Do you have good research skills and an interest in politics, current affairs, and international relations? If yes, a career as a policy analyst might be ideal for you.
Policy Analysts develop and examine policies that guide the design, execution, and modification of commercial and government operations and programs.
To become a Policy Analyst in Australia, you need a bachelor's degree in political science, public policy, international relations, or another related field. A postgraduate qualification and relevant work experience can give you a competitive edge over other job applicants.
This blog discusses the work environment, career progression, average salary, qualifications, jobs, and occupational expectations of a Policy Advisor and the steps to pursue this profession.
1. What is a Policy Analyst?
Policy Analysts work in government or other large organisations. They contribute to planning organisational policies that oversee commercial and government programs' design, execution, and modification.
Additionally, a policy analyst provides information to external and internal stakeholders about procedures and policies. They also prepare reports, papers, submissions, policy materials, and briefs on behalf of their organisation.
2. Types Of Policy Analysts
There are three main policy analysts' categories based on where they work and the tasks they perform:
Public Sector Policy Analysts
This policy analyst type assists in developing and evaluating policies to ensure the achievement of objectives in an organisation.
They work in the public sector at various levels of government and in areas such as:
Not-For-Profit Sector Policy Analysts
These Policy Analysts work in research institutes, advocacy groups, environmental organisations, charity institutions, sports organisations, and social and welfare service providers.
Some of the most common duties include: reviewing existing policies and legislature, consulting with major shareholders, researching trends, preparing recommendations and briefing papers, formulating and maintaining manuals, and providing policy advice to managers, politicians, and staff.
Private Sector Policy Officers
This policy analyst type works in privately-run large businesses across diverse industries such as banking and financial services, manufacturing, law, business consulting organisations, insurance, energy, health and education, and transport.
Besides carrying out general functions, they also represent the private sector in peak industry bodies.
3. What Does A Policy Analyst Do?
Policy analysts perform the following duties:
Research economic, industrial, and social trends and client's expectations of services and programs
Co-ordinate with investors to understand their needs, concerns, and outlook
Analyse policies and their effects on government and organisations' operations.
Offer strategic policy and planning advice
Develop policy options and advise on the most suitable ones.
Prepare surveys, data analysis, and reports for stakeholder
Evaluate the financial consequences of proposed policies
Create and maintain policy manuals
Formulate and execute policies
Provide policy advice to external investors and other staff
Write reports, proposals, guidelines, and other documents
Collect, understand and analyse information
Prepare recommendations and briefing papers for policy amendments
Communicate with program administrators to identify policy needs
Work with senior management to outline goals and develop strategic policies
Prepare mail, speeches, and Cabinet papers for ministers
Prepare and present reports on qualitative and quantitative data
Evaluate and oversee policies to determine their advantages, loopholes, and impacts.
4. Policy Analyst Skills
You need the following skills to succeed as a policy analyst in Australia:
Interest in current affairs, government, and law
Strong background in public policy or political science
A good understanding of organisational objectives and policies
Comfortable working with large amounts of data.
Strong analytical and research skills
Ability to perform research
Strong report-writing skills
Good attention to detail
Clear communication in written, and spoken English
Critical thinking skills
Able to communicate effectively
Able to work in a team
Able to handle work pressure and meet deadlines
Effective Customer service and Negotiation skills
Able to work in a competitive and demanding environment
Good Planning skills
5. Qualifications To Become A Policy Analyst In Australia
Do you want to know how to become a policy advisor in Australia? A related bachelor's degree with some experience to qualify for this role is required.
Complete your Senior Secondary Education certificate
You need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as international relations or political science, to attain a Policy Analyst role.
Secure a policy analyst internship while studying for a policy analyst degree. It will provide valuable work experience and improve your employability for an entry-level position.
Though optional, earning a postgraduate qualification will help in career advancement.
6. Steps To Become A Policy Analyst In Australia
Here is the study pathway to becoming a policy analyst in Australia:
Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Program
You need a formal qualification in political science, international relations, public policy, or any other related field. Some of the best undergraduate degree options include:
Bachelor of Political Science
Bachelor of International Relations
Bachelor of Arts (International Relations and Political Science)
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
You can secure a policy analyst role after graduation and don't necessarily need relevant experience. However, work experience may assist you in getting ahead in this competitive sector.
You can find comprehensive graduate programs at government organisations that offer excellent training to fresh graduates.
Step 3: Apply For Jobs
After graduating with a relevant degree, aspiring policy analysts should apply as soon as possible for job opportunities to get a professional head start.
Update your resume with the job-specific skills, strengths, qualifications, and professional certifications (if any). Apply to suitable job vacancies with a cover letter.
Step 4: Consider Completing a Postgraduate Qualification
Most candidates complete postgraduate studies in a specialist field. The practical and theoretical knowledge and skills you acquire certainly help in career progression.
A few relevant postgraduate courses include:
Graduate Diploma in International Relations
Master of International Relations
Graduate Certificate in International Relations
Master of Laws
7. Policy Analyst Courses
Bachelor of Political Science - Australian National University
It is the ideal qualification to understand social dynamics and overseas relations between nations. The course curriculum covers the following topics:
After completing the course, you gain knowledge and skills in government, strategic political and international consultancy, specialist roles in business, private enterprise, welfare groups, public service, and agencies.
Bachelor of International Relations and Political Science - Flinders University
This qualification helps you learn about politics, international relations, public policy, and the Australian political system. Also, by studying for this degree, you gain highly-sought skills relevant to several jobs across sectors.
Political Science and International Relations Major - University of Western Australia
This undergraduate "major" helps you develop a fundamental understanding of political systems and government in Australia and worldwide. The professional skills you learn enable you to engage with the politics of the dynamic global world.
Bachelor of Political, Economic, and Social Sciences (Honours) - The University of Sydney
Do you want to make a career in research, communication, and analysis in the political arena?
This course equips you with the personal and professional skills to work as a researcher in political/social/economic sciences.
8. How Much Does A Policy Analyst Earn In Australia?
The average policy analyst salary in Australia is AU$89,821 per year, equivalent to AU$33.50 per hour. The work experience, qualifications, specialisations and location determine the compensation.
Though the starting remuneration can be low, it increases as you gain skills and experience. Here is the estimated annual pay at varying experience levels:
Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$80,500
Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$98,115
Experienced Policy Analysts (10-19 years of experience): AU$92,500
Based on job openings, Policy Analysts earn comparatively higher in certain cities:
St Leonards NSW: $115,715 per year
Sydney NSW: $107,557 per year
Melbourne VIC: $107,399 per year
Barton ACT: $106,381 per year
Perth Central Business District WA: $92,107 per year
Melbourne City Centre VIC: $89,644 per year
Canberra ACT: $85,330 per year
9. Where Do Policy Analysts Work?
Policy Analysts work in a wide range of settings, including government-private institutions and organisations. These include:
Commonwealth government organisations
Large businesses across various industries include financial services, banking, law, business consulting, insurance, manufacturing, energy, transport, education, and health.
Most policy analyst professionals work with government organisations at junior levels to gain experience and build a professional network before being considered for this position.
10. Work Conditions For Policy Analysts
Policy analysts spend most of their time indoors in offices. However, travelling may be required to attend meetings in other organisations.
A few policy analysts even undertake fieldwork in addition to the usual office work. Though they work standard hours, they may need long and irregular hours when working towards deadlines.
11. Policy Analyst Jobs In Australia
Qualified policy analysts have various potential occupations to choose from:
Public service officer
Digital media content creator /manager
International aid or development worker
Research officer, assistant, or analyst
Security or Intelligence analyst
Public relations specialist
Education – administration and teacher
12. Job Outlook For Policy Analysts In Australia
Policy analysts have favourable job prospects all across Australia. Jobs are available in the capital cities, particularly in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Melbourne, Brisbane Inner City, and Sydney are other areas seeing a large share of workers.
Around 79% of people in policy analyst jobs work full-time for an average of 41 hours per week at work.
Industries that employ Policy Analysts are:
Public administration and safety industry
Professional, scientific and technical services
Education and training
Health care and social assistance
The average age of Policy Analysts is 38 years, with most aged 25 to 34. Out of the total employed workforce, 65% comprise females. It is 17 percentage points above the average of all jobs (48%).
Each business field requires governing policies for its operation resulting in policy analysts finding many work opportunities in public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.
With various specialisation options available, continual learning makes the work quite rewarding in a great field.
Many policy analysts have general arts or science degrees. A degree in public policy and management or political science can give you a perfect start in this career.
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