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How to Become A Political Scientist

The basic job of a Political Scientist is to study the origin, expansion and procedures of various political systems. Therefore, they mainly carry out research on political notions and scrutinize governmental policies, political movements, governments themselves and other related aspects.



Should I Become a Political Scientist?

To further define the job aspects of a Political Scientist, we can say that they focus their investigation in one of the areas given below.

  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • National Politics
  • Comparative Politics

Political Scientists may be hired by organizations to work as Policy Analysts who can contribute to the policy formation at the governmental level for political groups or labor unions etc. Their duty is to evaluate already implemented policies and figure out if they are working as they were meant to. To find out the effectiveness of such policies, Policy Analysts carry out public surveys or use election results, economic data and other relevant sources. Political Scientists may be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of certain governmental policies on a specific area or group of people at a local or international scale. Therefore, the results of their evaluation play a crucial role in developing new policies.

Education Required

A master’s or a doctoral degree

Major Requirement

Political Science, Public Administration or a related subject

License/Certification

Not Required

Experience/Training

Completing an internship or volunteer work is beneficial

Key Skills

Analytical, Critical-thinking and Communication skills; detail-oriented, Creative and familiar with scientific research methods.

Annual Mean Salary

$115,300

Job Outlook

5% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Political Scientists earned an annual mean salary of $115,300 in 2018 which approx. equates to $55.43 mean wage per hour. Furthermore, the BLS listed the Federal Executive Branch as the highest paying industry for this occupation with an annual means salary of $126,770. Moreover, the District of Columbia was reported by BLS as the state with highest level of employment (3,220). Whereas, the state of Virginia was listed as the top paying state with an annual mean salary of $128,590 for this career.

Career Requirements

To carry out such evaluations, Political Scientists use both quantitative and qualitative research methods for primary data collection. Since their work is to assess governmental policies, they often analyze old governmental documents to study previous policies and patterns. Therefore, to work in this field, candidates must have excellent research skills, have up to date knowledge of political agendas and should be well versed in international relations.

Steps to Become a Political Scientist 

If you want to build a career in this field and work as a Political Scientist in the industry, then you must acquire the required level of education and work experience.

  1. Education

There are numerous institutions in the U.S. that offer various degree levels in Political Science. For instance, UCLA offers a Bachelor’s of Arts, a Master’s of Arts and a Doctoral degree in Political Science. Apart from a degree in Political Science, graduates with a Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Policy or Master of Public Affairs degrees can also work as Political Scientists. The curriculum of these degrees includes courses such as, Research Methodologies, Political Economy, International Relations and National Policy etc.

  1.  Work Experience  

Although graduates of a bachelor’s degree can get hired at entry-level positions in the industry, employers often prefer hiring candidates with a master’s degree who already have some field experience. Most bachelor’s degree programs facilitate their students by providing them with opportunities to complete internship programs or assistantships with experienced professionals. Those with a master’s or a doctoral degree may get hired by government organizations or by other non-profit organizations against positions like, Researchers, Political Scientists or Policy Analysts etc.

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