How to Become a Political Scientist

Becoming a political scientist takes many years of education, constant attention to current events and a desire to do be involved in academia for the rest of your career. There are only a few major steps to becoming a political scientist, but it may take as many as twelve years to reach that final goal. First, it is important to note what makes someone a political scientist. By identifying the key job responsibilities and expectations of a political scientist, we will be able to define the steps toward obtaining this career.

Identifying the Responsibilities of a Political Scientist

Political scientists typically work in an academic environment, such as a university campus or at a think tank. The job of a political scientist includes doing research in many different fields. Political scientists study anthropology, psychology, history, and philosophy. Many hours are spent conducting research, facilitating social experiments, compiling data, and simply studying reports written by colleagues. They study the roles of power, the methods of government and policy, and many other aspects of community organization. Political scientists then take this knowledge and teach college courses as well as give advice to policy makers in an attempt to evoke well thought out policies and plans.

Typical Background Education of Political Scientists

Most commonly, political scientists discover their passion for politics at a later age and decide to major in political science, history, philosophy, psychology or some other social science subjects in order to then go on to receive a master's degrees in political science, and then a PhD. This education process can take as many as eleven years but can be accomplished in as few as eight years. Political Scientists usually decide on a specific focus, such as international conflict, constitutional law, or civil-military education. Deciding on a focus can happen during the graduate study period, but it can be helpful to decide on a focus during the undergraduate years in order to take classes that will help them advance their goals.

Create a Solid Resume

Political scientists, like every other specialist, must have an outstanding resume in order to rise above other applicants. It is not enough to simply have academic experience. A great political science resume should include philanthropic work, solid work experience, and any other extracurricular activities that will highlight your potential to be a successful political scientist.

Finding a career as a Political Scientist

After going through the necessary education process and creating a great resume, the next step is to find a job as a political scientist. Possible jobs include working for a Think Tank, finding a government position, joining a federal political campaign, or becoming a professor at any number of universities throughout the country. Most universities hire assistant professors as supporting faculty to professors. Opportunities for advancement and tenure will come after publishing several pieces of work and teaching many courses.