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Political Scientist

Political scientists study the institutions, laws and methods used in political process and government, influences that shape government policy, practices and organization (politics) and fundamental questions about related concepts (for example, power, freedom, security, justice, democracy).

  • Avg. Salary $87,546.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.18
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • 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) 
Interest Codes
The Political Scientist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Political Scientists
INNOVATIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

METHODICAL

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

Duties
Updated Mar 29, 2016

In general, political scientists:

  • analyze the policies, public issues, legislation or operations and activities of governments, business corporations and regional, non-governmental and international organizations
  • research institutions, political processes and public policy and law relating to domestic and international politics (for example, study public opinion, political parties, elections, interest groups, social movements, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental relations, international law and organization)
  • study and teach the meaning and application of political concepts, ideas, theories and philosophies
  • collect, analyze and interpret data (for example, election results and surveys, public documentation)
  • publish the results of their research in academic publications, in written reports or through presentations at public seminars
  • advise elected representatives or political parties in municipal, provincial or federal politics
  • advise governmental and non-governmental organizations
  • serve on administrative boards and commissions
  • provide media commentary on public policy and political issues.

Political scientists usually specialize in particular 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.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 29, 2016

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

Political scientists working in universities or colleges divide their time between teaching, administrative duties, 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 29, 2016

Political scientists need the following characteristics:

  • a strong interest in political affairs and research
  • strong written and oral communication skills
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • good time management skills
  • critical thinking skills and the ability to understand the world from a variety of political, cultural and community perspectives
  • initiative and the ability to work effectively in groups and alone
  • for some specializations, moderate to advanced mathematical skills.

They should enjoy gathering, synthesizing and evaluating information, taking responsibility for projects, and taking a methodical approach to gathering information.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 29, 2016

The preferred credential for political scientists is a master's or doctoral degree in political science. 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 29, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 29, 2016

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, caucus researchers, executive or special assistants to ministers, research officers)
  • research bureaus and organizations that conduct surveys and opinion polls
  • consular offices
  • consulting firms that advise citizens' groups, large banks and corporations
  • advocacy research organizations that analyze government policies (for example, non-governmental organizations operating in the Third World)
  • 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 and may experience periods of unemployment. In electoral politics, job security is dependent 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 in this occupation will be 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 (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 29, 2016

Salaries for political scientists vary considerably.

Political scientists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group earned on average from $34.92 to $47.66 an hour. The overall average was $44.18 an hour. For more information, see the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Information Processing
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 29, 2016

Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) website: www.cpsa-acsp.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2016. 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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