An Overview of MPA Graduate Salary Ranges


Federal Government Salary Range

The Federal Government is one of the single largest employers of MPA graduates. Finance, information technology, city management, human resources, purchase directors and many other positions rely heavily on MPA graduates, and with an aging government workforce approaching retirement, the need for new workers is soon to be larger than ever. An entry-level position with the Federal Government can yield a salary of $46,000 to $60,000 while typical mid-career Federal positions average closer to $65,000-$85,000. Government positions are typically reliable with high job security, considerable benefits, and pension plans.

Local Government Salary Range

Health services, treasury administration, resource allocation, and economic policy planning are just a few of the more common positions available to MPA graduates working in municipal governments. While smaller than federal agencies, municipal organizations and departments employing MPA grads offer superior opportunities for advancement, if lesser salaries on average. Current data suggests that the average salary for an MPA graduate working in a municipal government structure is between $21,000 and $66,000 with a median income of $38,000. Employment opportunities in a municipal government also offer excellent experience as they tend to involve more individual responsibility for the parties involved, given the smaller staff sizes and agencies.

Non-Profit Salary Range

What kind of salary does the average employee of a non-profit organization command? In 2001 it was anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. Current market data suggests that the non-profit sector is every bit as lucrative for an MPA graduate as the government, providing similar opportunities for experience and advancement. The non-profit sector’s continued growth suggests that further observation is warranted, as increasing size means an increased demand for the kind of organizational services provided by expert MPA graduates.

Private Sector Salary Range

The private sector is, traditionally, the most fiscally rewarding sector in which an MPA graduate may seek employment. Positions like policy analyst, program administrator, management analyst and business consultant pay substantially higher average salaries than municipal or federal government positions or, typically, non-profit organizations. According to data collected in 2010, the median salary for MPA graduates employed within the private sector was over $50,000, with the normal range extending all the way to $125,000. The breadth of the private sector makes for strong competition for high-level positions but allows access to a larger field of employment categories in general.


Higher-than-average salary grading is a continuing trend in jobs seeking MPA graduates. Across all sectors profitability is high, chances for advancement substantial, and demand significant.


  1. U.S. Office of Personnel Management & Pay Scale, 2010 study.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publication, “Wages in the Nonprofit Sector: Management, Professional, and Administrative Support Occupations,” accessed 4/22/2011,


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