What Does a Public Administrator Do?

Many people are not clear about the difference between those practicing with a business administration degree and those who have studied public administration. The difference is quite simple. While business administration is largely about growing the bottom line, public administration is about improving security, justice, effectiveness, and other factors pertaining to services provided by the government to the public.

Someone wishing to work in the private sector could also benefit from studying public administration.

People who choose a career in public administration are those who would like to be able to make a difference in their community, and help to improve the quality of life of everyone in that community.

A general description of what a public administrator does is to develop policy and then implement and oversee those policies with the goal of improving the public agencies and the services offered. But that broad description does not adequately cover all public administrators. There are a variety of tasks that may be completed by a public administrator, and they can be found in every level of government. Here are a just a couple of examples of what a public administrator may do.

  • Parole Officer: This is an example of what a public administrator who deals daily with the public may do. Parole officers deal directly with those who have been released from prison, but still are under the discretion of the court. The parole officer works closely with the offenders to ensure that they are following court orders and also to ensure that they have acceptable housing and employment. A good parole officer can make a big difference in the lives of ex-offenders who now wish to improve their lives.
  • Policy Analyst: A policy analyst will evaluate existing problems or policies. After spending time evaluating the problem or policy, an analyst may then develop a new or revised policy aimed at correcting the problem. If it is a policy being evaluated, the analyst may suggest a new policy to take its place. In either case, once the new policy was in place, it too would be evaluated to ensure that it was either correcting the problem or otherwise having the desired effect. New policies would continue to be monitored by the analyst for quite some time to ensure that they were effective in meeting all of the goals.

Public administrators may also act as auditors, border guards, or may work for government agencies in public relations, research and development, or human resources.

As you can see, there are a variety of options available to those who pursue a degree in public administration. Recent changes in the field have made the choices even broader. At one time, public administrators worked strictly within local, state, and federal government. In recent years, however, this has changed. Many public administrators now bring their expertise to the non-profit sector where they work to improve the services offered in much the same way as they would if working for a government agency. This means that someone wishing to work in the private sector could also benefit from studying public administration.

Public administration is one of those careers in which those that choose it can actually make a profound difference in the world around them. They have the opportunity to locate flaws and shortcomings in public policy and then have the tools and ability to work toward change.

Public administrators care more about people than about the bottom line, and the work they do can improve the lives of many.