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Political scientist

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Summary of occupation

Political scientists study and analyse the ways in which governments and political systems are organised, and the relationship between government, society and the economy. They seek to resolve political problems through practical and theoretical means by offering advice to and commentary on the way in which governments operate. They research elections, laws, political groups, write reports on their findings, contribute to media discussion on politics, liaise with international government organisations, and provide advice to governments, politicians, non-government organisations (NGOs), and other groups and individuals with an interest and stake in the political system.

ANZSCO description: Political scientists study and analyse the ways  in which governments and political systems are organised, and the  relationship between government, society and the economy.
Alternative names: Political Researcher
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A political scientist needs:

  • an interest in politics and the government system
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • the ability to stay up-to-date on current affairs
  • research, analysis and interpreting skills
  • planning and organisation skills
  • the ability to interpret statistics
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Working conditions

Political scientists work mostly in the offices of government departments, private research institutions, universities or non-profit organisations. They usually work regular business hours, but may be expected to work longer hours to ensure deadlines are met. Political scientists may be expected to travel to attend conferences or to research political systems or situations taking place interstate or internationally. Political scientists usually require direct access to those involved in the political system, such as parliamentarians, as well as to the media. In Western Australia therefore, they mostly work in Perth.

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Salary details

On average, political scientists, classified under social professionals, can expect to earn between $1 250 and $1 499 per week ($65 000 and $77 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a political scientist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Political scientists use computers and other office equipment. They also refer to books about political theory, libraries, databases and archives, and research reports and policy documentation. They may use audio recording equipment to document their research, and media archives to find documented material that refers to their research topic.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a political scientist you usually need to complete a degree majoring in politics, political science or international relations.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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