A Guide to Being a Public Administration Consultant

public administration consultant standing with client and reviewing information
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Some public administration professionals decide to leverage their knowledge and experience into a career as a consultant. Rather than working in a salaried position for a government agency or nonprofit organization, public administration consultants bring their expertise to one or multiple clients on a temporary or contract basis, then move on to the next project.

Working as a consultant allows you to choose which organizations you work with and your specific areas of focus. In this article, we provide an overview of public administration consultant jobs.

What Is a Public Administration Consultant?

A consultant is an expert in a particular field who works with an individual or organization and offers them professional advice and guidance. Many analysts and consultants work with clients on short- or long-term projects on a contract basis; others become trusted advisors for their clients and are paid through retainers.

In public administration, consultants may be brought in to work with government agencies, nonprofits, health care organizations and other public sector agencies. The work of a public administration consultant can change greatly from one client to another, but in general they:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of management analysts in all industries is projected to grow 11% from 2021 to 2031; when examining the data further, the employment of management analysts working in government is projected to grow 13.3% during the same period. Additionally, the median salary for management analysts working in government was $81,090 in May 2021.

How To Become a Public Administration Consultant

A career as a consultant, like with any journey as an entrepreneur, doesn’t come with a job description. You are your own boss, or – more accurately – you have many bosses. Your potential clients decide whether you have the right qualifications to help them, but here are some general guidelines.

1. Education

You can gain a strong foundation for a public administration career by earning an academic degree from an accredited university. While many degrees can be valuable, a bachelor's degree in public administration, political science, public policy, business administration, or a similar field is a good starting point. These programs often include courses such as government ethics, political science, public policy and more.

Many consultants also earn an MBA or even a doctorate in business administration. There are also graduate degrees that specifically focus on public administration, including the following degree programs here at Columbia Southern University:

2. Work Experience

A track record of success in public administration can be one of the most – if not the most – important factors in finding clients as a consultant. Many organizations can benefit from new ideas about their strategies, but recommendations on a more tactical level can often be just as impactful. When a consultant speaks from personal experience, those recommendations can carry more weight.

3. Certifications

Earning certifications can also go a long way in supporting your education and work experience to show clients that you’re qualified to be their consultant. Depending on the kinds of clients you work with, some examples of organizations that offer useful certifications are:

4. Professional Network

Building a network of professional contacts can be as important to consultants as it is for anyone. Relationships and referrals can help you rise to the top of your prospective client’s list or even bypass interviews altogether. Joining professional associations like the American Society for Public Administration and attending conferences and other events with industry professionals can be a good way to start.


A career as a public administration consultant can be rewarding personally and financially. It can be a way to use your professional experience to help leaders and organizations make good decisions, which in turn will help the communities they serve.

Here at Columbia Southern University, we offer online degree programs for public servants of all kinds. For more information about our degree program options in public administration, follow the links below:

To learn more about all of CSU’s online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

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