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To become a political scientist in the United States, you will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. A major in political science, international relations, pre-law or public administration is highly recommended over majors in other disciplines; some universities also offer degree programs in homeland security. Your preparation for this career, however, should include more than higher education. Involvement in grassroots organizations and volunteer work on political campaigns can greatly increase your employment opportunities. Other activities that can prove helpful in your quest to become a political scientist include serving on political debate teams, holding an office on a Sister City International committee and publishing works on current events.
Anyone pursuing a career as a political scientist must possess excellent writing and analytical skills because of the need to publish papers and books on the current political economy to be read by members of the public who are seeking viewpoints from those who are not in a government office. Research skills and an extensive knowledge of history also are very important to possess if you want to become a political scientist. This is because people in this profession often serve as advisers to politicians, public administrators and chief executive officers of for-profit and not-for-profit large companies.
The college coursework you follow as part of your preparation to become a political scientist usually will allow you some freedom to choose of what are known as electives in the higher educational system of the United States. It's generally a good idea to choose classes in history, advanced writing and analytical skills. Some political scientists focus primarily on issues dealing with administration within companies, and others concentrate on the issues of the internal politics of their nation or on their country's foreign policy. Your choice of specialization will affect the preparation you make to become a political scientist.
Learning a foreign language and the culture of the people who speak it is considered very important, especially if the written works you will publish on a regular basis deal with a foreign nation. Some political scientist jobs within the U.S. government require the passing of a civil service exam. Other job possibilities include writing for professional journals and news magazines or working as a research analyst within a large corporation. Keep in mind that many political scientists hold positions that do not have "political scientist" in the job description.
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