Political science majors prepare students for a variety of career fields. You learn about the systems, structures, and institutions of politics and the public from both domestic and international lenses. Coupling this extensive knowledge with transferable skills means that many political science majors do not want to continue to the doctorate level of study and become political science professors. The costs and time commitment are too high for many students. Instead, students can funnel their passions into making a real-world difference with these alternative political science careers.

1. Research Assistant

Salary Range: Research assistants in the social sciences make between $31,000 a year up to about $81,000, with a median of $49,000.

You can use your analytical skills from your political science major to be a research assistant. This job entails gathering data, compiling research articles, setting up human-subject research, and managing data. You could work for a think tank, a university, a nonprofit, or a government office. The flexibility in hiring allows you to apply transferrable skills from your degree and the knowledge from your field concentration to your job. You can find plenty of job growth in this role, with a projected 8 percent growth rate.

Transferable Skills:

  • Problem solving skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Analysis skills
  • Policy knowledge

2. Lobbyist

Salary Range: The salary for a lobbyist varies widely depending on the employer, but it can range from $56,000 to over $200,000.

Put those relationship-building skills and policy knowledge to use as a lobbyist. This career has many different titles: government relations specialist, public relations manager, political affairs officer, and more. All roles focus on building relationships with lawmakers and presenting positions on behalf of special interests. Lobbyists represent the interests of entities ranging from cancer patients or seniors to businesses and financial firms. This allows you to integrate your policy interests too.

Transferable Skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Political and governmental knowledge
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Critical thinking skills

3. Data Scientist

Salary Range: Data scientists can earn between $52,000 and $165,000 per year, with a median of $98,000.

Data scientists collect, manage, model, and analyze data for organizations in the private and public sectors. Using your quantitative methods knowledge from your political science major and technical knowledge, you manipulate data and write reports. Some data scientists conduct public-opinion polling, focus groups, or social science experiments. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects the demand for this job to remain high, with a 22 percent growth rate.

Transferable Skills:

  • SPSS, Stata, R, or Python expertise
  • Statistical knowledge
  • Analysis skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Quantitative methods

4. Media Producer

Salary Range: The salary range for a producer was between approximately $36,000 and over $184,000, with a median of $76,000.

Producers for television, radio, online content, and podcast programs develop, write, research, and package stories for on-air talent. You need to keep your ear to the ground for new and interesting story ideas, ask questions to find what you need, and work with others to produce a story. You can use your political knowledge and communication skills to create media packages for shows that appeal to your interests, such as news programs. There is no stopping this career with a highly-projected 24 percent growth rate.

Transferable Skills:

  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Creative design skills
  • Editing and writing skills

5. Nonprofit Development Manager

Salary Range: Nonprofit development managers make between approximately $41,000 and $70,000 a year, with a median of $54,000.

As a nonprofit development manager, you can use your knowledge of cultures and interest in a policy to help fund nonprofits. Development managers create fundraising plans, organize fundraising events, determine financial goals, reach out to prospective donors, and apply for grants. You need to be able to speak directly to a wide variety of people about topics that some find sensitive. A connection with the mission of the nonprofit is typically a requirement as well. This demand for this role only increases, with a projected 16 percent growth rate.

Transferable Skills:

  • Organizational skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Self-starter

6. Speechwriter

Salary Range: The salary range for a speech writer is from approximately $74,000 to $142,000, with a median of about $85,000.

Put your political communications skills to use with a career in speech writing. Political candidates, elected officials, CEOs, and industry leaders need speechwriters to craft moving prose. With your knowledge of writing, communication, and political framing, you could use your skills to create speeches for a variety of people and occasions. You can even do this work as a freelancer for more flexibility. Speechwriters need to understand formulae for crafting speeches, public opinion, and policy to create moving speeches.

Transferable Skills:

  • Writing and editing skills
  • Communication skills
  • Time management

7. Investigator

Salary Range: The salary range for an investigator is from $31,000 to over $96,000, with a median of more than $53,000.

Use your critical analysis and research skills to use as an investigator. Investigators work for private companies or independently to search for and verify the information. You may go through court documents, financial records, and information available through online research. Some investigators need to conduct interviews as well. Investigators need to have a thorough understanding of the law, an excellent incentive for political science majors. The projected job growth rate for this position is higher than the average, with 13 percent.

Transferable Skills:

  • Critical analysis skills
  • Research skills
  • Communication skills
  • Informational retrieval software

8. Travel Writer

Salary Range: The salary range for writers and authors is between about $35,000 to over $133,000, with a median of approximately $67,000.

With the writing and historical and cultural knowledge political science majors have, a career as a travel writer is an adventurous option. These writers typically work as freelancers, giving you lots of independence. Travel to different locations and write compelling and informative reviews and guides of your experiences. Get perks to offset the costs of your travel, such as free or deeply discounted stays at hotels or free entry into events. A passion for international relations can translate into a passion for writing about your favorite places.

Transferable Skills:

  • International relations knowledge
  • Writing skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills

9. Training Facilitator

Salary Range: The salary range for training facilitators runs from under $34,000 to more than $107,000, with a median of over $62,000.

You can leverage teaching and public speaking skills from your political science major into a career as a training facilitator. You could train participants on company onboarding, leadership skills, unconscious bias, or anything that allows you to incorporate your interests into your training. As a trainer, you assess an organization’s needs, develop training materials, create interactive programs, deliver training, and survey the training outcomes. Depending on the position, you may also need to set up your appointments. A career as a training facilitator has a growth rate of 11 percent.

Transferable Skills:

  • Active listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teaching skills

10. Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Salary Range: Diversity and inclusion officers earn a salary range from $19,000 to $173,000, with a median of $74,000. The differences largely stem from part-time versus full-time and the industry and seniority.

As a political science major, you have a keen understanding of the diversity of people and cultures. Leverage that knowledge with your transferable skills in a career as a diversity and inclusion officer. In this role, you assess an organization’s approach to diversity in hiring practices, promotions, and evaluations. You create programs and reports to identify issues within the organization and suggest improvements. Many employers hire for this position, including governments, financial companies, and universities.

Transferable Skills:

  • Cultural and social knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Analysis skills

11. Legislative Assistant

Salary Range: The salary range for legislative assistants goes from just over $20,000 to $81,000, with a median of just under $52,000.

As a legislative assistant, you combine your knowledge of government and politics with your skills in an organization to help lawmakers do their jobs. Local, state, and federal lawmakers use legislative assistants for a variety of tasks. As part of your job, you handle constituent requests, research policy, schedule meetings, write speeches, vote tallying, and organize committee meetings. A career as a legislative assistant puts you in the heart of politics and policymaking. These positions are always in demand and a necessary component of making any legislative office work.

Transferable Skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Organization skills
  • Communication skills
  • Networking skills

12. App Developer

Salary Range: As an app developer, you could make between $65,000 and $170,000, with a median of approximately $110,000.

Depending on your electives and your program’s emphasis on new technologies with politics, you could use your degree to be an app developer. While this position does take some programming skills, you can hone your skills through your electives or private programs. Take concepts from your political science degree to create apps for political interests, such as an app that shows maps of gerrymandered districts or an app that makes it easier to contact politicians. Building data products is a high-growth career choice, with a 22 percent projected growth rate.

Transferable Skills:

  • Programming skills
  • Data analysis skills
  • Quantitative methods
  • Political knowledge
  • Collaboration skills

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the job options for retired political scientists?

Retired political scientists typically have advanced degrees and a lot of work experience, which opens the doors for many possible career transitions. Put your knowledge to use as a political consultant, journalist, or mentor of recent political science graduates. You could also volunteer your expertise for nonprofits, especially as an advocate. You could even write books on your special political interests.

What jobs can you get while studying political science?

The type of job you can get while still in school for political science depends a lot on the skills you already have. Many political science students work as assistants in law firms, performing administrative duties and projects. Work on a political campaign as a fellow or field organizer. You could apply your focus on international relations to work as a docent at a museum.

What are some remote political science jobs?

If you want to work remotely, a political science background can set you up with plenty of options. Campaign workers often work remotely from a particular district. Political science tutors can offer work online. Writers, including many journalists, often work from home, and you can use your political knowledge in your writing. You can also freelance as a policy writer.

What are the highest paying jobs in political science?

The highest paying jobs in political science require valuable communication and analysis skills in addition to your education. A job as a lobbyist for a top special interest group can pay over $200,000 a year. In a career as a research director at a think tank, you can make more than $100,00 per year. Political consultants can offer their expertise and make almost $140,000.

Final Thoughts

Alternative Careers for Political Science Majors
Learn more about the Alternative Careers for Political Science Majors

With all of the alternative political science careers outside of academia, there is no need to follow a traditional path if you want to do something different. Not only can you make even more money outside of academia, but you can also have an immediate impact on politics. Use your network and get alumni lists from your university’s career office to conduct informational interviews and narrow your search. Think outside the box for the skills you learn while studying for your degree to find a career that you truly enjoy.

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