Government and Public Administration Career Cluster Overview
You probably spend much of every day complaining about things you do not like about school such as unfair grading practices, broken lockers, or gum under the desks. Although some students will just complain, others will try to change these troubling issues. Perhaps you are prepared to speak to the principal, write to school board members, or to just take a putty knife and scrape the gum off the desk yourself. If so, you may have the kind of leadership skills necessary for a career in politics. Though most people form opinions on political issues, some take their civic concerns even further by devoting their lives to government- related careers.
For some of these careers, you must be elected. Local, state, and federal officials, such as governors, state legislators, and U.S. Congress members must campaign and attract voters. The process of obtaining office can be a long, hard struggle. And once elected, the term in office may be as short as two years, as in the House of Representatives. The higher the office, the more time and money the candidate spends to campaign for the position. Political candidates begin by getting petitions with lists of signatures to show that there are several hundred or, in some cases, several thousand registered voters interested in having them run for office. After announcing their candidacy, candidates proceed to advertise, speak at public and private gatherings, and meet with the public frequently in order to keep their names in the minds of voters. Candidates hire many employees that help them get to know the public (and vice-versa) and manage the candidate’s busy schedule. Some examples of these employees are campaign managers, press representatives, public relations specialists, financial advisers, and fund-raisers, just to name a few. If the candidate wins, many of these employees often stay on to work in the elected official’s office.
Not all important political decisions and campaigns revolve around Washington, D.C., however. Every state, county, and city has its own unique concerns and issues. And not every person involved in local politics is an elected official. Hired city managers and urban planners gauge the needs of their cities and local communities and propose changes to government officials. Among the responsibilities of managers and planners are the preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods, the development of affordable housing and efficient public transportation, the building of civic centers and auditoriums, and the design of new parks and recreational areas.
Government and Public Administration Career Pathways
The government and public administration cluster contains seven career pathways: foreign service, governance, national security, planning, public management and administration, regulation, and regulation and taxation.
Foreign Service Career Path
Foreign Service workers serve as representatives of the United States in its embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the world. People in Foreign Service positions are not elected, rather, they apply for or are appointed to their posts. Work in Foreign Service is divided into four areas: administration (workers who manage U.S. agencies abroad); consular affairs (workers who provide medical, legal, and other services to U.S. citizens traveling abroad); economic and commercial affairs (workers who study foreign economies and how they might affect the United States); and political affairs (workers who study the impact of U.S. and foreign political changes). Workers in this area, as in many areas of government, are subject to extensive background screening. Jobs in Foreign Service include ambassadors, cultural officers, and Foreign Service officers.
Governance Career Path
This pathway includes all of the officials who are elected and appointed to national, state, and local offices. Workers in this area, including the president, members of Congress, and mayors, create and implement public policy and laws. This pathway also includes the many support and administrative workers who help officials perform their jobs. Jobs in this area include appointed and elected officials, city managers, congressional aides, and lobbyists.
National Security Career Path
The careers in this pathway are all based in the armed services. Our system of national security is a complex one that demands people with all types of skills, such as business, medical, legal, mechanical, and many more. A career in the army, navy, air force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or National Guard involves rigorous training and a hefty commitment of time and energy. But job satisfaction is often quite high in this field, which presents opportunities for almost every interest. Jobs in this area include cryptographic technicians, intelligence officers, mechanical engineers, and military pilots.
Planning Career Path
People who work in the planning pathway make decisions about how to best use land and resources. They take a look at many factors, including population, industry, and traffic patterns, and figure out how to use an area’s resources for the greatest benefit and with the least harm to the environment. They give their plans and recommendations to officials or legislative bodies, who then decide whether or not to implement or refine them. Jobs in this pathway include business managers, city planners, and statisticians.
Public Management and Administration Career Path
Careers in this pathway deal with the budgeting, management, and staffing of agencies and offices that deal with public resources. There are strict and complex rules that govern this field. Workers here must have a firm grasp on these rules and their own obligations to the public in their work. Jobs in this pathway include city managers, court clerks, and purchasing managers.
Regulation Career Path
Work in the regulation pathway requires knowledge of a certain industry or area, such as construction, coupled with a knowledge of the laws and regulation that apply to that industry. Workers in this area make sure that buildings are up to fire codes, that manufacturers are not harming the environment when they dispose of wastes, and that airlines are adhering to the latest safety and security measures. Examples of careers in regulation include aviation safety inspectors, bank examiners, and fire safety inspectors.
Revenue and Taxation Career Path
Revenue and taxation professionals work with taxes and tax laws. They collect and monitor taxes, perform audits, review tax returns, and keep track of fines for overdue taxes. People who work in this pathway must stay up-to-date on tax laws, which change from year to year. Revenue and tax professionals must be good with money and numbers and are responsible for a great deal of private and sensitive information. Examples of careers in the revenue and taxation pathway are auditors, tax attorneys, and employees of the Internal Revenue Service.
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Exploring Government and Public Administration Careers
Many people working in government hold degrees in law, economics, journalism, and political science. The faculties of political science departments of colleges and universities across the country are also involved in politics without directly affecting laws. They study government, research legislation and history, publish articles, and teach undergraduate and graduate courses. To pursue a career in revenue and taxation, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or economics is generally considered a good choice. Joining one of the branches of the armed forces is the standard path of entry into the national security sector. Besides providing a valuable service to your country, you can also take advantage of various armed forces scholarships that can help you pay for your college education.
While you are in school, take advantage of opportunities to develop your leadership and teamwork skills by joining clubs and sports teams. Volunteering your time and energy to help clean city parks, spend time with the elderly, and working at local shelters will also provide you with the community- mindedness that is vital to a career in government and public administration.
Government and Public Administration Careers Outlook
Careers in politics are affected by the global political climate. Public safety, terrorism, the environment, global health concerns, and cultural diversity are major issues in the world today. The Internet and other communication technologies will continue to change the way we think about copyrights and ownership. Health care, taxation, education, and human rights will always be near the top of political agendas.
The agencies of the Foreign Service and the number of Foreign Service officers hired will be affected by the closing of embassies and consulates around the world. The relations between the United States and other countries will determine funding for international affairs.
Although there is always the possibility of staff cutbacks on local, regional, and federal levels, job opportunities in government and public administration will remain strong. The government will always require employees to accomplish its work.
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