How to Advance Your Career into Management: A Guide for the Public Sector

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By Jacob Maslow

The public sector is massive and requires a lot of talented, dedicated people to make it tick. If you’re currently in the public sector, you know just how vital your role is, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay in that role forever. Working your way into management is a great way to have a more significant impact, potentially at a higher salary range. It’s not, however, a seamless transition that you can step into. You must invest time and effort to make your dream a reality. The good news, of course, is that you can start today with this guide.

Learn the Missing Skills

Transitioning into management means more than just leading. You’ll also be expected to handle and master the administrative side of any project. This means finances, marketing, paperwork, and staying updated on the latest legislation to ensure the project is still on track. Your best bet is to earn a public administration degree to develop those skills.

These degrees are even offered online, so you can adapt them to work around your existing schedule. Remember that these degrees encourage you to specialize, so consider what role you want to aim for. Some in already specialized roles like firefighting, for example, will have it easier. If you move into a managerial role as you age, specializing in fire service administration is the way to go.

Let Your Employer and Managers Know

While earning your online degree, you’ll also want to get as much hands-on experience as possible. Let your manager or employer know that you want more responsibility and that your goal is to work in a such-and-such role. They should help you since it’s in their best interest to have managers who know the ins and outs of their unit or workplace.

This could look like mentorship, it could mean taking on more responsibility, or it could mean being made the head of a team. Often, just asking and being ready to push for your ambition is all it takes.

Showcase the Skills You’re Building

There is no reason to keep what you’re learning on your degree a secret. Not only will using those essential skills and that information help you internalize it and understand it on a real-world level, but it’s also how you can show your value to your employer. You don’t need to work as a manager to be able to get managerial experience, after all. Using what you learn in your job today, you can build up that practical experience that might help you get your dream job later.


Every career change is smoothed over by networking. Use your university’s career center to stay updated on opportunities and visit sites like LinkedIn to showcase what you’ve learned so potential recruiters can match you. From in-person to online, there are many ways to network so that you market your skills, declare your interest, and start working towards that great new job, even before you graduate.

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