government leadership job examples

10 Examples of Leadership Roles in Government that You Can Achieve

Anyone who appreciates job security and excellent benefits, and who hopes to make a positive impact with their career, may want to consider getting a job in government! The perks of working at the national, state, or local level of government include generous time off and flexibility, covetable health care and retirement plans, and steadfast job security that only the government can offer. While businesses are impacted by the ebbs and flows of consumer interest and economic patterns, society will always require governing. Tapping into your potential future as a leader in government doesn’t have to be as far-fetched as becoming President, or a member of Congress. You don’t need a background in law to land a leadership role in government. Think bigger by learning how to apply your organizational leadership skills to a meaningful government position in your community.

Opportunity awaits in the federal government as well as at the state and local levels. The federal government is comprised of three branches: the Executive (including the President, and hundreds of thousands of employees), the Legislative (the Senate and the House of Representatives), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court as well as lower courts). Each is headquartered in Washington D.C., making the city a hot spot for government jobs. No fewer than 200,000 people, or about one-quarter of the city’s employed individuals, work in the federal government in Washington D.C. Yet, there are thousands of government positions in every state offering career pathways for virtually any area of interest or expertise.

In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 21 million individuals worked in local, state, and federal government. This count includes the U.S. Postal Service as well as government-owned schools and hospitals. The top occupations that comprise the largest percentage of government roles across the nation, along with employment numbers rounded to the nearest thousandth, include:

  • Educational instruction and library occupations – 6.242 million
  • Teachers for preschool, elementary, middle, secondary, and special education – 3.399 million
  • Office and administrative support occupations – 2.987 million
  • Protective services – 2.083 million
  • Elementary and middle school teachers – 1.799 million
  • Business and financial operations occupations – 1.308 million
  • Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations – 1.248 million
  • Management occupations – 1.184 million
  • Law enforcement workers – 1.137 million
  • Teaching assistants – 1.090 million
  • Business operations specialists – 1.054 million

It is staggering that there are over one million employees in each occupational area shown above. Individuals with a background in education, administrative work, security, business, finance, healthcare, management, law, and operations experience an exceptional bounty of opportunities for leadership roles in government. An advanced education in leadership, such as a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL), offers excellent preparation for these top disciplines. Yet, even artists, food service experts, forestry scientists, sales associates, and people with many other diverse skill sets can find interesting government work with the right organizational leadership background.


Wondering how Goodwin’s MSOL program can help you qualify for a leadership role? Check out our Get Started MSOL Guide today!


If you want to put your organizational leadership skills to use in your community, you can also consider working in your state constitutional office. Pursue either an elected or appointed position and help maintain order and justice by protecting the legal, financial, social, educational, and public safety interests of citizens. Here are some of the most exciting leadership roles in local government and the purposes these public servants fulfill:

  1. Assessor: Determine the value of taxable property and calculate property tax levies required to support government services and exemptions such as those for low-income seniors or disabled citizens.
  2. Board of County Commissioners / City Council: Provide legislative authority for the county and take on financial responsibilities such as adopting the county’s final budget, levying taxes, and appropriating revenue. Confirms appointments to county boards and commissions.
  3. Sheriff: Chief executive officer in conserving local peace, responsible for law enforcement and public safety, jails, and civil court systems.
  4. Treasurer: Administer the county’s financial transactions and act as custodian for the county’s money. Receive, disburse, and invest funds and manage county accounting.
  5. Coroner/Medical Examiner: Conduct county death investigations. A background in healthcare, medical law, and forensic science would be excellent preparation for this role.

Your local government provides numerous departments and agencies that offer job prospects, again, in a variety of disciplines and subject areas. Below are some popular departments and agencies found in most states, counties or territories:

  • Department on aging and disability
  • Department of agriculture
  • Department of banking
  • Building code council
  • Bureau of information technology
  • Children and families offices
  • State department of education
  • Commission for educational technology
  • Consumer protection commission
  • Criminal justice commission
  • Department of energy and environmental protection
  • Commission on fire prevention
  • Healthcare advocacy office
  • Department of housing
  • Human rights commission
  • Department of labor
  • Office of the chief medical examiner
  • Military department
  • Public health department
  • Veterans affairs
  • Workers compensation commission
  • Department of transportation

The variety offers many ideas for breaking into a government role by serving a department (and its constituents) that you care about. Roles at any of these departments, commissions, offices, agencies, or centers could include becoming a Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, Department Director, Project Manager, Program Director, Bureau Chief, or Superintendent, amongst many other leadership titles. Each department type, depending on its size and budget, may have an independent human resource department, legal division, strategic officers, and various types of project leaders from those in marketing departments to community outreach, recruitment, development, and external affairs, to name a few. Some of the most desirable leadership roles at the top of several influential departments include:

  1. Superintendent of Public Works: Manage county utilities including water, sewage, electricity, and gas, and maintain local roads, land, sidewalks, and traffic signage.
  2. Superintendent of Education: Oversee school programs in their district, work with the school board, implement policy, and improve student experience.
  3. Fire Chief: Coordinate response efforts to fire emergencies and provide education programs and training for the community.
  4. Chief of Police: Enforce public safety and traffic law, react to emergencies and crime, and educate.
  5. State Attorney General: Technically a chief legal officer. Propose legislation, advocate for the public, and enforce federal and state social, business, and environmental laws.

An advanced leadership degree is desirable for any of these roles. Whether you find work in a constitutional office or a sector-specific government role, you must be prepared to balance the duties compelled by the job, as well as the various and complicated interests of local businesses, institutions, and other government departments.

Working in government is all about negotiation and conflict resolution. Top-level communication, organization, negotiation, and conflict response, presentation skills, and confidence, not to mention softer skills such as empathy and listening abilities, are expected from a local government’s leadership. A Master of Science in Organizational Leadership teaches career-minded students exactly how to motivate change, manage the resources on their team or organization, and use data to make challenging choices.

To quench curiosity about working in a government role, passionate citizens can become involved in the language of policymaking and discussion by attending open public meetings held by their county. Of course, voting is another method of participation. Volunteering, commenting during forums, and responding to local surveys are ways that you can become engaged with the government. You can also start reviewing ample job boards managed by local government websites online for federal or state government leadership positions. You just might find one that will change your life!

To learn more about the career advantages Goodwin University’s MSOL program can offer, get in touch today by calling 800-889-3282! Or, start getting your application prepared here.