Policy Analyst Job Description
Policy analysts work to influence political and social events, as well as raise public awareness on different issues. This involves conducting research, analyzing current policies, evaluating the effects of proposed legislation, and reporting on findings. While it is possible to work in this job as a generalist, many policy analysts choose to specialize and build their expertise in a particular area. Policy analysts typically work long and irregular hours, with a mix of office-based work, field work, and travel. This job is well suited to people who are passionate about progress and implementing change, who are strong communicators, and who have an analytical approach to interpreting and reporting on data.
Policy Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
Policy analysts can work for a variety of organizations and carry out a range of different tasks. Based on job listings we analyzed, a policy analyst’s duties typically involve:
Reviewing Legislation and Policies
A key part of this job is to review and evaluate policies and legislation to determine the benefits and impact of any changes that may occur. This involves identifying positive elements as well as any flaws to the legalities of a particular policy.
Liaising with Stakeholders
Policy analysts liaise with stakeholders to determine the needs, concerns, and viewpoints of documents, and to understand what the goals are of a project.
Policy analysts gather and report on both quantitative and qualitative data, analyzing it for any trends or important information that may be useful in formulating new policies.
Evaluating the Effects of Existing Policies
Policy analysts examine the effects of current policies and government programs, such as whether a new policy would have a positive impact on the public and whether it would help the government achieve certain goals.
Policy analysts formulate reports which condense and summarize information and display key evidence for stakeholders to review.
Policy Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Policy analysts should have strong interpersonal and communication skills, be comfortable public speakers who can provide presentations and reports on their findings, and work well as part of a team. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in political science or similar, as well as relevant work experience and the following abilities:
- Analytical skills – policy analysts must analyze data from different perspectives, so they need to have an analytical approach to tasks
- Organization – there are many aspects to working as a policy analyst, from gathering data to writing reports and working in the field to seeing how policies would affect the public, so great organization and attention to detail is important
- Communication skills – from report writing to presenting findings, policy analysts need to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing
- Teamwork – policy analysts typically work as part of a team on projects, so great teamwork skills are a must for success in this profession
- Interpersonal skills – policy analysts work with people from all different walks of life, so it’s important that they’re able to remain professional and polite at all times
Policy Analyst Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a policy analyst is a bachelor’s degree in political science or public policy. Employers also expect candidates to have experience in political or government areas, and to have developed a strong network of contacts before reaching this stage of profession. Many college campuses have student organizations focused on public policy topics, where great experience can be gained. Some policy analysts gain experience through working as college or university professors, as a lot of the work at think tanks is similar to academic work.
Policy Analyst Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for policy analysts is nearly $56,000, according to PayScale. Policy analysts in the 10th percentile earn around $40,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $81,000 a year. The higher end of the pay scale includes bonuses of up to $6,000, and profit sharing opportunities of up to $5,000. Level of experience impacts the pay level for this role, and most employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefits package.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about developing a career as a policy analyst.
ThinkProgress – this political news blog covers everything from climate, economy, health, justice, and world news. It’s a project of the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research organization, and makes for a brilliant resource for staying up to date with the latest political developments.
The World of the Policy Analyst: Rationality, Views, Politics – this book provides a detailed overview of the role of a policy analyst and the policy making process. It covers a wide range of topics, from the increasing fragmentation of the political system to the growing influence of think tanks at a national and state level.
Essential Statistics for Public Managers and Policy Analysts – a student-friendly guide to statistics, this is a great introduction that uses carefully selected examples to provide a comprehensive overview of how to apply statistics to the real-life challenges of working as a policy analyst. It covers budgeting, human resource management, organizational behavior, and much more.
Social Policy and Social Programs: A Method for the Practical Public Policy Analyst – a practical guide to the basics of social policy and program analysis, this book helps readers judge the effectiveness of current programs, and provides methods for analyzing social services such as supportive assistance, child welfare, and mental health.
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