MPA Careers in the Nonprofit Sector

No matter the mission, at the core of every nonprofit organization is a common thread of service. Nonprofits like the Red Cross, Teach for America, Amnesty International and United Way are among the most recognized, but there are more than 1.41 million nonprofits in the United States alone (The Nonprofit Sector in Brief, 2015). Each of these organizations needs professionals with leadership, passion and a strong foundation in public administration to produce tangible solutions and create a positive impact on communities.

Can an MPA Help Me Enter the Nonprofit Field?

Leadership and vision are required in every sector of public administration, but nonprofit management has its own challenges. The USC Master of Public Administration online program directly addresses specialized nonprofit issues and concerns in the Nonprofit Management concentration and prepares you to enter the nonprofit field with confidence and expertise. What can you learn with our online MPA and nonprofit specialization?

  • Interacting with boards and intersectoral stakeholders
  • Fundraising and marketing
  • Volunteer and human resource management

What Roles Can I Pursue with an MPA?

The nonprofit sector has grown by 20% over the past decade, a stark contrast to the 2-3% growth found in the for-profit sector (PNP Nonprofit Salaries & Staffing Report). With a steady growth rate even in times of recession, nonprofit professionals, especially those in health and education, have a competitive edge in the job market. That’s why transitions from the for-profit sector to nonprofit organizations are increasing (PNP Nonprofit Salaries & Staffing Report).

The nonprofit sector is the third-largest workforce segment in the United States, representing nearly 10% of the total workforce. Some of the nonprofit roles you can pursue include:

Social and Community Service Manager
Salary: $63,530 | Growth: 10%

Social and community service managers are responsible for the coordination and supervision of social services or community organizations. By working with community members and other stakeholders, these professionals are able to create or maintain effective and positive social initiatives. This may include writing proposals, analyzing data or overseeing day-to-day administrative duties.

With the projected growth rate for the average occupation at 7%, social and community service managers are expected to see steady, faster than average growth at 10% from 2014 to 2024 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). That means approximately 13,200 new roles will be added between that time. The average social and community service manager can expect to earn $63,530, though the top 10% earn more than $108,960 per year (BLS).

Fundraising Manager
Salary: $104,140 | Growth: 7%

An integral part of the nonprofit world is fundraising, which is why fundraising managers are needed to coordinate the campaigns that attract donors to their organization. To do so, fundraising managers may be tasked with identifying and contacting potential donors, creating and executing events, applying for grants and supervising staff.

For their essential role, fundraising managers earn a median salary of $104,140. The top 10% of fundraising managers earn more than $187,200 per year.

These roles are projected to grow 7% from 2014 to 2024, which means even more opportunities for you (BLS).

Public Administration Post-Secondary Educator
Salary: $72,470 | Growth: 13%

Public administration professionals who seek to pass on their expertise to a new generation may find their calling as a public administration post-secondary educator. At a master’s level, you may be hired as a part-time educator, but to pursue a tenured position, you should be prepared to earn a doctorate degree.
While there are no available job statistics for this specific role, professor roles across every subject are projected to grow 13% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average occupation (BLS). Professionals in these roles earn a median salary of $72,470, with the top 10% earning more than $154,190 per year. Salary for post-secondary educators is highly dependent on location, experience, education level and prestige of the employing institution.

Health Services Manager
Salary: $94,500 | Growth: 17%

If you’re interested in both health care and public administration, a role as a health services manager might be ideal for you. Health services managers are charged with planning, directing and coordinating medical and health services for an entire health facility, clinic or department. To be a successful health services manager, you must be informed on the newest health care laws, regulations and technology.

With a projected job growth of 17%, health services manager roles are expected to add 56,300 new jobs from 2014 to 2024 (BLS). Many of these jobs will be in offices in health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes or medical practices. In 2015, the median wage for these managers was $94,500, with the top 10% earning more than $165,380.

Our MPA in Action

Our online MPA students and graduates have access to a wealth of resources, including research centers like the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy. And with Price alumni in just about every major U.S. metropolitan area and internationally, MPA graduates can find support for their efforts nearly everywhere they look.

Some of our alumni have gone on to work for major nonprofit organizations, such as United Way and the Clinton Foundation. USC online MPA 2015 graduate and adjunct professor Jessica Ureña works with the Museum of Latin American Art as the director of donor relations and believes that her MPA will be an asset and will help open new opportunities in the nonprofit field.

“I think ultimately in terms of career trajectory I would like to be an executive director of a nonprofit. I think that the MPA program definitely gives you the skills to be able to move forward in that trajectory.”
— Jessica Ureña, USC MPA Graduate

To read more about Jessica Ureña and other alumni, visit our student testimonials page now.