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According to most experts, the best way for you to become a political analyst is to get a bachelor’s degree or a doctorate in some subject that is directly related. Political science is a very common choice, but it isn’t the only degree that works to prepare someone for this kind of career. For example, some people have a background in history, while others are experts on international subjects, which can be helpful for certain analyst career choices. Once you have the necessary education, you’ll have to apply for a job, and the potential career avenues for a political analyst are fairly wide-ranging, including everything from jobs with the news media, to governmental jobs, and jobs working directly with political campaigns. Determining in advance what sort of career you’re ultimately aiming for can be helpful in tailoring your education so that you specialize in the right areas.
Many jobs that political analysts choose are actually focused on the politics in other countries. For example, the American Central Intelligence Agency hires a fairly large number of political experts to study foreign political events in great detail, and then offer advice or write reports. A slightly better-known job for a political analyst is the task of working with campaigns, helping them to analyze various factors to help form effective political strategies. Probably the best-known type of political analysts are those that work with various news media organizations, including television analysts, and many of these people have some background experience working on the ground in political campaigns, sometimes in a major capacity.
Tailoring your experience and education towards the specific kind of political analyst job you’re looking for could potentially be very helpful. So, if you are aiming to become a political analyst for some government agency researching political issues in other countries, you might benefit from studying multiple foreign languages and taking complementary courses in foreign relations-oriented subjects. If you want to become a political analyst with the news media, then some journalism-oriented subjects could be useful, and it might help to get some real experience in a few political campaigns to boost your credentials.
The actual nature of the work for a political analyst can vary a lot depending on the exact kind of job a person has. Most jobs will involve the study of specific political situations with an aim towards drawing conclusions about the likely outcomes of political events and changes in public opinion. This can involve a lot of statistical analysis, an understanding of psychology, and a great deal of time spent studying past history to better understand the way public opinion changes in various situations. For these reasons, some experts recommend that math courses and those focused on psychology might be helpful on your resume if you want to become a political analyst, and history is often a central focus for people interested in this career path.
You'll also find a lot of journalists who cover politics transition into the political analyst role. That makes a lot of sense, particularly when you consider that getting a degree in, say, political science is good, but real world experience in how the political system actually works can be better.
That said, it might be a good idea for those wanting to be poiltical analysts to make sure they're getting a minor in something like journalism, English or mass media and then focus on working as a journalist for a time.
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