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Political Science Majors Don't Have To Be Lawyers: A Look at Other Careers

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 9/23/2010

Taking up political science as major field of concentration in college education is traditionally perceived as preparatory to attending law school. However, it may interest you to know the other high-paying career options for people with this type of background.

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    Why Major in Poli-Sci?

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    After learning about the local and global political systems whilst comparing the policies and politics of every nation, what career options for political science majors could graduates embark on?

    Traditionally, most political science students will proceed to law schools and become defenders or prosecutors or evolve into different kinds of specialized law practitioners.

    But what about those graduates in political science who don’t proceed to law schools? What other career options await them that they take up political science as their main studies?

    One of the options considered aside from pursuing a cost-intensive law degree is to use their knowledge about governance to attain illustrious careers in politics. However, they have to be achievers and become highly visible by finding relevant occupations that could serve as stepping stones to reach their political ambitions.

    Let’s find out about some of them:

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    Paralegal or Legal Assistant

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    Paralegals or legal assistants usually work in law offices as part of a lawyer’s support team. As legal assistants, they are often immersed in research work and verification of facts.

    They seek for related past cases, statutory laws and Supreme Court decisions that could uphold their defense or negate their opponent’s. In fact, a paralegal or legal assistant does most of the legwork in building a counselor’s case or defense by looking for facts and evidences.

    • This career could elevate into a Senior Paralegal position but will depend on the size of the company. Those who found work in less active law firms could find themselves doing most of the administrative functions of the office. Hence, they tend to seek for corporate work environments, which would allow them to pursue other career options for political science majors.

    • The annual median salary for paralegals or legal assistants ranges from $30,041 to $ 46,930, including bonuses and profit shares.
    • They can also find work in government or public law offices, real estate agencies and financial services companies.
    • Currently, among the top hirers are the U.S. Army and Office of the Attorney General.

    The following U.S. cities are popular for having the highest paid paralegal or legal assistant’s job:

    1. San Jose, CA - $ 55,859 to $ 66,467
    2. Santa Clara, CA - $ 43,139 to $ 75,394
    3. Irvine, CA - $ 44,219 to $ 64,503
    4. Walnut Creek, CA - $ 35,976 to $ 68,784
    5. Troy, Michigan - $ 30,837 to $ 58,958

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    Intelligence Analysts

    800px-Sense-making loop for analysts 

    An intelligence analyst’s job is to gather data about elements considered as threat to the nation’s security and therefore identified as enemies of the state. These elements could be anything from a power-hungry leader to suspected terrorist factions.

    As analysts, they make careful evaluations about the enemy’s capabilities to launch attacks and monitor the trends of their activities.

    Based on this, the intelligence analyst’s reports will initiate the formulation of strategies and tactical plans, making him primarily responsible for coordinating, supervising and mobilizing military resources to strengthen the country’s defense and readiness.

    • The U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy are among the top hirers of intelligence analysts. Although private industries engaged in the manufacture of surveillance and reconnaissance products and other government contractors like the Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) and Booz, Allen and Hamilton are noted as among the top employers for this type of job.
    • As government employees, holders of this position have likely potentials to become managers of government programs, or move on to jobs found in high-paying corporations like IT companies as Security Consultants.
    • Intelligence analysts earn median salaries ranging from $50,515 to $ 85,789 including bonuses and profit shares. To find work in industries with the highest salary offers for this dynamic career, seekers should look for them in the following U.S. cities:
    1. Crystal City, VA - $ 78,617 to $ 108,697
    2. Quantico, VA - $ 68,784 to $ 109,394
    3. Stafford, VA - $ 78,611 to $ 106,823
    4. Columbia, Maryland - $ 43,796 to $ 93,122
    5. Falls Church, VA - $ 69,245 to $ 104,811

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    Discover that there are other career options for political science majors that you haven't heard of and they rank among the top paying corporate careers. Become a well-rounded political science major and use your knowledge to develop ideas in formulating policies or securing your company's position --- when new laws that could impact the industry are being legislated. Learn more by reading on...
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    Policy Analyst

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    A policy analyst in a private industry is hired to analyze and interpret governing policies that may impact the manufacture of highly sensitive line of products, like weapons, chemicals, drugs, nuclear power or the rendering of services related to credit, banking or financial services. Knowledge of federal and state laws is essential to ensure that the company the policy analyst works for, is operating within the regulatory policies and procedures.

    Excellence in both oral and written communication skills are necessary since the policy analyst will communicate the necessary internal policies that need to be adhered to in all levels, to ensure that business operations meet all requirements. There will be instances when regulatory inspections or audits will take place to check on the adequacy or inadequacies of their compliance. Proper analysis and solid thinking are involved in order to formulate standards and regulations within the company as self-checking measures.

    However, if the policy analyst will find work in regulatory government bodies, this person's task is to provide inputs in formulating policies necessary to ensure that public safety and the nation’s security are kept intact and in place.

    • Government units, particularly the Government Accountability Office and the US Internal Revenue Services lead the pack of popular employers for this position.
    • Government contractors are likewise in the lead as exemplified by companies like SAIC and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Their services are likewise invaluable to environmental research organizations as well as in consultancy firms and in the academic world.
    • As policy analysts, they can expect salaries that could range or go above $ 40,181 to $ 65,397 including bonuses. This career can elevate to higher ranking positions as Senior Policy Analyst, Public Policy analysts and eventually Director- Public Policy.

    The following US cities are the likeliest places where they could land high paying jobs in topnotch industries in the area:

    1. San Francisco, CA - $ 36,200 to $ 72,200
    2. Washington, DC - $ 42,087 to $ 74,026
    3. Los Angeles, CA - $ 36,000 to $ 75,000
    4. Seattle, WA - $ 39,305 to $ 70,000
    5. New York, NY - $ 45,379 to $ 68,407

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    Manager- Government Affairs

    Bonn, Empfang Präsident des Deutschen Handwerks (Bonn, received President of the German Trade) 

    Private companies hire a Government Affairs Manager as their representative in informing elected officials in both state and local levels on how certain policies being proposed or studied will impact the company’s industry, whether positively or negatively. The person who assumes the responsibilities of Government Affairs Manager is expected to come up with newsletters, or publish white papers as well as provide the company with the latest legislative issues.

    There will be a need to develop sound relationships with industry partners and government offices as well, in order to communicate the company’s concerns and perhaps dissuade or convince them about negative effects that could place the industry at a disadvantage. Such instances could result to economic loss that could bring about further unemployment.

    • Industries where the position of Manager-government Affairs is highly relevant are those engaged in Health Care Services, Trade Association or Unions, Energy & Utility companies, Membership Advocacy Organizations as well as the government to act as the counterpart representative.
    • As one of the career options for political science majors, impressive performers in this kind of managerial occupation will open doors for future advancements as VP – Government Affairs, Government Affairs- Director or Regulatory Affairs, Director.
    • Managers- Government Affairs can expect average annual salaries that range from $ 53, 683 to $ 98,748 comprised of salaries, bonuses and profit shares.

    You can find the top paying companies who employ this kind of profession in the following US cities:

    1. Denver, CO - $ 78,611 to $ 111,910
    2. Los Angeles, CA - $ 84,998 to $ 101,946
    3. Washington, DC - $ 56,882 to $ 102,900

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    Discovering these different career options for political science majors will enlighten college students that there are other, more rewarding careers to explore aside from careers as future lawyers. In all endeavors however, enhancing your knowledge, expertise and natural aptitude with additional certificates and master’s or doctorate degrees will give you not only the credentials but also the first-rate skills to stay at the top.

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    Reference Materials and Image Credit Section

    Reference Materials:

    • Popular Jobs for Political Science Majors ---

    Image Credits:

    • All images are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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