A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is the public sector equivalent of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. An MPA program helps students develop the management and organizational skills needed to implement and administer policies and programs. Recipients of the degree often pursue careers in local, state and federal government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations. Students who earn their MPAs can expect a boost in their salaries, the magnitude depending on the careers they pursue.
Recipients of an MPA degree pursue a variety of career paths in government, nonprofit organizations and even business. Job titles often held by MPAs include executive director of a nonprofit group, human resources director, management analyst, public policy analyst, business consultant and program administrator, according to the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. NASPAA reported that executive directors of nonprofit organizations earn a median annual salary of $60,000, while human resources directors earn $88,000 a year. Other average annual salaries include $51,000 for a management analyst, $45,000 for a policy analyst, $60,000 for a business consultant and $40,000 for a program administrator.
NASPAA reported that many students with an MPA pursue careers in the federal government, which operates a General Schedule salary schedule that consists of 15 grades, with 10 steps on each grade level. To illustrate the value of an MPA or other master’s degree, NASPAA reported that the recipient of a bachelor’s degree can enter the federal government on GS Grade 7, starting at nearly $34,000 a year. A person with an MPA can enter at GS 9, starting at $41,563 a year, a $7,500 increase over the starting salary for an undergraduate degree. Most federal workers’ salaries advance about two steps within a particular pay grade each year, according to NASPAA.
City Government Careers
Many men and women with MPAs seek careers in municipal governments, working as city managers, financial officers and heads of other city departments, such as human resources, recreation, purchasing, planning and economic development. NASPAA reported average salaries for a range of city government jobs on its website. City managers, who function as the chief operating officer of a city, earn an average of $85,587 a year, while chief financial officers earn nearly $67,000 a year. Other average annual salaries include $60,313 for a human resources director; $57,857 for a parks and recreation director; $52,156 for a director of purchasing; and $64,155 to $65,591 for planning and economic development directors.
Other Career Paths
Specialties within the field of public administration include urban planning and government budgeting. PayScale reported results of a salary survey of more than 400 MPA recipients in January 2011. According to the website, budget analysts earn annual salaries ranging from $45,379 to $71,621 a year, while urban planners’ salaries average between $43,000 and $58,000 a year.