Published on June 7, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for public administration in Illinois.

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What is Public Administration?

Illinois is home to a diverse array of public administration agencies and organizations including state departments, municipalities, public schools, and social service agencies. These entities work together to provide essential services to Illinois residents and uphold the principles of good governance. Public administration professionals in Illinois may take on roles including government administration, public policy analysis, budgeting, and financial management, as well as human resources management. They play a vital role in upholding transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct within the public sector.

As of May 2020, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Illinois was home to approximately 53,470 public administration professionals. These roles included government executives, city managers, policy analysts, and public sector managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in public administration in Illinois will experience steady growth over time due to factors like population growth, shifting demographics, and changing policy priorities. This indicates a need for highly skilled public administration professionals in Illinois.

Public administration in Illinois offers a wide range of career opportunities for individuals interested in making a positive impact on society and contributing to the effective functioning of government. Whether you are interested in policy analysis, public finance, or program management, there are numerous pathways to pursue a rewarding career in public administration in Illinois.


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Online Public Administration Education in Illinois

A public administrator is a professional who works in the public sector and is responsible for managing various aspects of government operations. This can include overseeing budgets, implementing policies, and ensuring that government programs are running smoothly and efficiently.

Public administrators can work at the federal, state, or local government management level, and their responsibilities can vary depending on the specific role they have. Some common job titles for public administrators include city manager, county administrator, and government agency director.

In general, public administrators play a crucial role in ensuring that government services are delivered effectively to the public. They work to balance the needs of the community with the resources available, and often have to make tough decisions about how to allocate funds and prioritize projects.

Public administrators also play a key role in implementing policies and programs that have been approved by elected officials. They are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of government agencies and ensuring that they are meeting their objectives and goals.

Online Associate Degree in Public Administration (AS)

An associate degree in public administration provides individuals seeking to enter the dynamic world of public service with a solid foundation in government processes, policy analysis, and organizational management. Students gain knowledge in areas like ethics, budgeting, risk management, and conflict resolution to gain an in-depth perspective of all the challenges and opportunities inherent to public administration and public organizations.

One thing you might look for in an associate degree in public administration is a focus on real-world experience through internships and practical projects. Students gain hands-on practice applying theoretical concepts to actual situations through these real-life opportunities, improving problem-solving abilities and cultivating leadership qualities. Furthermore, due to increased demand for skilled professionals across governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, community development sectors - those holding this degree are well equipped to make meaningful contributions towards societal progress.

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Online Bachelors Degree in Public Administration (BS)

Pursuing a bachelor's degree in public administration offers students a comprehensive understanding of governance, policy-making, and public service. In Illinois, these degrees equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to navigate the complex landscape of government agencies and non-profit organizations. By studying subjects like public finance, strategic planning, and ethical leadership, students are prepared to address contemporary societal challenges effectively.

Moreover, a bachelor's in this field provides a solid foundation for graduates seeking diverse career opportunities in the public sector. From working in local government as city managers or policy analysts to contributing towards community development initiatives, the skills acquired through this program are invaluable. With an emphasis on practical applications and real-world experiences, students gain hands-on experience that prepares them for impactful roles within society. They may also find roles in human resource management, nonprofit management, financial management in public and nonprofit sectors, or public service careers in local government management.

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Online Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS)

Illinois students hoping to advance their public administration careers should consider earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA degree) as they advance. Such an advanced degree equips individuals with essential leadership, policy analysis and strategic planning skills essential for successfully navigating public service complexities. Graduates emerge better prepared to confront societal challenges head-on while driving organizational change effectively while contributing meaningfully toward shaping policies that affect communities across Illinois. And online MPA programs can allow you to earn an advanced degree to find roles in public organizations without leaving your current position.

Earning an MPA from accredited institutions, such as University of Illinois or Northern Illinois University, not only enhances one's knowledge but also broadens one's professional network. Course curriculum often covers areas like nonprofit management, urban governance and environmental policy for a well-rounded education tailored to industry demands. Graduates emerge equipped with skills and connections needed to make significant contributions across sectors from government agencies to non-profit organizations.

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Online PhD Degree in Public Administration (PhD)

Pursuing a PhD in Public Administration or public service opens a realm of possibilities for those aiming to make a meaningful impact on society. These advanced degrees delve deep into the complexities of public policy, urban affairs, metropolitan planning, research methods, fiscal administration, governance, organizational management, nonprofit administration, strategic public management, and even international public management preparing students to become expert leaders in the public sector. With the opportunity to conduct original research and contribute new knowledge to the field, PhD graduates in public administration are equipped with the skills needed to drive positive change at both local and global levels as a program director or government manager.

In today's fast-evolving world, the need for highly qualified professionals in public administration is more crucial than ever. A PhD in this discipline not only provides individuals with specialized expertise but also cultivates critical thinking abilities and analytical skills necessary for addressing complex societal challenges. By engaging with cutting-edge theories and methodologies, doctoral students in public management develop innovative solutions that can shape how governments operate and serve their citizens effectively.

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Online Public Administration Certifications

Public administration certifications offer a unique opportunity for professionals in Illinois to enhance their skills and advance their careers in the public sector. These certifications provide specialized training in areas such as policy analysis, public finance, and organizational management, equipping individuals with the expertise needed to excel in various roles within government agencies and non-profit organizations. By acquiring these certifications, individuals can demonstrate their commitment to continuous learning and professional development, making them more competitive in a rapidly evolving job market.

Public administration certifications provide professionals with an array of career options in the public sector such as government administration, policy analysis, and program management roles. Individuals holding these certifications can tailor their career trajectories based on their interests and strengths while opening numerous doors of advancement and growth in this arena. Furthermore, certification shows dedication to mastering essential skills which employers highly value within public management environments.

Public management certifications serve as valuable credentials for professionals seeking to establish themselves as competent leaders in the field of public service. With Illinois being home to numerous governmental bodies and organizations dedicated to serving its citizens, individuals with these certifications are well-positioned to make meaningful contributions toward improving community outcomes and shaping impactful policies. By investing in further education through certification programs, aspiring public administrators can enhance their knowledge base while demonstrating their commitment to upholding high standards of governance and ethical leadership within the state's vibrant civic landscape.

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Become a Public Administrator in Illinois

Public administrators play a crucial role in managing government organizations and implementing policies that benefit the public. Here are some steps to help you pursue a career as a public administrator in Illinois.

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

    Most entry-level public administration positions require a bachelor's degree in an area related to public management, political science, or public policy - it's therefore vital that prospective candidates select a reputable university or college with an excellent curriculum in public administration.

  • Step 2: Gain Experience

    Experience is crucial in today's highly competitive job market so, to set yourself apart, you must acquire relevant work experience. To do so, you can apply for internships or volunteer opportunities at local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or community groups; this hands-on exposure will give you invaluable public administration knowledge.

  • Step 3: Consider Graduate School

    Although a bachelor's degree may suffice for some entry-level positions, earning a master's in public management or another related field can open many more doors of advancement in your career. Look for accredited programs offering courses in public policy analysis, organizational management, and budgeting.

  • Step 4: Obtain Certification

    Illinois public administrators may find value in attaining certification through professional organizations, such as the Illinois City/County Management Association or American Society for Public Administration. Such certifications demonstrate commitment and can enhance credibility as public administrators.

What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Public Administration?

With a bachelor's in public administration, graduates have a wide range of career paths to pursue. One option is working in government agencies at the local, state, or federal level, where individuals can contribute to public policy and governance. Another avenue is non-profit organizations, where skills in management and decision-making are highly valued. A bachelor's also opens doors to roles in the private sector, such as consulting firms that specialize in government relations and public affairs.

Furthermore, individuals with this degree can find opportunities in human resources departments within various industries, utilizing their knowledge of organizational behavior and leadership. The field of public administration continues to evolve with changing societal needs and advancements in technology, offering graduates exciting prospects for making a positive impact on society through effective planning and implementation strategies. In Illinois specifically, there are numerous governmental bodies and community organizations where professionals with a background in public management can make meaningful contributions to public service initiatives and civic engagement efforts.

Potential Careers for Public Administration Graduates

City Managers

City managers are tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of their city and providing residents with quality delivery of services while implementing policies approved by city council. In essence, they serve as chief executive officers for their local governments' goals and objectives.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in public administration, urban planning, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
  • Previous experience in municipal government or a similar leadership role
  • Strong communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of local government operations, budgeting processes, and regulatory requirements
  • Ability to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders and build positive relationships within the community

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for general and operations managers in the US in 2022 was $122,860
  • The mean annual wage for general and operations managers in Illinois is $124,510

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts are responsible for gathering financial information and creating budget reports for organizations. They review budgets, track spending habits, and identify areas where cost savings could occur. Budget analysts provide organizations with valuable services by helping make informed financial decisions.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a related field
  • Strong analytical skills and attention to detail
  • Proficiency in financial analysis tools and software
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Previous experience in budget analysis or financial planning is preferred

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for budget analysts in the US in 2022 was $82,260
  • The mean annual wage for budget analysts in Illinois is $85,330
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Business Analysts

A business analyst is responsible for analyzing business processes, identifying areas for improvement, and recommending solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness within an organization. They work closely with stakeholders from various departments to gather and analyze data, create reports, and provide insights that drive strategic decision-making.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in business administration, finance, or a related field
  • Proven experience as a business analyst or a similar role
  • Strong analytical skills with the ability to interpret complex data sets
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Proficiency in data analysis tools and techniques
  • Knowledge of business process modeling and improvement methodologies
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Certification in Business Analysis (e.g., CBAP) is a plus

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for management analysts in the US in 2022 was $95,290
  • The mean annual wage for management analysts in Illinois is $116,650
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Administrative Specialists

Administrative specialists will be charged with providing administrative support to various departments within an organization. Their tasks may include overseeing office tasks, organizing files and handling correspondence for different departments, as well as helping with day-to-day operations.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Proven experience as an administrative assistant or a similar role
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook)
  • Attention to detail and ability to multitask effectively
  • High school diploma or equivalent; additional qualifications in Office Administration are a plus

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants in the US in 2022 was $44,080
  • The mean annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants in Illinois is $46,540

Non-Profit General Managers

Non-profit general managers are unsung heroes of the charitable sector, leading organizations with passion and purpose. Their role extends far beyond typical management responsibilities; they must navigate complex challenges while upholding the organization's mission in an ever-evolving landscape. These individuals possess both business acumen and compassion to bring impactful change within their communities.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in non-profit management, business administration, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
  • Proven experience in non-profit management or a leadership role within a similar organization
  • Strong understanding of non-profit governance, fundraising strategies, and program development
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse stakeholders and inspire a shared vision for the organization's success

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for social and community service managers in the US in 2022 was $74,240
  • The mean annual wage for social and community service managers in Illinois is $76,340

Education Administrator

An education administrator is accountable for overseeing and supervising all administrative operations within an educational institution or department, such as overseeing policies and procedures that ensure smooth operations of programs and services offered by schools or departments.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in education, administration, or a related field
  • Previous experience in education administration or a similar role
  • Knowledge of education regulations and accreditation standards
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • Ability to work effectively in a fast-paced environment
  • Proficiency in computer applications such as Microsoft Office suite

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for education administrators from kindergarten through secondary schools in the US in 2022 was $106,690, while those in postsecondary institutions earned $115,180
  • The mean annual wage for education administrators from kindergarten through secondary schools in Illinois is $106,230, while those in postsecondary institutions earn $92,540

Chief Operating Officer

A chief operating officer (COO) is an essential executive position, charged with overseeing daily operations of their organization and working alongside senior management to develop and execute plans designed to promote expansion while still preserving operational efficiencies.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Proven experience in a senior leadership role, preferably as a COO or equivalent
  • Strong strategic planning and decision-making skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Ability to lead and motivate teams to achieve objectives
  • In-depth knowledge of business operations, financial management, and performance analysis
  • Bachelor's or master's degree in business administration or related field (MBA preferred)

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for chief executives in the US in 2022 was $100,090
  • The mean annual wage for chief executives in Illinois is $268,560

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