Find out which professional bodies and qualifications providers will enable you to take advantage of the necessary training and know-how to get ahead in your chosen field

Do I need to do postgraduate study?

Postgraduate qualifications are not necessary to find work in most areas of the public services and administration sector; however, there are some areas where it may be hugely beneficial to hold a higher qualification.

For example, a Masters or PhD in social sciences may be preferred for some government research posts, while a Masters in public sector management or health management could be useful for some management positions. Postgraduate study in arts administration, coupled with work experience, is always useful for those looking to break into the sector.

For more information on entry requirements and career development, see job profiles.

To find relevant courses in the UK, search for postgraduate public administration courses.

Should I join a professional body?

For public services roles, professional body membership depends on your chosen field of work. Relevant professional qualifications will be essential for some positions, such as accountant, lawyer or engineer.

The Civil Service currently recognises 25 professions, and provides career development and professional networking opportunities in all. Membership is open to employees working in government departments, agencies or non-departmental public bodies.

In administration, meanwhile, membership of a professional body can help increase your standing within your chosen field. This is particularly relevant for professional-level posts, such as company secretary. Here, qualifications from the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) are often required, along with other professional qualifications in law or accountancy.

Regardless of your field, joining a professional body can also help you:

  • advance your knowledge with certificates and qualifications;
  • gain access to learning resources and training;
  • network and keep up to date with advances in your field.

Which professional qualifications are recognised in the sector?

As in the private sector, the professional body and corresponding professional qualifications that may be essential or beneficial for your job will relate to your chosen field. They therefore can be in a wide range of areas, such as HR, law, accountancy or engineering.

Similarly, there are professional bodies in administration to support specialist areas such as education administrators, medical secretaries, practice managers and legal secretaries.

Professional bodies for general administration include:

  • AUA (Association of University Administrators) - professional association for administration and management staff working in higher education. Accredited members can benefit from continuous development of their knowledge, skills and practices. Professionals may choose to study for the AUA’s Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership, and even go on to complete a Diploma and Masters as part of a staged award.
  • IAM (Institute of Administrative Management) - professional body for administration and business management in the UK. Supports professional administrators, administrative managers and business leaders. Offers professional qualifications from levels 2 (GCSE) to 6 (third year of a university degree).
  • ICSA (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators) - this membership organisation for governance, risk and compliance professionals is the only qualifying body for chartered secretaries. Offers the Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme (CSQS), the main qualification needed to achieve chartered status. It also validates some postgraduate courses in corporate governance and provides a range of training courses as well as other useful information.