What is a political science major?
Those who major in political science study the government structures of countries around the world. They learn how laws are made and how public policy is formed, as well as its impact on a country’s citizens and its economy.
Political science majors learn about the history of governments, political parties and leadership changes. They also tend to have writing and research-based skills and assignments. They analyze data and documents and communicate their findings via analytical papers.
Career opportunities for those with a political science degree depend on the type of degree one received. A bachelor’s degree opens up many entry-level positions for graduates, such as a political analyst position. And master’s degrees open even more doors, including political scientist positions. And finally, doctorate degrees bring even further opportunities including attorney and nonprofit work.
What can you do with a political science degree?
Most people would generally associate political science majors with attending law school post-graduation. While that is one option, it is not the only one. There are many fields one can break into with a political science degree. A few of the most common areas of work are:
Those in PR work to maintain a specific image for a company, an organization or a person, including a politician or a public figure.
With many options in the field of law, political science majors can attend law school to become an attorney or work for a firm with a bachelor’s degree under several different titles we will get into later.
Political science majors have experience in researching and analyzing various policies and their effects, which is a necessary skill sought in government employees.
Whether it’s political campaign consulting or consulting for a company, political science majors apply their heavy research skills in these fields to maximize efficiency and growth.
How much money can you make with a political science degree?
The average political science major in an entry-level position makes a $55,000 salary, and the average salary for those later on in their career is $100,000, according to Payscale.
Salary is dependent on one’s industry, job title, experience, location and education. Those who reside in larger cities make more money, as well as those who have gone back to school to get Master’s and Doctorate degrees.
While lawyers, on average, make over $100,000, urban planners average $70,000 and historians make around $55,000 — two other common careers for political science majors.
What career options are open with a political science degree?
There are plenty of options for careers with a political science degree, and we’re here to list them for you:
1. Policy Analyst
Policy analysts use critical thinking, research and writing skills to analyze certain public policies and the effects they will have upon implementation. Analysts build arguments for or against a policy initiative based on their understanding of the country’s politics, economy, etc.
2. Political Consultant
Political consultants are hired to help promote the image or brand of a political candidate and even work to fix a tainted image if necessary. Political consultants’ main job is to gain the support of voters for their candidate, surveying potential voters during the campaign.
3. Legislative assistant
Legislative assistants are hired by senators, representatives and other elected government officials to assist them with any and all work. They research policy, prepare briefings, track pending legislation, help coordinate with constituents to keep officials up-to-date with developments in their district, and more.
The most obvious field — attorneys can specialize in legal work for political figures or lobbying firms to further their academic research into legislative issues and public policy. Attorneys in these fields help to write and edit the documents for pending legislation.
5. Campaign Staff
Political science majors can work on political campaigns as staff members to help promote a certain candidate and create and execute campaign strategy. They may also test the voters’ reactions to specific platforms of a campaign as well as manage a candidate’s social media and help raise money for campaign funding.
6. Political Scientist
Another government employee career path, political scientists research, gather data and analyze findings relating to political subjects and policies. They work to understand the effects of policies and predict potential effects of others based on past events.
Historians focus solely on information of the past but work to communicate historical facts to others in an interesting way. Historians utilize political science majors’ skills of researching and writing as they generate reports to help guide with decision making based on past experiences in the country.
Unexpected careers for political science majors
While the above may have been predictable career options for those who majored in political science, there are a few other fields outside of government and politics that people are taking advantage of and finding opportunities in.
Political science majors have experience in research and writing — two of the biggest assets for reporting. Some go into journalism and access their communication strengths as well as their knowledge of politics and government.
9. Marketing Director
Developing marketing campaigns can be similar to working on political campaigns — creating an image to appeal to the masses. Marketing directors collect and analyze data to ensure their strategies will be effective.
10. Content Writer
Strong written skills help political science majors transition into the field of content writing. Content writers work for businesses, government organizations, as well as print and digital media companies. They research, report on, and write content related to the brand and their message.
11. History Teacher
Like historians, history teachers need to know their historical facts about US and world politics. A degree in political science is great education to color your experiences as a history teacher.
Political science majors would make ideal librarians who spend a lot of their day helping students and readers of all levels who are trying to learn — often about the history of the country, the world, and politics.
13. Social Worker
Social workers need to have a good grasp on politics and the ways in which the world, and US laws, work in order to support their clients. Unwritten rules, unfounded societal standards, and legitimate laws all paint the way people behave — their actions and inactions. And a political science degree can help social workers understand how all of this comes together and affects clients.
14. Legal Advisor
Most companies need legal advisors to help them navigate different situations with employees, customers, and clients. Someone who understands the way the government works is an ideal legal advisor.
Traders buy and sell stocks, ETFs, crypto, and other assets on various exchanges. But the markets swing up and down, often due to politics. Understanding political history and being able to predict the performance of stocks, for example, based on history, is a valuable skills.
Maximize your job search chances
When deciding what to do with your political science degree, it’s important to first understand your options. Research the various fields and positions related to political science — especially those in which the skills you’ve built will be applicable and beneficial.
If you’re applying to a position somewhat unrelated to your past experience, take the time to figure out what the employer is looking for and figure out a way to highlight the skills you have that relate to their ideal employee. Stress those skills in both your resume and your interview; turn the focus away from your lack of experience in that field and toward the skills you’ve built that will make you the right choice for that position.