Political Scientists: Salary Overview
Political scientists study political systems and research political ideas in order to analyze governments, policies, political trends, and related issues.
Their job description typically includes researching political subjects, developing and testing political theories, collecting and analyzing data obtained from surveys and other sources, evaluating the effects of policies and laws on people, government, and businesses, and giving presentations and publishing articles that summarize their findings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage reported by workers in this profession was $122,200 in May of 2019 which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on the level of education, experience, skills, and the industry and region of employment, among other factors.
The bottom 10 percent of all political scientists made less than $60,960 per year, while the top 10 percent made more than $164,210.
The 25th percentile for this profession was $87,990 as of May 2019 which means that 75 percent of them made more than this amount.
Political Scientist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics political scientists held 7,000 jobs in the United States in 2019, most of them working for the federal government or in the field of professional, scientific, and technical services.
The average annual wage reported by political scientists who worked for the federal government was $127,500- more than the median across all industries.
The wages reported by political scientists in scientific research and development services averaged at $128,720.
Political scientists who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools made $89,230 per year on average while those who were employed by social advocacy organizations made $90,280 per year on average.
The average annual wage reported by political scientists who worked for local governments was $98,500 as of May 2019.
According to BLS, the highest-paying field for this profession was the industry of advertising, public relations, and related services- where workers in this profession were remunerated, on average, with $134,760 per year.
Experience and educational level are also important factors in determining a political scientist’s salary.
In order to become a political scientist, you will typically need a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in public administration, public policy, public affairs, or a related field.
Those who have only a bachelor’s degree may qualify for positions in related fields, such as assistants or research assistants for political campaigns, research organizations, or nonprofits.
Completing an internship or volunteering for a political organization during college can help you start a career in this field.
Along with a fixed salary, some political scientists also earn bonuses that can supplement their earnings with up to $16,000 per year, according to a report published by payscale in 2020.
The bonuses reported by political scientists averaged at $4,943, says the same report.
Payscale reports that the majority of political scientists (69 percent) received medical insurance and more than half of them also received dental benefits.
Earnings are also influenced by the political scientist’s level of skills and those who have good communication skills and are able to write discourses that both inform and persuade the public may earn more than the rest.
Job opportunities are looking good in the future for political scientists.
Employment for this profession is projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average across all occupations.
This is explained, in part, by the fact that there is an increased demand for public policy analysis in government and non-government organizations.
Your job prospects as a new graduate will also depend on your skills, education, and region of employment.
Employers may prefer candidates who have an advanced degree and strong writing and analytical skills.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Political Scientists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.