Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why You Should Rethink Getting A Masters In Public Administration

There was something that I noticed yesterday when I was at my girlfriends gym, I had foolishly agreed try out her conditioning class in lieu of my normal regimen.  I was reading a profile of the personal trainers at the gym, typically standard fare for the most part.  Some went to university and graduated with a degree in kineseology or sports nutrition. Others simply had certificates.  But there was one that grabbed my eye.  This trainer had went to the same university that I had, albeit he had graduated 8 years before I had, and had a degree track very different from the others.

In 2000 he had graduated with a bachelors in criminal justice and seven years later he had received a masters of public administration from the University of California.  Now you may be thinking that this is just another one of the many examples that the Captain often cites when he talks about future overly 'educated' barristas.  Normally I would be inclined to agree. That this individual had amassed massive amounts of debt to obtain degrees with dubious market potential, however, unlike so many other wannabe public servants out there, he had something different.  He was a former Captain in the US military.

What does that mean?  It can mean a whole host of things.  One thing people often don't know, but this is true, is that as you advance in the military more education is required.  I could look for links to show this, but its my lunch break and I am going to take some liberties and simply go off of what one of my Marine buddies, and a future Army Officer, told me when we were drinking one day, around the time you want to become a Lieutenant Colonel, or maybe a Major, the military expects you to get a masters degree.  They also expect, and require, that all flag officers, i.e Generals, have a doctorate.  What this means is that the gentleman, and regardless of what I think of a criminal justice degree his service has earned him the honorific of gentleman, is that his degree may have simply been taken as a required step in a military career.  It stands to reason that public administration or political sciences would be very popular master degrees in the military field. 

You might be thinking why he is a trainer now? Well there are a whole host of reasons, but the one that I'd like to think is true, having never spoken to the man, is that he woke up one day and decided he was done with his military career and wanted to do something simple and personally rewarding.  Trainers can make decent money if they are very good and work in the right areas, they can also make next to nothing.  If that's the case, then more power to him.  However, I want to shortly cover another possibility. The one where personal training wasn't his first choice.

What if the man had woken up, and instead of thinking I want to be a trainer, decided he wanted to work in the public sector.  It stands to reason that a man with a masters from USC and a position in the military that required oversight of up to 225 men could easily get some sort of job in the vast public bureaucracies.  What if he tried and couldn't? What does that mean for the life long student who received an masters in the same field but no practical experience like our Captain trainer? (Or he could have gotten such a job and realized he hated it and decided to go into personal training from there, either way the point stands)  The fact is that there are thousands of officers and other individuals who have degrees and the practical experience of needed.  What chance does Brianne Berkley, who spent her time at every protest rally she could, or Larry Loyola, who boozed his way through 6 years of study, of getting the same job that battle hardened, or at the very least military disciplined, veterans and servicemen would gun for?  That is on top of the favoritism and backscratching that goes on for government positions.  The answer, not much.

My own uncle, a former military linguist and now higher level federal employee, said as much.  Sure you get a lot of talented and hard working people in the government, however, he said you get as many individuals that had no business being there, save the fact that they knew someone.  Now, I am not knocking the good ol' network. It's a fact of life that knowing people helps you get work. Doesn't matter how good you are, no one will notice you unless you either, a) advertise how good you are, or, b) develop a network of people that know how good you are.

I could talk about my uncle and his experience with dealing with less than competent employees, and he has some good stories to tell, but back to public administration.  The point I am trying to make to anyone considering a degree in any like field, though I highly doubt people who have public administration degrees or inklings towards them would read a blog with a conservative libertarian bent, to not do it.  There are a lot of people out there that realize that getting a masters in english isn't going to net you any monetary benefits.  Sadly, many of those individuals will still think that a public administration degree will have some kind of value to it.  It doesn't, or at least it won't for the majority of those who will receive them. You will go up against the likes of those who have a resume far more impressive than yours.  Moreover, as the government implodes, and it will most certainly implode, those positions will disappear; and the only ones getting the ones that remain will be the son of such-and-such a senator or former military. Do not get a degree in public administration.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.