Masters in Public Policy Salary Outlook

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If you study towards a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) degree, your goal is to serve the interest of the public. MPP graduates are found in international organizations, consultancy firms, nonprofit organizations, and local government. They work as policy analysts, social entrepreneurs, government consultants, and more. They want to be at the heart of solving some of the biggest global issues, using skills and knowledge in economics, quantitative analysis, management, finance and more, applying these to social problems.

MPP graduates are vital to ensuring that the problems society is facing today and will face in the future can be resolved. They took part in skills-based courses, integrating quantitative analysis, information technology, and management. These skills set them on the road for highly paid careers all over the world.

Graduate Statistics

MPP programs should be accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), which is the only accrediting body for these programs. NASPAA has shown that around 50% of graduates had found employment within government organizations within six months of graduating. They are split across local, state, and federal levels. Additionally, quite a significant number of graduates work in the private sector. Sixty four percent of them work in consulting or conduct research.

Salary Statistics

The salaries for MPP graduates can vary greatly. Factors that influence salaries include work experience, geography, and sector.

The U.S. Census Bureau determined that those who complete the MPP earn around $19,000 per year more than those with a bachelor’s degree in similar positions. As such, the degree provides quite a rapid return on investment. In fact, other studies have found that graduates could expect a 31% increase in their salaries.

Because many graduates find employment within federal government, their earnings will be dependent on the GS (General Schedule), which has been implemented to ensure pay equality. The GS is based on grades and steps. Most MPP graduates enter at the GS-9 level, unless they already have relevant experience, in which case they could enter at GS-11. GS-9 has a starting annual salary of $41,563, and GS-11 starts at $50,287. Usually, graduates get promoted two steps per year.

Significant differences in salary are also found depending on the position someone holds, and where they hold it. Examples with national averages, include:

  • Local government analysts in state or local government can expect starting salaries of between $26,000 and $45,000.
  • Program coordinators in nonprofit organizations can expect starting salaries of between $30,000 and $48,000.
  • Program assistants and program managers in nonprofit organizations can expect starting salaries of between $32,000 and $63,000.
  • Policy analysts in nonprofit or government organizations can expect starting salaries of between $40,000 and $68,000.
  • Statisticians in nonprofit or government organizations can expect starting salaries of between $46,000 and $65,0000.
  • Research associates in nonprofit, government, or private organizations can expect starting salaries of between $50,000 and $60,000.
  • Marketing and PA specialists in nonprofit, government, or private organizations can expect starting salaries of between $66,000 and $85,0000.
  • City managers or chief administrative officers at state and local government can expect starting salaries of between $101,000 and $108,000.

Clearly, there is a tremendous variation in salaries depending on the exact role somebody takes on. The sector in which they work also offers great variation. The three sectors, public, private, and nonprofit, each have their own pros and cons, and only the graduates can make the decision of which sector they want to work in the most. Hence, they have to consider a number of different factors aside from salary. However, average salaries for MPP graduates in each of the three sectors are as follows:

  • Public sector employees can expect a starting salary of $51,630.
  • Private sector employees can expect a starting salary of $75,500.
  • Nonprofit sector employees can expect a starting salary of $40,000.

Specific Roles

There are a number of specific roles that are particularly popular with MPP graduates. These roles show the breadth of positions that are open to them, and how much their salary expectations can vary. That being said, most of these roles also have distinct secondary employment benefits. As such, salary alone does not paint a complete picture.

Politicians, for instance, are responsible for federal, state, and local government. They create laws for the jurisdiction that they represent. When elected to office, they serve their constituents, who are the people that elected them. Politicians can also be ‘executive’, which includes mayors and governors, for instance. Their role is to actually enforce the laws that are passed by the legislative politicians. Someone with an MPP degree has the necessary analysis, research, and problem solving skills to take on this type of position. The salary for a politician can vary quite widely. Some only work part time in a small local municipality, whereas others work at the highest possible federal positions. As such, the average salary is set at $69,700.

Then, there are political scientists. They study and analyze the various facets of policy and government during their MPP degree program. They gain analysis, management, and leadership skills and use these to determine the reaction of the public towards certain leadership. Using their findings, they make predictions on social, political, and economic trends. They often work directly for the government, but can also be found in nonprofit or private organizations. Fifty three percent of political scientists work for the federal government. The average annual salary for a political scientist, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $99,730 per year. They anticipate a 2% decline. Interestingly, both figures present a significant drop since the last census, when average salary stood at $102,000, and growth of 19% was expected.

Policy analysts are also often MPP graduates. They are usually employed in so-called ‘think tanks’, which means that other organizations hire them to complete a piece of research. The results of this research are then used within government and other agencies to make recommendations for policy development. Graduates use their excellent quantitative and qualitative methods, such as surveying and statistics in order to complete their research. Average salaries for these professionals are believed to be between $93,000 and $145,000.

MPP graduates also often work as lobbyists. This is because they are trained to create practical solutions and to influence populations. Lobbyists have to have excellent analytical skills, while also being able to resolve complex new issues. They use these skills to try and influence policy and legislators in order to further the group or cause that they serve. They often work in large corporations, public relations firms, government consulting firms, and unions. They need to have a great deal of understanding of the legislative process and they must have excellent network contacts with policy makers. They meet with these policy makers in order to make presentations, while also facilitating hearings and meetings to ensure they can accomplish their goals. Lobbyists can earn around $91,810 per year, although there are great variations depending on geographical location and the organization that they represent.

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