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Political Scientists Job Outlook

Employment of political scientists is expected to grow 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment will increase in response to a growing interest in public policy and political issues. There will be demand for those with extensive knowledge of political systems, institutions, and policies.

Political organizations, lobbying firms, and many nonprofit, labor, and social organizations will rely on the knowledge of political scientists to manage increasingly complicated legal and regulatory issues and policies. Some political scientists will be needed at think tanks to focus specifically on politics and political theory. Organizations that research or advocate for specific causes, such as immigration, health care, or the environment, will also need political scientists to analyze policies relating to their field.

Because the federal government employs more than half of all political scientists, employment growth will be tempered as overall employment in the federal government declines. However, political scientists will still be needed to assess the impact of government policies, such as the efficiencies of public services, effects of departmental cuts, and advantages of proposed improvements.

Job Prospects

Political scientists should face strong competition for most jobs. The small number of positions, combined with the popularity of political science programs in colleges and universities, means that there will likely be many qualified candidates for relatively few positions. Candidates with a graduate degree, strong writing and analytical skills, and experience researching or performing policy analysis should have the best job prospects. Candidates who have specialized knowledge or experience in their field of interest will also have better opportunities.

Some of those with a bachelor’s degree in political science may find entry-level jobs as research assistants or analysts. Many will also find positions outside of politics and policy in fields such as business and law.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition