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Top Skills for Public Administration Workers

If you’re a young professional with some experience in the public administration field, thinking about continuing your education, you may wonder if your skill set matches the needs of employers as you seek to rise in the ranks of public administration.

The good news is that many of the skills required can be learned or sharpened in an online Master of Public Administration degree program.

Top Skills Identified

A Burning Glass Technologies list of specialized skills in the public administration field places the following in the top five:

  1. Public administration
  2. Budgeting
  3. Business administration
  4. Staff management
  5. Project management

Public health and safety, scheduling, strategic planning, accounting and supervisory skills round out the top 10 skills employers need.

In terms of basic skills, you should be proficient in several areas, including:

  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Teamwork/collaboration

Employers are also looking for the ability to build effective relationships, organizational skills, problem-solving and proficiency in Microsoft Office.

To promote staff to executive positions in the public administration field, employers are also looking for several skills sets, including:

  • Policy analysis
  • Budget management
  • Business management
  • People management
  • Project management

Other Critical Needs

The Bright Network identifies other top qualities to help you advance in the public administration field. They include:

  1. Creativity and flexible thinking. Employers said the ability to adapt to change and creatively solve problems is key to success.
  2. Ability to make decisions. Not only must you come up with solutions to thorny problems, you must have the ability to make tough decisions under pressure.
  3. Teamworking skills. You must have the ability to motivate and work with a team of people with very different qualities.
  4. Enthusiasm and commitment. To thrive in a public administration job, you must have an interest in policy and politics. The debate changes every day, and you must stay on top of it.
  5. Confidence and drive. Different personalities, aptitudes and attitudes are hallmarks of those who work in public administration, and you must have the confidence and drive to establish and defend your priorities.

Do You Have What It Takes?

As you consider pursuing an online MPA degree, you may be asking yourself, what qualities does a highly effective MPA candidate possess? has some answers:

  1. Academic achievement. Previous academic achievement may determine if you have what it takes to endure the rigorous requirements of an online MPA program.
  2. Previous leadership roles. Leadership plays a huge role in most public administration careers. Past experience in leadership, from heading a class project to running for an office on the student council can help determine if you are bound for success.
  3. Good people skills. A great candidate for an MPA can effectively deal with people because a large part of any public administration job involves interacting with, managing and leading groups of people.
  4. Community involvement. Passion for working in community programs may show an aptitude for public administration work.

A career in public administration requires mastery of multiple disciplines. That’s why effective MPA degree programs are a combination of several academic areas.

MPA programs focus on skills such as devising and implementing policy, managing people and programs, and developing both short-term and long-term plans, while exposing students to a wide range of economic, legal and social issues inherent in the field.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online MPA program.


Bright Network: Top Skills and Qualities You Need for the Public Sector 5 Qualifications of a Highly Effective MPA Candidate

Burning Glass Technologies report: February 2019


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