MPA Careers in the Private Sector

A passion for public administration can lead to a wide variety of pathways, including the private sector. Today’s modern private corporations need key MPA skills such as leadership, an analytical mindset and strong communication skills to help create innovative solutions and to better grapple with global conversations at a business level. That’s why MPA graduates are well-positioned to apply public interest in the private sector

Can an MPA Help Me Enter the Private Sector?

Though an MPA degree may not seem like the first choice for a private sector career compared to other professional degrees, these graduates can be particularly qualified for private institutions that serve public sector organizations, such as pharmaceuticals, law firms or government contracting.

In addition to these organizations, an MPA can be useful as consumer interest grows in social missions, ethics and transparency. Many modern private organizations are blending for-profit business models with public service ideals, making MPA graduates a great fit. Like any sector, the private sector faces rises and dips, but in recent years, it has seen substantial growth. In fact, in 2016 the U.S. private sector saw the longest job creation streak in U.S. history (NPR.org), which means that MPA graduates entering this sector have more opportunities than ever.

What Private Sector Roles Can I Pursue with an MPA?

Private sector careers are broad and can range from consulting to executive positions. The private sector is so extensive, with nearly 250,000 jobs added in just one month in 2017, that it’s difficult to calculate the number of MPA graduates working in the field. However, approximately 16% of 2014 USC MPA graduates work with consulting firms, leveraging their passion for public service into a private sector role (2014 Master of Public Administration Employment Profile).

As an MPA holder, your options in the private sector are varied. Some of the roles you can pursue include:

Top Executive
Salary: $120,690 | Growth: 6%

Top executives work in nearly every sector and in a variety of departments. These executives are tasked with leading organizations by creating strategy, designing policy and coordinating staff usage to meet organizational goals. Top executives can include chief executive officers (CEOs), chief operating officers (COOs), or even mayors or city managers in the public sector.

The top executive role is growing about as fast as the average occupation in the U.S. Despite 146,000 new jobs projected to be added from 2014 to 2024, top executives should expect to face tough competition for these roles. With the average top executive earning $102,690, and the top 10% earning more than $187,200 per year, it’s clear to see why many professionals seek top executive roles (BLS).

Human Resources Manager
Salary: $104,440 | Growth: 9%

Most organizations need a human resources department, and every human resources department needs a leader. That’s where human resources managers enter. These officials are in charge of planning, directing and coordinating administrative functions, recruiting and hiring, and strategic planning.

Human resources manager roles are expected to grow 9% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). According to the BLS, candidates with a master’s degree should have the best job prospects. Professionals who enter human resources departments in a leadership position can expect fair compensation. The average human resources manager earns approximately $104,440 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $187,200.

Management Analyst
Salary: $104,440 | Growth: 9%

Another word for consultant, management analysts work with companies or firms to improve organizational efficiency and profitability. They gather information and analyze strategies to solve issues or seize opportunities. This could include financial data, personnel interviews or on-site observation.

The average management analyst earns $81,320 per year, while the top 10% earn more than $150,220 (BLS). Management analyst salaries depend on sector; federal government analysts on average earn $88,020. Along with a great salary, management analysts also benefit from a strong job market. These roles are projected to grow 14% between 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average occupation and will account for approximately 103,400 new roles in that time period.

Our MPA in Action

Many of our alumni work in private sector settings, including Deloitte, GoPro and Booz Allen Hamilton. USC online MPA 2015 graduate Tayo Adeyefa works in strategy and operations for Deloitte and believes earning his MPA has allowed him to bring his passion into the private sector.

“Consulting firms have case interviews, and they walk you through these elaborate cases where you have to solve a client problem. Because I had just walked out of my capstone, which was essentially a consulting project, I was able to take the lead in the [interview]. It was really helpful to know how to walk through a problem and to identify methodologies and criteria.”
— Tayo Adeyefa, 2015 USC MPA Graduate

To read more about Tayo Adeyefa and other alumni, visit our student testimonials page now.