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How to Become an Education Policy Analyst

Drexel University School of Education

What Is an Education Policy Analyst?

Education policy analysts are professionals who are passionate about the field of education and about promoting system-wide changes that improve the educational experiences of students, teachers, and administrators. Their work centers upon evaluating the effectiveness of existing policies, designing action-oriented solutions to challenges in education, and modeling the potential outcomes of proposed policies. Education policy analysts can hold a range of positions, working with state and federal lawmakers, school districts, or local school communities. These professionals can also specialize in teacher compensation, education finance, equitable access to educational resources, and special education, among many other subject areas.

What Does an Education Policy Analyst Do?

In general, education policy analysts gather and analyze data related to existing educational systems, processes, and policies. They make research-based recommendations in the development of new policies, evaluate the potential impact of proposed policies, and measure outcomes as policies are implemented. Education policy analysts also communicate information about policies with lawmakers and the public and can help school administrators and educators understand the requirements and context of the policies by which they must comply.

Education Policy Analyst Job Description

The responsibilities of education policy analysts vary based on work setting and level of leadership. However, across the range of positions, the duties outlined in education policy analyst job descriptions typically include:

  • Research existing education policies and analyze how policies positively and negatively affect students, teachers, parents, administrators, and education systems.
  • Monitor current events, political and economic developments, and social trends that may have an impact on education policies.
  • Collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, including standardized test scores, results of surveys, and broad economic and budget statistics.
  • Use research and expertise to draft new education policies or propose amendments to existing policies, while providing cost-benefit analyses and the projected impact of new or amended policies.
  • Identify legal or ethical issues within existing or proposed policies.
  • Document and communicate research findings through published essays, reports, and presentations to lawmakers, educators, and other key stakeholders.
  • Forecast political, economic, and social trends that may affect education policies in the future, at local, regional, and national levels.

What Degree Do You Need to Become an Education Policy Analyst?

Most education policy analyst jobs require a bachelor’s degree in education policy, education, public policy, political science, or related social science, along with at least two years of experience working in education, government, non-profits, policy analysis, or similar industries. Aspiring education policy analysts that hold a bachelor’s degree may also earn a certificate, such as the Drexel School of Education’s Graduate Certificate in Education Policy, to enhance their expertise and help maximum the effectiveness of their work. About one quarter of education policy analyst jobs require a master’s degree in education policy, education, public policy, political science, or relate field, and generally, an advanced degree can provide a competitive edge in the job market.

What Skills Should an Education Policy Analyst Have?

Education policy analysts work in fast-paced settings, where they must monitor changing economic, political, and social realities, and also produce large-scale, data-driven policy analyses and recommendations. To be successful in these endeavors, education policy analysts demonstrate strength in the following skills:

  • Research: Education policy analysts must have a thorough understanding of research methodologies. Within each research project, they should be skillful in conducting case studies and surveys, leading focus groups, and producing cost-benefit analysis reports.
  • Analytical and critical thinking: One of the main responsibilities of an education policy analyst is to interpret large-scale data sets and research findings and be able to apply that information to policy recommendations. Being able to evaluate the reliability and methodologies of data collection is also an important skill.
  • Writing: Education policy analysts are skilled in writing comprehensive policy analyses and recommendations, drafting articles and reports, writing grant proposals, preparing briefings or speech material for lawmakers, among other types of written communication.
  • Presentation skills: Education policy analysts must be comfortable leading presentations, conferences, and discussions on research findings and policy recommendations.
  • Collaboration: Being able to work effectively with colleagues to solve problems, conduct research, and meet policy deadlines is a critical skill for education policy analysts. They must also develop productive working relationships across a range of stakeholders, from lawmakers to educators, who may hold conflicting views on policy matters.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Education Policy Analyst?

It takes about six years to become an education policy analyst. Aspiring education policy analysts should expect to devote at least four years toward completing a bachelor’s degree and gaining internship experience, along with at least two years of relevant work experience. Specialized certificates, such as Drexel’s Graduate Certificate in Education Policy, typically take about one additional year to complete. Earning a master’s degree in education policy may take an additional two years. In many cases, certificate and master’s degree programs can be completed while gaining work experience at the same time.

How to Become an Education Policy Analyst In 5 Steps

Below are the five main requirements for becoming an education policy analyst:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree: Individuals must earn a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study, such as education, public policy, economics, political science, or public administration.
  2. Gain internship and work experience: Gaining real world experience through an internship and employment is a critical part of the career pathway for education policy analysts. Individuals can pursue these opportunities across a diverse range of industries, from the offices of lawmakers and political organizations to non-profits and community development organizations.
  3. Grow your professional network: Making and maintaining connections with internship managers, fellow students and volunteers, work supervisors, and peer professionals in the field – through LinkedIn, networking events, and professional associations – can provide greater access to job openings. Relevant associations include the American Society for Public Administration and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
  4. Earn a graduate-level certificate or master’s degree: Earning a credential like Drexel’s Graduate Certificate in Education Policy can help individuals enhance their expertise in the field and have an advantage in a competitive job market. Some higher-level positions may require earning a master’s degree in education policy, public administration, or similar discipline.
  5. Apply for a job as an education policy analyst: With the required educational background, work experience, the next step is to apply for open positions. In job postings, policy analysts might also be called researchers, scholars, or fellows.

Are Education Policy Analysts in Demand?

Because today’s political, economic, and social landscapes change quickly, experienced education policy analysts are in higher demand. According to Zippia, it is projected that the number of policy analyst jobs will increase by 14% from 2018-2028. On a regional basis, the demand for education policy analysts is highest in Washington, DC.

How Much Does a Policy Analyst Make?

According to Payscale, the average education policy analyst salary is $63,336, and most salaries range from $46,000-$90,000. Annual salaries for the profession vary based on location, type of employer, years of experience, and level of education. According to Zippia, education policy analysts in Seattle, WA earn the highest average salary in the U.S. at $91,000.

Become An Education Policy Analyst with Drexel University's School of Education

The role of education policy analyst is an exciting professional pathway, one that offers innumerable opportunities for contributing to positive change within educational systems. For those with a bachelor’s degree, Drexel’s Graduate Certificate in Education Policy is the next step in gaining the expertise and skills for a professional role in the field, and it’s a credential that can help individuals embark on a wider range of education policy careers.

Start the admissions process today or contact us for more information.