MPA or JD or Both? What Degree Is Right for Your Career?

It’s not always obvious which master’s degree will advance your career in public service law. You may think a JD is the way to go, but the most obvious choice is not always the right one. Think about what role in public service law you would like to fill — there may be another graduate degree that will better compliment your career path. For instance, earning an MPA rather than a JD (or earning both) may create the opportunities you’re looking for.

What Is an MPA Degree?

An Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree allows you to work in public service law implementing policies, making management choices, and working in the support of a variety of public issues, including discrimination, environmental protection, civil rights, women’s rights, immigration issues, and more. This type of degree does not allow you to practice law but does prepare you to work in the area of public service law. An MPA is typically completed in 12 to 24 months, allowing you to enter the workforce more quickly that when you earn a JD. When you work in a public service career after graduation, you may qualify for forgiveness on some of your student loans.

What Is a JD Degree?

A Juris Doctor (JD) is designed to train lawyers to work in the field of law, such as a private practice lawyer or a judge. JD programs focus on teaching students what they need to know to work in a courtroom and build a case for or against litigants. In this way, the JD degree isn’t as conducive to working in the area of public service, though lawyers certainly have their place in this field. A JD degree typically takes 33 months to complete.

How Do These Degrees Align With Career Goals?

Setting career goals before you start your classes will ensure you are heading in the right direction for your desired profession. The MPA is designed to help you obtain a career working in the public service field so you can work on creating policies for a variety of causes, including those that are close to your heart. However, a JD will provide you with training in the nuances of law and how to practice it so you can become a private practice lawyer or judge. While someone with a JD can certainly work in the public sector, typically as an adviser, there is more flexibility in this area if you possess an MPA.

Why Do You Need an MPA, JD, or Both?

Choosing which of these degree programs is best for you and your needs requires you to consider where you would like your career to take you. Work in the public service field requires specific knowledge of how government works and how policies are created and administered. Because this field covers such a broad range of specialty areas, it is important to consider which issues you would like to work to change and improve the quality of life for the general public. If this is your goal in life, the MPA is a solid choice. You may still work in the public service area with a JD, however. In these cases, you will typically advise on the legalities of proposed policies to ensure they are legally sound and constitutionally appropriate. Obtaining both an MPA and a JD can offer more opportunities and make you more appealing to potential employers, though it is not typically necessary to carry both.

Before you decide which degree you would like to pursue, considering your end goal. While some people consider the length of education and the cost of the program in their decision, it is important to understand what role you wish to fill. In the public service sector, both an MPA and a JD have their place; it is up to you to determine which one will best meets your desires or if you prefer to have the benefit of both.

Preparing for an MPA Admissions Interview

If you’ve committed to pursuing your Master’s in Public Administration, it’s important to know as much about the process as possible in order to ensure success. One step of the process is the admissions interview. The more prepared you are for this interview, the more relaxed you’ll feel and the more likely it is that the interview will go smoothly.

Preparation a Few Days in Advance

Review your application thoroughly a few days before the interview and one more time about an hour or so before it happens. You’ll refresh yourself on what you said before and you’ll be prepared to address specific talking points. It’s also to your benefit to conduct some background research about the professors in the program, particularly any professors you may want to work with directly. Knowing their research interests, for example, can lead to greater control of the interview on your side and show your commitment to learning as much as possible about the school before committing to attend.

Interview Attire

Whether you’re completing the interview in person or on video, dress professionally. After all, you’re interviewing for the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty and possibly even be considered for graduate teaching or research assistantships. Put your best foot forward with business attire.

Pitch and Language

Even when you’re practicing for the interview, use professional language. Think about your research interests and the reasons you are considering this school. Prepare an “elevator speech” (a 30-40 second explanation of your research and how you plan to do it). Don’t get bogged down in details. Your elevator pitch should include how you became interested in the research, what you’ve done to this point, and how you plan to tackle the project. Prepare in advance by thinking about what questions you might be asked in the interview and what “sound bites” you’re prepared to answer with. Keep answers concise. The better you know your topic and your goals, the easier you’ll find the interview process.

Video Chat and Video Interviews

Just because the interview is being conducted through a web application doesn’t mean you should be any less prepared or professional. Since you’re not there in person, stand out from the crowd and make sure your goals and plans come through. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact just as you would if you were meeting face to face, and make sure you don’t have any background noise or interruptions that could disturb the interview.

Common Interview Questions

Depending on the personalities of the staff and faculty on the interview, there are multiple directions these questions could go, but you should always be ready to answer a few core questions, such as: Why are you applying to this university? What are your goals after you receive your MPA? What have you done to prepare for this experience? Why do you think you’d make a good fit for this program/department/college/field? What are some of your accomplishments that have prepared you? Before your interview, don’t forget to take a deep breath and remind yourself of all the things you’ve done to this point; those accomplishments and your preparation will guide you through.

5 Tips for Applying to MPA Programs

The idea of going to grad school is exciting. For many master’s degree seekers, it means becoming a student again after years in the workforce, the opportunity to advance in your career or transition into a new one, and a chance to better yourself. But the application process itself can be intimidating, especially in the highly complex field of public service. How do you know which degree or is right for you? Or which school? Here are five basic tips that will help you realistically evaluate your options, prepare for the graduate school application process, and make the decision that will help you best achieve your goals:

1. Evaluate Your Degree Options Before selecting particular graduate schools to apply to, make sure that you understand all the degree options relevant to your professional interests. For those interested in public service, the two primary degree options are a Masters of Public Administration and a Masters of Public Policy. Coursework for the two degrees overlaps significantly, as do potential job options. However, MPA programs emphasize program implementation and public management, while MPP programs emphasize policy analysis and design. While these two degrees do not lead to mutually exclusive job options, you should still seriously consider which career path interests you the most.

2. Understand the Career Opportunities Once you have chosen your desired degree, research the realistic career opportunities for MPA graduates. Be conscious of the difference between entry-level opportunities and jobs that you might attain after gaining years of experience. For instance, some positions may require an MPA, but you may also need other key qualifications in order to even be considered for the job. Mid-level managerial positions at a local, state, or federal government agency or a nonprofit organization are more realistic possibilities for newly-minted MPAs, while a few years of experience will lead to opportunities for further advancement. Regardless of what degree you seek, a range of possibilities should be open to you upon graduation.

3. Determine the Requirements In addition to a bachelor’s degree and the desire to better yourself, every graduate program has some requirements for admission. Specifics vary from school to school, but most schools will have relatively similar requirements for entry into a given degree program. Most MPA programs, for example, will require a bachelor’s degree with some coursework in American government or politics, a GPA in the A or B range, and GMAT or GRE scores within a given bracket. Although many schools do not state precise requirements (and some allow a degree of flexibility for exceptional candidates), looking at statistical profiles of accepted students should reveal expectations.

4. Evaluate Schools Finding the right graduate school is a different process for every individual. Among the schools that offer your degree of choice, you will have to look closely at factors like school ranking, tuition, funding, location, culture, and faculty. Many applicants find themselves intensely attracted to the most prestigious institutions in their field, but other factors often have greater influence over a student’s satisfaction and academic engagement. Choosing a place you really believe you can happily be a part of for two or three years, and where you will comfortably connect with other students and faculty is wiser than choosing a big-name school on reflex. If you are unable to relocate to attend graduate school on campus, online MPA programs such as University of North Carolina’s MPA@UNC can provide you with the same degree as students who complete the school’s on-campus program.

5. Meet with Admissions Counselors, Students, and Graduates Once you have selected a small range of target schools, you will want to talk to the people who know those institutions best. This will help you to get a clear picture of what to emphasize in your application, what to expect once you are admitted, and how to plan for your future beyond graduation. Ideally, you will be accepted into several programs and have the ability to choose the program that is best for you. Although it can be flattering to receive phone calls or emails from program representatives trying to persuade you to attend their institution, it is important to always keep your goals and priorities at the forefront of your mind and base your final decision on what is best for you. Whether you move across the country to live on campus and attend a traditional, bricks-and-mortar university, or you decide to stay where you are and enroll in an online program, remember why you chose to earn your degree in the first place and allow it to serve as your driver throughout your time as a graduate student.

Famous MPA Graduates

If you’re unfamiliar with what an MPA is, at the very least you’ll know some of these famous graduates of MPA programs. Many of the world’s foremost leaders in public policy received masters in public administration degrees before leading outstanding careers. Here’s a list of some of the most successful MPA graduates from both within the United States and around the globe. Feel free to suggest your own!

David Petraeus, Director of the CIA Petraeus is a former Commander of United States Central Command, former commanding general of American-led forces in Afghanistan, and the current director of the CIA. He received both an MPA and a PhD from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Petraeus was even a rumored presidential candidate at one point, but denied that he has any political aspirations.

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon succeeded Kofi Annan in 2007 to become the 80th leader of the United Nations. After receiving a B.A. in International Relations from Seoul National University, Ban earned his MPA at the Kennedy School of Government. So far, as Secretary-General of the UN Ban has worked to address global policy issues such as weapons of mass destruction, the Middle East peace process, global warming, Darfur, and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee is Singapore’s third prime minister, and the son of its first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. In addition to degrees in mathematics and computer science, Lee holds an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Lee’s accomplishments include elections reforms, the establishment of maternity leave in response to a declining birth rate, and returning budget surpluses to the Singaporean people.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia Sirleaf is both the first and the only female head of state in Africa. After earning an accounting degree as an undergraduate, Sirleaf received her MPA from the Kennedy School of Government. In addition to being elected president of Liberia, Sirleaf received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her work towards the advancement of women’s rights.

Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico Felipe Calderon became the president of Mexico in 2006. After receiving degrees in both law and economics, Calderon attend the Kennedy School of Government for his MPA. Despite having to deal with the fierce Mexican drug cartels, Calderon has greatly expanded access to education and health care in Mexico.

Ray Kelly, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is currently in his second term as police commissioner for New York City. After studying law in New York, Kelly went to the Kennedy School of Government for his MPA. Kelly is credited for his work on enforcement of quality of life crimes in New York City, as well as revamped counter-terrorist efforts in the years since 9/11.

How to Become a Lobbyist

If you have always been interested in politics and want to affect policy, you must learn how to become a lobbyist. This career depends on the ability to build rapport with people and to use analytical skills to determine how bills will affect your client’s position on various issues. There are certain fields you can enter straight out of college, but lobbying, even though it doesn’t require a degree, is a position you typically achieve by climbing the ladder.

Educational Background Requirements

While a college degree is not required for many lobbying positions, a bachelor’s degree and a successful internship are often expected to obtain a secure job in the future. Your studies should demonstrate the ability to reason, as well as an understanding of how the law works. Debate, model legislature and other such extracurricular activities can improve your resume, as can volunteer work with nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. Some of the best majors for a lobbying career include law, political science, history, economics and other humanities that look at the facts and figures that affect today’s legal policies. Regardless of your college education, however, your self-led learning should include familiarity with politics. It may be that you are interested in a wide range of issues or you tend to focus strongly on just one. Whatever the case, without an interest in laws and regulations, you may not find lobbying to be a fulfilling career.

Volunteer Experience

There are two basic styles of lobbying. The first entails working directly with legislatures in an attempt to convince people to create laws that work in a group’s favor. Lobbyists for the Nature Conservancy , for instance, helped representatives in Minnesota add an environmental clause to the state constitution. The other kind of lobbyist organizes groups of people to contact legislators. Grassroots organizations without the large donations of established charities can accomplish more solely by creating petitions and organizing demonstrations. It is much easier to fill the role of a volunteer organizer than of an official lobbyist for a charity group. Working with small groups or working on an individual project can pave the way to an internship in the future. Landing an intern position can be difficult without either education or experience. The contacts you will make while volunteering for an organization can be an important step in becoming a lobbyist.

Internships

An official position as a lobbyist for a business, industry or organization can be difficult to obtain. Most give preference to candidates who have relevant college courses or experience. Most internships aren’t paid, but they do offer invaluable experience necessary to become a lobbyist. You must apply for intern positions in the same manner through which you would apply for a traditional job. Lobbyist interns often spend their time in meetings or completing errands for the other employees working in an office. They take a lot of notes, as well as observe and handle minor responsibilities, such as responding to e-mails or managing social media posts. An internship working for a Congressional representative can be a major boost to your career. You will see firsthand how lawmakers operate, giving you a valuable look at the ways lobbyists make the biggest impact. Working in the Senate or House of Representatives can also be one way of obtaining high-quality professional contacts.

Work Experience

There were 12,400 people working as professional lobbyists in 2011. To become one of them, you need to combine experience, education and contacts. You can achieve these necessary elements by filling a variety of roles, either in paid or unpaid positions, and by always looking for new opportunities for advancement. If you truly want to know how to become a lobbyist, you must first join an organization or campaign in a lesser role, such as a public relations associate, and graduate to lobbyist as openings become available. The important thing is to make your interest in this role known and make an effort to help, regardless of whether it’s in your current job description. Eventually, with patience and persistence, you will join this influential and prosperous profession.

New York City Government Profile

New York City is one of the most powerful cities in the world. Because of its sheer size and importance, it seems natural that the city would employ one of the largest governments in the United States. As the city with the biggest population in the United States at over eight million individuals, New York City requires an extensive city government.

New York City Government Jobs The New York City government employs more than 300,000 employees who work in close to 70 departments throughout the city. Many of the city’s employees hold full-time, year-round positions, though others work in seasonal government jobs. You can find a full listing of government agencies on the New York City website. Some of the agencies include:

  • Department of Education
  • Children’s Services
  • Board of Correction
  • Department of Sanitation
  • Police and Fire Departments
  • Homeless Services
  • Information Technology
  • City Libraries
  • Emergency Management

Elected Positions in the New York City Government Some New York City government jobs require individuals to be elected into office. New York City has approximately 64 elected officials that work within the city’s government. Fifty-one of these officials work in the city council and represent residents in each area of the city. In addition to the city council members, other elected positions include:

  • The mayor
  • Comptroller
  • Public advocate
  • Borough presidents
  • Borough district attorneys

Employment Support for New York City Government Jobs Having the right education and training is essential to obtaining employment in the New York City government. New York City offers assistance to those who wish to gain employment. The Citywide Training Center offers courses for people who need to improve their skills or acquire new ones to enhance their work. These professional development courses cover the areas of IT, managerial, professional, and clerical jobs. Many of the courses are available through an e-learning program, which allows you to complete the required coursework at your own pace.

New York City Employee Benefits The New York City government offers competitive benefits in addition to a generous salary for each job. These benefits include health insurance, flexible spending accounts, access to a municipal credit union, deferred payment plans, retirement benefits, and more. Some individuals may qualify for pensions, such as those who work in the police force or fire department.

New York City Government Financials New York City created the Checkbook NYC website as a way to provide citizens with the transparency they desire. The website details the budget, revenue, spending, contracts, and payroll of the New York City government. According to the site, spending within the New York City government is approximately $16 billion. About $5.4 billion of that money is spent on payroll payments for its 300,000 employees. Contract spending is the next largest portion at $4.8 billion. The department that spends the largest portion of the budget overall is the Department of Education, which accounts for $3.85 billion. Other top spending areas include the Department of Social Services, pension contributions, miscellaneous expenses, and the police department. The top payroll spenders in the New York City government include:

  • The Department of Education
  • Police Department
  • Miscellaneous
  • Fire Department
  • Department of Correction

Highlights, Accomplishments, and Notable Failures Within the New York City Government New York City offers its citizens a unique service that allows residents to gather information and request government services. Once citizens request services on the NYC 311 website, they can track those requests through the website and learn when they can expect action. This tool has made dealing with issues in New York City easier for residents. The Supportive Housing Network of NY has made great strides in tallying and launching campaigns to help those who are homeless in the city. In addition to providing resources for the general homeless population, this group focuses on helping at-risk youth take steps to ensure their success in the future. One of the biggest concerns that has impacted New York City in recent times is the allegations that the government is set up to cater to two special interest areas: real estate and public sector employees. While this may not be considered a failure by some, it is something the government is striving to correct in order to create a level playing field to better serve its citizens.

31 Public Service Career Sites You Should Be Following

If you work in public service or are seeking a career in this rewarding field, check out the links below for new job opportunities and useful resources to help accelerate your career.

1. Careers in Government

The goal of Careers in Government (CIG) is to connect qualified professionals with employers in government and the public sector. CIG also provides a forum for the exchange of information about public sector careers.

2. Commongood Careers

Commongood Careers is a nonprofit search firm that works with over 200 nonprofit organizations in 29 states to find talented individuals to fill open positions. Current job listings and application instructions are available on the website.

3. Idealist

Idealist provides searchable listings for thousands of jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities in nonprofit, non-governmental, and government agencies. Jobs range from entry-level to executive, with education requirements ranging from high school through doctorate.

4. PublicServiceCareers.org

Sponsored by several top associations in the  fields of public policy and public administration, this website is a leading source for professional jobs in the public sector. PublicServiceCareers.org includes job postings for positions in government, nonprofits, NGOs, academia, and consulting, and also provides information and advice about public service careers.

5. Give to Get Jobs

This site, run by a mother-daughter team, is a hub for job openings in socially responsible for-profit companies. Sample job postings include Hospital Director at Nyaya Health in Nepal and a Product Manager at Tech Soup Global.

6. Opportunity Knocks

A national online job board that focuses on the nonprofit community, Opportunity Knocks provides job-seeking advice and information about nonprofit careers as well as job postings from 30,000 member organizations. Examples of listed jobs include Program Manager for the United Way of Greater Atlanta and Associate Director of Planned Giving for the Salvation Army.

7. Devex

Devex provides global recruitment services for international aid and development positions at NGOs and aid organizations. The website offers career advice and a searchable job board.

8. Professionals for NonProfits

Professionals for NonProfits (PNP) is a recruiting firm focused on addressing the staffing needs of nonprofit organizations in the eastern United States. Its job board allows job seekers to search by job type, specialty, or location.

9. Volunteer Crossing

Volunteer Crossing hosts the largest online listing of volunteer opportunities within the United States, and it also provides volunteering advice and information. Volunteer positions in animal care, government service, nursing, education, social work, and the environment are examples of the categories covered.

10. The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit advisor for philanthropists and mission-driven organizations, runs a Nonprofit Jobs Center to connect nonprofit organizations with qualified candidates for management, leadership, and board of directors positions.

11. Jobscoop

Formerly known as the Nonprofit Jobs Cooperative, this job board features current listings of nonprofit and public benefit jobs across the United States. Job seekers can upload resumes and videos, save searches, and receive job alerts by email.

12. NonProfit-jobs.org

This website is an online gathering place for nonprofit employers and management personnel. It allows job candidates to search job listings and employers to post open positions in the nonprofit sector.

13. Roll Call Jobs

This job search website, sponsored by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, lists positions in public affairs and government relations in the Washington, D.C. area and throughout the United States.

14. America’s Job Bank

The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors this job hub, which links to job banks for individual states, government agencies, and private sector organizations. This website also includes information about employers, occupations, and salaries.

15. USA Jobs

USA Jobs is the official online job site for the U.S. federal government. The site includes Pathways Programs that target the employment and internship needs of students and recent graduates. USA Jobs also allows job seekers to search for jobs by college major.

16. International City/County Management Association

The ICMA job center provides a database of current job openings in local governments. Positions range from intern to city/county manager. Job seekers are provided with a variety of search criteria, including job function, location, salary, and area population.

17. Council on Foundations

Philanthropic organizations are the focus of this website. Its Career Center provides job listings as well as professional development opportunities and salary data for positions within foundations. Example job posts include Business Services and Communications Officer for the United Nations Foundation and Development Officer for the World Wild Life Fund.

18. Chronicle of Philanthropy

An online news journal for nonprofit executives, the Chronicle of Philanthropy provides a job database with hundreds of executive, fundraising, and program management opportunities. Career news and advice are also available on the website.

19. The NonProfit Times

Sponsored by the leading business publication for nonprofit management, the NPT Jobs Career Center lists thousands of jobs and provides tips, articles, and white papers on nonprofit careers. Posted jobs range from fundraising to communications management to executive-level positions.

20. Public Affairs Council

This website offers job search and career management tips as well as postings for jobs and internships in public affairs. The listed positions are chiefly within corporations, associations, and advocacy groups in the Washington, D.C. area.

21. SocialService.com

SocialService.com lists job openings throughout the United States including jobs in social work, counseling, mental health, psychology, case management, substance abuse treatment, community development, and other areas of social service. Registered job seekers can receive new job postings via e-mail.

22. GovernmentJobs.com

This website is an online recruiting site for jobs within state and city governments. Anyone can search through job listings on this site, but to apply for specific job postings, job seekers must register first.

23. PSJD

Formerly known as PSLawNet, PSJD is a public service job and internship clearinghouse for law students and lawyers. This free resource is a collaborative effort among 200 American and Canadian law schools. In addition to a job database, PSJD offers a variety of online career-building resources.

24. International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting economic development professionals. It provides networking opportunities, professional development programs, and practitioner certification. A job listings section of the website includes job posts from IEDC member organizations.

25. Administration Jobs

This job board includes administration positions in nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses. It features a wide variety of career opportunities in public administration, benefits administration, healthcare administration, and contract administration.

26. National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits operates through 36 state associations that work with more than 25,000 community-based nonprofits. The organization’s Nonprofit Job and Career Center allows job seekers to post a resume, view hundreds of open positions, and set up email job alerts. Sample job postings include Senior Director of Communications for the Presbyterian Church and Executive Director for the Rocky Mountain Development Council.

27. NPO.net

NPO.net allows job seekers to set up an account, post a resume, search for nonprofit positions, and apply for jobs online. Most jobs listed on the site are located in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Texas.

28. GuideStar

GuideStar is an information clearinghouse that seeks to revolutionize philanthropy by promoting nonprofit transparency. The website includes a database of nearly 2 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations along with financial data and legitimacy information. This resource helps job seekers research organizations before they apply for employment.

29. Nonprofit Career Network

This nonprofit employment resource allows job seekers to post a resume or search for positions by state and contact employers directly. The website also includes a directory of contact information for nonprofit organizations. Member organizations include the ACLU, Special Olympics International, Habitat for Humanity International, and a wide variety of other leading nonprofits.

30. Foundation Center

Supported by nearly 550 nonprofit foundations, the Foundation Center is a leading source of information about global philanthropy. The organization’s website provides access to a foundation directory, grant guides, and both online and classroom training courses.

Public Sector Benefits vs. Private Benefits

One of the most important questions individuals have when pursuing a new career is the benefits it will provide. Students who are trying to decide between completing an MPA and an MBA are particularly interested in the difference between public sector benefits and private sector benefits. The differences between these compensation packages, which have been greatly debated in recent years, can help a student decide which path to pursue.
The Need for a Fair Comparison When you are discussing the differences between benefits offered in the public and private sectors, it is important to create a fair comparison. Many people simply look at the salary of a job and determine which one is better based on this fact alone. These jobs often offer other benefits in addition to direct compensation. This includes health insurance contributions, pensions, retirement contributions, and paid time off. As a result, it is important to look at an entire compensation package and its value when comparing the two sectors. Comparing Salaries by the Numbers As you look at the public and private sectors to compare benefits, it is important to consider the statistics in regard to these jobs. Students must determine which types of benefits are available in each sector and how these benefits meet their individual needs. Many jobs offer the following:

  • Salary Compensation – The salary is often the easiest factor to see when considering a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009, public sector jobs paid about $2,400 more than private sector jobs on average. These numbers will vary depending on the career path and a variety of other factors.
  • Union Membership – Unions and their pursuit of workers’ rights, wages, and benefits are in the news often. In general, these unions obtain higher salaries and compensation packages for member employees. Union membership is more common in the public sector. Approximately 36.2 percent of public sector employees are members, while just 6.9 percent of private employees belong to unions.
  • Retirement Benefits – This is an important benefit for those who are looking toward the future. Public sector benefits often include a traditional pension package. Seventy-nine percent of public sector jobs offer this benefit. Only about 20 percent of private sector employees have a similar plan. Private sector jobs typically offer 401K retirement plans, but not all employers offer contributions to the plan.
  • Health Care – Health care is an important factor, especially in light of the health care reform policies. Employees in the public sector are more likely to be offered insurance, both while they work and after retirement, than their counterparts in the private sector. The cost of enrolling in these plans is also lower for public sector employees than those working in the private sector.
  • Raise Opportunities – Another major consideration is the opportunity for raises within a career path. Raises in both sectors will vary greatly depending on the current state of the economy. Public sector jobs, though, are more likely to experience budget cuts and reduce or eliminate raises during certain budget periods. Private sectors are not immune to this issue either. If a company experiences a poor profit year, it may also implement budget cuts that affect salaries.

Do These Benefits Mean Public Sector Is Best? While it seems that public sector benefits are clearly better than private sector benefits, public sector jobs are not necessarily the better choice for everyone. Students who earn an advanced degree are typically able to earn more money if they work in the private sector than if they work in government positions. This fact also makes it more difficult to compare jobs in each sector. Many employers, both private businesses and government agencies, must put together the most appealing package to attract qualified candidates to the jobs that are available. It is then up to potential employees to determine whether they want a higher salary rate or better benefits. Choosing your career path before you earn an advanced degree is important to ensure you choose the right degree program. Whether you pursue an MBA or an MPA should involve deciding what type of work you would like to perform and the type and amount of compensation you expect to receive. Both the public and private sectors have their own advantages and disadvantages. Taking a close look at the public sector benefits versus the private sector benefits can help you choose the best advanced degree program for you.

Government Employee Discounts

Government jobs offer many advantages, including stability, paths for advancement, and retirement benefits. Another lesser-known reward of the job comes in the form of discounts provided by private companies in appreciation for the work performed by government employees and members of the military. Browse the list below for information about a variety of government employee discounts.

INSURANCE DISCOUNTS FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

Geico Discounts for Federal Employees Amount: Varies by offer. Eligibility: Active or retired federal government employees (GS-7 and above). Visit website to see a list of other federal groups that are eligible. Description: Discounts on automobile insurance are available in most states and the District of Columbia.

Travelers Federal Government Program Amount: Varies by offer. Eligibility: Available for government employees who are members of the Recreation and Welfare Association. Description: Discounts on home, renters, auto, boat, and umbrella insurance plans.

MOBILE PHONE AND WIRELESS SERVICE DISCOUNTS

AT&T Government Employee Discount Amount: Discount of at least 15 percent available to all who qualify. Eligibility: Visit website and enter employee email address to verify eligibility. Description: Government employees may qualify for personal mobile service at a discounted rate.

T-Mobile Government Employee Discounts Amount: Varies by offer. Eligibility: Federal government employees. Description: Government employees who join the T-Mobile Advantage Program receive discounts on smartphones, tablets, and mobile hotspots as well as discounts on their monthly bills and free standard shipping.

Verizon Employee Discount Program Amount: Varies by offer. Eligibility: Visit website and enter employee email address to verify eligibility. Description: Verizon offers discounts on mobile phones, accessories, and calling plans to some government employees.

TRAVEL DISCOUNTS FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

Alamo Government Leisure Program Amount: Varies by offer. Eligibility: Government or military affiliation. Description: Special government leisure rates available for leisure travel as well as offers like one free rental day with a rental of at least five days (coupon code AF8621ADP) and one car class upgrade (coupon code AU5751ADC).

Budget at Play Amount: Up to 25 percent off leisure rental rates. Eligibility: U.S. government and military employees. Description: Government employee discount applied when Budget Customer Discount V053905 is used while making a leisure reservation.

Best Western U.S. Government / Military Hotel Discount Amount: Contact hotel for exact discount. Eligibility: All federal and state government employees with credentials, military personnel and civilian military personnel, cost reimbursable contractors, and tax funded hospital and university personnel. Description: Eligible employees who have made a reservation online or by phone should present their official identification card or work orders when checking in.

GovArm.com (Government and Armed Forces Travel Cooperative) Amount: Varies by service. Eligibility: Government employees and military personnel, including retirees. Description: Leisure and vacation travel services, including condo rentals, hotel reservations, cruises, car rentals, and vacation packages.

Gov Vacation Rewards Amount: Discounts on over 40 cruise lines and more than 4,000 resort properties. Eligibility: Active duty military personnel and veterans; National Guard and reserve members; federal, state, and local government employees and retirees; and civilian government contractors. Description: Travel discount program specifically designed for government employees, military personnel, and their friends and family.

America the Beautiful National Park Pass Amount: $80 annual pass provided free of charge. Eligibility: U.S. military members and their dependents. Description: The National Park and Federal Recreational Land Pass covers entrance and amenity fees for a driver and all vehicle passengers for more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.

TECHNOLOGY DISCOUNTS FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

Apple Store for Government Amount: Varies by product. Eligibility: Employees of federal, state, and local government agencies, along with military personnel and their families. Description: Desktop and portable computer solutions are available at special prices for government agencies and employees.

Dell Member Purchase Program Amount: Save 2–10 percent on computers, electronics, and accessories. Eligibility: Federal government employees, retirees and their families, military personnel, veterans and their families. Description: Dell provides discounts and best price guarantees for eligible government employees and their families.

Microsoft Home Use Program Amount: Varies by product. Eligibility: Federal government employees. Description: Discounts available for leading software products like Microsoft Office Professional Plus and Microsoft Home & Business for Mac.

How to Jumpstart a Career in Local Government

Beginning a new career can be difficult nowadays. For many recent graduates, the job market has been a challenging place to find a well-paying position with decent benefits. And older, more established workers have recently found themselves changing careers, but the decision of which new career path to pursue and which degree to earn can be daunting and confusing. Individuals in both of these career-starting scenarios can benefit from some flexibility, and the choice to begin a career in local government can offer this.

Local Government Careers Local government has a broad range of positions available for those interested in a career in public service. These positions make up and support all of the resources required to create, maintain, and develop a community: Disaster management and law enforcement keep the community safe; public utilities staff and engineers to build and maintain its infrastructure; city and county planners to shape its growth and expand its resources; city and county officials to establish policy and manage its finances; and departments of recreation, arts, and culture to enrich the community. For those who already have degrees, there is even the possibility of translating past education and experience into one of these specialized public service areas.

Earning a Master of Public Administration For those who are looking to go back to school to earn a degree for a career in local government and public service, the most flexible and applicable degree is a Master of Public Administration (MPA). An MPA will provide the education needed for those seeking management and decision-making positions. It will also offer specializations to focus on whichever aspect of local government you’d like to concentrate in. An MPA degree includes aspects of a wide range of fields, including law, economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and regional planning. An MPA program’s core curriculum consists of courses like public finance, statistics and research, policy process and analysis, public management, ethics, and leadership and public speaking. Areas of focus and concentration reflect a wide array of options and MPA specializations may include urban planning, emergency and disaster management, transportation, health care, economic development, education, information technology, environmental policy, and criminal justice.

Finding Your Career in Local Government Finding a career in local government is less daunting when you consider all of the professional positions available. You can search for positions in local governments by visiting county, city, and township websites or local government job sites like GovtJobs.comGovtJob.net, andStateLocalGov.net External link . — A career in local government is a challenging and rewarding one, as you are given the chance to influence others and see the results of your hard work. There is always a demand for public services, and the benefits and salaries are competitive with similar careers in the private sector. If you are interested in making a difference and helping your community, then a career in public service and local government is what you’re looking for.