulate and deliver arguments on behalf of their clients and seek to influence decision makers on the merits of their stances. They also rely on political skill in other areas of the law. Lawyers select sympathetic jurors and frame their cases in favorable ways when there are controversial political issues surrounding trials.
Many lawyers work for government agencies where the political scientist’s knowledge of political structures is an asset.
Salary and Job Prospects: The BLS estimates that attorneys 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 this field to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029-about as fast as the average.7
- intelligence analyst
Intelligence analysts work for clandestine agencies of the government such as the CIA and National Security Agency. They use the political scientist’s understanding of political groups to assess developments in volatile areas of the world. These analysts study specific groups that pose a threat to security and analyze leadership patterns and popular support.
Intelligence analysts write reports with their findings and present briefings to agency executives and executive and legislative branch leaders and staff. In addition, foreign language skills of potential terrorists help analysts 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.8
- political campaign staff
Political campaign staff help formulate and execute campaign strategies. They work to build a brand or favorable public image for the candidate.
Staff members use the political science major’s ability to research 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 candidate attention. They recruit, train and supervise volunteers and raise money to fund the campaign.
Salary: ZipRecruiter estimates that campaign staffers 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.9