Jobs in the public service sector can offer employees a sense of purpose. Not only does society benefit when citizens have access to education and services, but public service employees have the opportunity to tackle challenging issues that define the public agenda. These challenges require dedicated and talented individuals who are focused on finding the right solution. Solutions that change the world for the better.
Whether your goals include a job as visible as working for a political campaign or a more community-focused role like managing a local nonprofit, there are a plethora of meaningful careers that make a difference in public service.
While we talked about some of the specific jobs that you may look forward to with a public service degree in our Making a Career in Public Service blog post, here we will outline some of the niche markets that you may focus on with a public service career.
According to The New York Times, the US nonprofit sector is expanding much more rapidly than the for-profit sector. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of local nonprofit organizations increased 25% as opposed to for-profit organizations that only grew by 0.5%. The good news is that this means there is a plethora of opportunities for recent graduates to contribute to their community in a number of different ways.
The role of a nonprofit manager is often not as clearly defined as management roles in other sectors. Oftentimes, nonprofits are understaffed and require management-level employees to wear multiple hats and take on a number of different challenges. This is a great opportunity for individuals who enjoy a challenge and problem-solving.
Despite the fact that nonprofit managers often pitch in all throughout a nonprofit organization, the main priority is still advancing the mission of the nonprofit. Some common career paths in nonprofit management include public relations, financial management, fundraising, and administration.
The emergency services industry provides a range of job opportunities including EMS, fire safety, and law enforcement, amongst others. This is an incredibly diverse industry and employment opportunities can be found in state and federal agencies, municipal levels, and even the private sector. When talking about a career in emergency services, the three most common career paths include firefighters, paramedics, and police officers. Despite which path you choose in emergency services, they all provide an opportunity to make a difference and help people in emergency situations.
There are many benefits to working in the emergency services industry including training opportunities, professional development, and a career where no two days are the same. By definition, these roles are emergency professions which means you shouldn’t expect to work regular hours. Instead, you will need to be flexible, able to work in shifts, be prepared to work longer hours, and be on-call. Hey, being a real life hero doesn’t come easy!
During an emergency, we’re used to seeing firefighters, police officers and EMTs, but there are also a lot of people working behind the scenes who we don’t normally see. An emergency management specialist is often the first defense against disasters. Emergency managers are expert planners who pride themselves on their ability to see the big picture while also paying attention to all the small details. Emergency management specialists develop disaster response plans, train other disaster response professionals, and coordinate emergency personnel in the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or widespread illness. In other words, emergency management specialists work hard to keep emergencies from happening while also preparing adequately in case one does.
Employment of emergency management professionals is projected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026. In addition, students considering a career in emergency management gain skills that are transferable across industries and emergency management professionals are in high-demand in many sectors. For example, in the healthcare field, a emergency management professional might create plans to handle potential disease outbreaks. Or you might choose to work for disaster mitigation companies such as the Red Cross who plan for and execute during large scale natural disasters.
The Department of Homeland Security was created following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with the goal of protecting citizens of the United States. Homeland security professionals are responsible for securing the nation’s borders, airports, seaports, and waterways, as well as developing and testing security technologies.
Whether you are interested in the technology behind our nation’s security or actually being on the ground as an agent, the homeland security industry is likely to have something that would interest you. The Department of Homeland Security consists of fields including counter-terrorism, border security, customs, and cybersecurity. There are many different career paths and job titles for those interested in a career in homeland security. Some job titles you might hold include border patrol agent, CIA analyst, CIA officer, FBI agent, federal air marshal, or secret service agent.
As with the public service segments listed above, the local government segment is also an ideal way to contribute to your community and help those around you. Having the responsibility of the future success of your community can be tedious and challenging, but can also be incredibly rewarding. You have the opportunity to put the goals and needs of the city (or county, state, or any other branch of government you choose to work in) into action.
In total, state and local governments employ about 8.3 million workers, placing them amongst the largest employers in the economy. The local government is awash with opportunities including jobs in city law departments, public administration, social work, and revenue departments, amongst others. The learning opportunities in local government are also exceptional. Depending on your job title and the area of government you choose to work in, you might help make executive decisions regarding laws and regulations, advance technological resources, or determine how to make the lives of citizens better overall. In contrast to working for the federal government, working at the local level allows you to actually witness the changes you’re making on a daily basis.
In addition to the opportunity to make a difference through a career in the public service sector, this industry provides great working conditions, salary, job stability, strong benefits, flexibility, and the opportunity for growth and expansion. Whichever subset of the public service sector you choose to pursue, you can be sure that a job in public services will be challenging, rewarding and a great learning opportunity.