Political Scientist Job Description
A political scientist is a social scientist with an expert knowledge of politics - the theory and practice of government. Political scientists conduct research to understand and explain government and political issues, like how political power is distributed in a society, how different governments operate and interact, how rules are made and enforced, and how the rules affect the governed.
A political scientist should be responsible, perceptive, patriotic, enquiring, objective, analytical and methodical, and have the ability to communicate effectively. They should be good at planning, organizing, and managing relationships with others.
Famous political scientists include Aristotle (“man is a political animal”), Plato (“Yes, propaganda and deceit always go together”), Julius Caesar (“Men freely believe that which they desire”), Niccolo Machiavelli (“What benefits the enemy, harms you; and what benefits you, harms the enemy”), Michel de Montaigne (“We should be similarly wary of accepting common opinions; we should judge them by the ways of reason not by popular vote”), and Bertrand Russell (“Politics is largely governed by sententious platitudes which are devoid of truth”).
Pursue a career in political science if you are interested in government and the effect it has on society. You should be someone who is enjoys current affairs and political events.
What does a Political Scientist do?
Political Scientists may do some or all of the following:
- study government, political processes and political issues
- study government organizations and devise methods for improving them
- design and conduct research and surveys, collect and analyze data
- prepare and report findings
- identify and describe government/political issues
- help legislators analyze and interpret legislative issues
- develop and test political theories
- forecast political, economic, and social trends
- publish research results on political magazines, or write columns for newspapers
- make presentations and give speeches on political issues
- supervise and train subordinates
- teach at colleges and universities
Where does a Political Scientist work?
Places of work for political scientists include:
- Civic and taxpayer associations
- Regional planning councils
- Political action committees
- Political party headquarters and candidates/campaigns
- Research organizations
- Federal government
- Media houses
Political scientists usually work normal office hours in offices, but may sometimes work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. They may travel for research or to attend campaigns, seminars or conferences. Those who work as commentators give presentations on television and radio studios which may be live programs.
What is Required to Become a Political Scientist?
To become a political scientist, you will need a master's or doctoral degree in political science or a similar discipline.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- Comparative Government
- Political Thought - Classical and Medieval
- International Politics
- Research Methods in Political Science
- Data Analysis & Statistics for Political Science Research
A political scientist may specialize in any of the following fields:
- Political theory
- International relations and politics
- Comparative politics
- Local government
- Political economy
- Political ecology
- Political parties and elections
- Gender and politics
- Public administration
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Political scientists need to have:
- self discipline
- moral courage
- integrity and reliability
- good attention to detail
- good interpersonal skills
- good listening and communication skills
- good judgment and decision making skills
- time management and organizational skills
- debating and negotiation skills
- leadership skills
- research skills
- the ability to interpret and analyze information
- the ability to teach and instruct others
- the ability to work well under pressure
- the ability to stay up to date on current affairs
- the ability to tolerate people who think differently from them
- knowledge of sociology and anthropology
- knowledge of human behavior
- knowledge of law and government
- knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions
- knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures
- knowledge of local, state and federal politics
Should I be a Political Scientist?
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