Public policy analysts specialize in researching complex issues, crafting possible solutions, and recommending policy actions. On complex issues ranging from education and health care to national defense and homeland security, policy analysts help raise public awareness and often help shape government policy. Other policy analysts evaluate the effectiveness of existing government policies and programs. Public policy analysts work for research organizations, interest groups, consulting firms and government agencies.
Researching and Marketing Solutions to Problems
Policymakers in the legislative and executive branches of government grapple with a broad range of problems, working to develop policy solutions. Policy challenges range from stemming school dropout rates and ensuring access to affordable health care to protecting the nation from terrorism and ensuring stable economic growth. Policy analysts research and compare possible solutions to these and other problems, then market their solutions to policymakers, the media and the public. Many policy analysts publish books, research studies, newspaper columns and briefings. Others testify to Congressional and other committees on key policy issues.
All Types of Analysts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that many public policy analysts work for policy research firms, also known as think tanks. Other analysts work for interest groups, which advocate policy positions favorable to certain industries or other groups. In this setting, analysts conduct research and recommend policy that supports the group’s agenda. An analyst employed by an oil-industry interest group, for example, would conduct research that supports the industry’s policy preferences. Some analysts work for consulting firms, while others work for government agencies.
Think Tanks and Government Agencies
The exact nature of a public policy analyst’s work depends on the organization that employs her, according to the BLS. Think tanks employ analysts to research complex public issues, analyze possible remedies, and recommend solutions. Some think tanks study the broad range of public issues, while others concentrate on a specific area, such as the budget, the environment or national defense. The research agendas and missions of think tanks shape the type of research their analysts conduct. Policy analysts in government agencies often evaluate agency policies and programs, as well as conduct other research based on agency needs.
Academic and Research Skills Needed
Employment as a public policy analyst generally requires a graduate-level degree, usually in a social science field, such as economics, public policy or political science, though the BLS reports that some come from other academic backgrounds, such as philosophy, business or law. Some entry-level policy analyst jobs may be available to those with bachelor’s degrees. Policy analysts should have excellent research skills and the ability to analyze qualitative and quantitative data. Analysts also need strong written and verbal communication skills.
Salary for Capital Analysts
Policy analysts have some discretion in the type of work they will do. In many organizations, analysts identify areas of interest and may help to secure research funding. Earnings estimates for policy analysts vary, and the BLS does not classify policy analyst as a separate occupation. According to the jobs website Indeed, though, public policy analysts in Washington, D.C. earn an average annual salary of $78,000. as of May, 2014.
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