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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.

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

  • 4169.6: Political Scientists

2006 NOC-S

  • E038: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science

2011 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2016 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2021 NOC

  • 41409: Other professional occupations in social science

2023 OaSIS

  • 41409.08: Sociologists
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Political Scientists

2006 NOC: 4169.6

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group, 80.2% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 3 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

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

2016 NOC: 4169
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4169 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.00 $42.06 $32.76 $33.00
Overall $23.25 $55.54 $44.68 $43.11
Top $25.00 $80.04 $54.73 $50.69

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

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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