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Political Scientist

Political scientists study the institutions, laws, and methods used in political processes and governments. They examine influences that shape government policy, practices, and organizations (politics). They also study fundamental questions about related concepts, such as power, freedom, security, justice, and democracy.

  • Avg. Salary $77,751.00
  • Avg. Wage $43.03
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Social Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Political Scientists (4169.6) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science (E038) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Political Scientist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Political Scientists

Interest in co-ordinating information to analyze, synthesize and interpret surveys and other research data relating to political institutions and practices


Interest in consulting with other political scientists and related researchers; and in planning and directing public opinion surveys


Interest in assembling research data by studying literature and the works of other researchers and in observing the workings of contemporary political institutions and organizations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2020

In general, political scientists analyze the policies, public issues, legislation, and operations or activities of organizations. This may include all levels of governments, corporations, and regional, non-governmental, and international organizations. Political scientists may:

  • Research institutions, political processes, and public policy and law relating to domestic and international politics (for example, they may study public opinion, political parties, elections, interest groups, social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental relations, and international law and organization)
  • Study and teach the meaning and application of political concepts, ideas, theories, and philosophies
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data, such as election results, surveys, and public documentation
  • Publish the results of their research in academic publications or written reports, or present it at public seminars or professional conferences
  • Engage with public and non-public sectors to help develop or reform policy
  • Advise elected representatives or political parties in municipal, provincial, or federal politics
  • Advise governmental organizations and NGOs
  • Advise private interests such as corporations or lobby on their behalf
  • Serve on administrative boards and commissions
  • Provide media commentary on public policy and political issues

Political scientists usually specialize in areas such as:

  • Political theory
  • International and comparative political economy
  • International relations and strategic studies
  • Political ecology
  • Comparative government and politics
  • Political development and democratization
  • Gender and politics
  • Political parties and elections
  • Political behaviour and voter turnout
  • Public policy and administration
  • Federalism
  • Local government
  • Provincial politics
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Political scientists employed by political parties may work long, irregular hours, especially during election campaigns. Those employed in the diplomatic service, by international organizations, or by NGOs may attend numerous social functions.

Political scientists working in universities or colleges divide their time between teaching, administration, community outreach, and research. Travel to meetings and conferences often is required. Tight schedules, deadlines, and heavy workloads can be stressful.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Political scientists need:

  • An interest in political affairs and research
  • Interpersonal, communication, and time-management skills
  • Critical-thinking skills to understand the world from a variety of political, cultural, and community perspectives
  • Initiative and the ability to work effectively in groups and alone
  • The ability to withstand criticism

They should enjoy gathering, synthesizing, and evaluating information and taking responsibility for projects. They should like taking a methodical approach to research. Some specializations require moderate to advanced mathematical skills.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

The preferred credential for political scientists is a master’s or doctoral degree in political science or related social science field. Doctoral (PhD) degrees are required for college and university teaching positions.

The standard admission requirement for a master’s degree program is a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a related discipline with an acceptable grade point average (GPA) in the last 2 years of study.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Concordia University of Edmonton

Grant MacEwan University

Mount Royal University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in political science may work in:

  • Partisan (connected to a political party) and non-partisan positions in parliament, legislative assemblies, municipalities, government departments, Crown corporations, and regulatory agencies (for example, they may work as caucus researchers, executive or special assistants to ministers, or research officers)
  • Research bureaus and organizations that conduct surveys and opinion polls
  • Consular offices
  • Consulting firms that advise citizens’ groups or large corporations
  • Advocacy research organizations that analyze government policies (such as NGOs operating in developing nations)
  • The news media (as political reporters)
  • Businesses or corporations (as government relations specialists)

Political scientists who have master’s or doctoral degrees may work in:

  • Senior administrative positions in government departments
  • Colleges or universities
  • International service organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Bank
  • Private consulting firms or think-tanks

Self-employed consultants work on short-term contracts. They may go through periods without work. In electoral politics, job security depends on election results.

Political scientists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other professional occupations in social science. In Alberta, 79% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Salaries for political scientists vary a great deal.

Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.00 $41.44 $34.37 $34.03
Overall $30.84 $55.02 $43.03 $41.18
Top $34.52 $64.72 $48.62 $44.88

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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