Policy analysts require a unique set of skills. They must be academically oriented, able to do independent research and draw conclusions on highly complex and often controversial information. At the same time, they must also work well in groups, communicate effectively and convincingly both orally and in writing, and possess the networking skills to generate publicity and criticism for their work. In addition to possessing curious and dynamic minds, they must also have the patience to study one subject for a long period of time.13
What Employers Want:
Most policy analysts have graduate degrees, at minimum a master's and more typically a law degree or doctorate.
Common areas of study are political science, international studies, economics and public policy; political analysts with a specialized interest might also pursue degrees on those fields, such as education, business administration, philosophy, psychology, or more technical fields like biotechnology, medicine, or environmental engineering.
Experience is equally as important as education. First hand work in the field of study is vital. Recent graduates might work in political or government administration, work as a congressional aide or intern to observe the policy-making process, or work with a nonprofit organization that deals with or advocates for the issue or group at hand.14
The government lists the requirements for policy analysis as:
- knowledge of a pertinent professional subject-matter field, and knowledge of public policy issues related to that field