This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal
. The author of this post is Joshua Peters
I think it's wonderful that young people want to learn more about our political processes; however, it's disheartening that so many young people want a career in politics. According to a FOX46 article
, more students are interested in working in politics after the 2020 elections. This is troubling because America needs more people to go into majors with technical expertise, not political know-how. The growing desire to be a career politician will lead to future problems for most individuals and for America as a whole.
Limited career path outside of law, education, and government
Despite what political science professors tell prospective students, the knowledge gained from this degree is extremely limiting. For perspective, consider what a degree in finance can offer students. Literally every industry needs a functioning finance department. These degrees have universal appeal to prospective employers, whereas poli-sci is specific to a few industries. Josh Meddaugh, an associate professor of political science at Clayton State University in Georgia, told U.S. News
that "employers seek workers with strong people skills and soft skills, which political science grads have in abundance."
While soft skills are important, they are easily taught to employees and only represents part of what it takes to do a job. Additionally, if an employer wants communication skills, then they will hire a communications major.
There is just not that many jobs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
, the number of jobs for a political scientist in 2019 was 7,000. In contrast and give the aforementioned number some context, the number of jobs for accountants for the same year was 1,436,100
. Employment of political scientists is projected to grow 6 percent or by 420 jobs from 2019 to 2029. In contrast, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 4 percent or by 57,444 jobs from 2019 to 2029. Moreover, political scientists need a master's degree or Ph.D. in political science, public administration, or a related field, whereas a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is typically required to become an accountant or auditor. So, your chances of landing a job is low in political science and it requires more years of education which means more individuals will be burdened by student debt in most cases.
America needs more STEM workers
The National Science Board reports the need for a STEM capable American workforce is urgent
. While some of the knowledge in political science does overlap with STEM (specifically those that take a more academic approach to political science), the vast majority of individuals with a political science degree will not be classified as a STEM worker. The NSB goes as far to say, "[t]he health of [a STEM] workforce is vital to America's economic prosperity, our scientific and technological competitiveness, and our national security." So, if you want to help America, then consider a STEM oriented vocation.
Leads to hyperpoliticization in society
The old adage "too much of anything is bad for you" is appropriate here, especially in an era of hyperpolarization in American politics. Again, taking an interest in politics is encouraging — defining a career out of it not so much. A potential unintended consequence that comes from a growing interest in a political career is the increase of a hyper-politicized society. There are three major problems with hyper politicization that come to my mind: an increase in money going into politics, an increase in bureaucratic jobs and processes, and an increase in work-role centrality (whereby politics is central to your life and identity). While the first two are extremely problematic, it's the latter that concerns me the most. Identity politics is a cancer in American society and has the tendency to cultivate an unhealthy emotional attachment to political processes rather than a healthy rational attachment.
I get it. Politics is trendy now. There is no other profession where you will find yourself in close proximity to media than politics. However, America needs doers not activists — and certainly not more people who are intent on creating mandates for citizens. Use up your electives for political science or minor or double major in it but don't set your career path to be in politics. It's not for everyone, and it has the potential to do more harm than good. America needs technical skills if we are to flourish in the twenty-first century.
Joshua Peters is vice-chair of the Wake County Young Republicans.