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Career profile Political Scientist

Political Scientist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
Pay Range
$62,840 - $170,800 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Law and Government
  • Education and Training
  • History and Archeology
Core tasks
  • Disseminate research results through academic publications, written reports, or public presentations.
  • Teach political science.
  • Develop and test theories, using information from interviews, newspapers, periodicals, case law, historical papers, polls, or statistical sources.
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What does a Political Scientist do?

Political Scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

In addition, Political Scientists

  • may study topics, such as public opinion, political decisionmaking, and ideology,
  • may analyze the structure and operation of governments, as well as various political entities,
  • may conduct public opinion surveys, analyze election results, or analyze public documents.

What kind of tasks does a Political Scientist perform regularly?

Political Scientists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Disseminate research results through academic publications, written reports, or public presentations.
  • Teach political science.
  • Develop and test theories, using information from interviews, newspapers, periodicals, case law, historical papers, polls, or statistical sources.
  • Identify issues for research and analysis.
  • Interpret and analyze policies, public issues, legislation, or the operations of governments, businesses, and organizations.
  • Maintain current knowledge of government policy decisions.
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data, such as election results and public opinion surveys, reporting on findings, recommendations, and conclusions.
  • Provide media commentary or criticism related to public policy and political issues and events.
  • Evaluate programs and policies, and make related recommendations to institutions and organizations.

The above responsibilities are specific to Political Scientists. More generally, Political Scientists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Training and Teaching Others
Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

What is a Political Scientist salary?

The median salary for a Political Scientist is $125,350, and the average salary is $124,100. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Political Scientist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Political Scientists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Political Scientists earn less than $62,840 per year, 25% earn less than $90,780, 75% earn less than $157,710, and 90% earn less than $170,800.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Political Scientists is expected to change by 8.6%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Political Scientists every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$62,840 - $170,800
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Political Scientists?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Political Scientist are usually higher in their Investigative, Artistic, and Social interests.

Political Scientists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Political Scientists typically have strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Lastly, Political Scientists typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Political Scientist tend to value Achievement, Working Conditions, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Political Scientists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Political Scientists strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Political Scientists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Political Scientists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as analytical thinking, achievement/effort, and independence.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Political Scientists, ranked by importance:

Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

What education and training do Political Scientists need?

Many Political Scientists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Political Scientists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Political Scientists

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 1.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 6.0% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 32.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 38.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 16.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Political Scientists

Political Scientists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as law and government, education and training, or history and archeology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Political Scientists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
History and Archeology
Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Political Scientists

Political Scientists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Political Scientists need abilities such as written comprehension, oral expression, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Political Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Political Scientists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Political Scientists frequently use skills like reading comprehension, speaking, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Political Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.