Government Groundwork: How to Get Started in a State Job

By Brooke Chaplan, Special for  USDR

For those who have an interest and passion in government, public administration, and public policy, you should definitely consider a career working for your state government. Believe it or not, state governments are often very large and formidable employers that provide opportunities for individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds. Whether you are looking to get into law enforcement, public health, education, finance, accounting, or information technology, there is definitely a state government job for your particular background. Here is a comprehensive overview of how to get started in a state  job.

One of the first things you must consider when looking for a job in state government is your educational background. At the very minimum you should at least have a high school diploma. However, only having a high school diploma or some college credits will only allow you to land basic administrative assistant positions within the state. While often these secretarial roles can pay higher than your typical desk assistant or secretary in a corporate office setting, these roles often do not lead to any promotions or advancement within a particular state administrative agency. If you are looking for more of a managerial or analytical role, at the very minimum, you should strive for at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. It really doesn’t matter necessarily what you major in, however, if you are serious about having a leadership role within state government, it is recommended to study a field like political science bachelors, sociology degrees, public policy masters programs or public administration studies. These fields of study will give you an in-depth understanding of how government works, how rules are created or adjudicated and how policies are made that ultimately have an impact on  society.

Public Policy Jobs Within State Government
For those looking for more of a public policy-oriented career within state government, the first thing you should do to prepare for such a career is to get a more advanced degree in public policy. Obtaining a master’s degree or a phD in public policy will give you a more in-depth, analytical, and pervasive understanding of how different government agencies, legislative bodies, advocacy groups and other policy-making vehicles collaborate together to create public policies. Getting a master’s degree will also allow you specialize in a particular field of public policy. Typically public policy concentrations include education, healthcare, economic development, community development and government finance or  budgeting.

Salary Expectations for State Government Jobs 
State government job salaries are going to depend on experience, education, size of government agency and location. For most entry-level and mid-level public policy and administrative positions, the typical starting salaries are usually anywhere between $35,000, to as high as $60,000. With more years of experience, education and job responsibilities, salaries can easily go up to over $75,000 or more each  year!

There are so many routes you can take in order to land a job within state government. Just stay persistent with your job search, earn the right education credentials and constantly  network.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.