Policy analyst jobs entail conducting research and interpreting data related to social and political issues such as national security, crime prevention, health care, infrastructure and protection of the environment. The policy analyst job description also includes proposing solutions to societal problems and working to influence government action on the issues. The most common policy analyst jobs are analyst positions in the federal government, state governments, nonprofit organizations, private companies and foundations or trusts. Each type can be further divided into subcategories.
Typical policy analyst jobs within the federal government include foreign policy analyst, government policy analyst, antiterrorism policy analyst, and arms control policy analyst. Some overlap exists among these types of policy analysts. For example, a foreign policy analyst and an arms control policy analyst both have command of the details regarding treaties that govern missiles and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. All types of government policy analyst jobs require an ability to critique the principles behind current policies and present proposals, backed by statistical data, for developing new policies.
Health policy analyst, public safety policy analyst and higher education policy analyst are some of the most common policy analyst jobs in the private sector and within nonprofit organizations, foundations and trusts. A health policy analyst, for instance, typically works for an organization dedicated to improving access to health care for particular portions of the population. The job description often includes attempting to influence relevant government agencies through formal or informal memos, articles in the media or academic journals, and presentations before public or professional audiences.
Other types of policy analyst jobs include strategic research policy analyst, product development policy analyst, aviation policy analyst, medical material policy analyst and occupational safety policy analyst. Any type of policy analyst job requires skills in the areas of accounting, gathering information, meeting deadlines, communicating effectively, and analyzing data. Policy analysts should also be capable of studying the effects of new technologies in their field.
Entry-level policy analyst jobs generally require a bachelor's degree. More advanced positions require a master's degree and several years of experience in the field. Some high-level policy analyst jobs in sensitive areas of the federal government also require top-secret security clearance. Political science, economics, business administration and public policy are typical areas of study for a policy analyst. Some policy analysts get their start by working as a program analyst, a college instructor or an assistant to an experienced policy analyst.