How To Become A Policy Analyst In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become policy analysts in Australia.


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:


  • Health

  • Transport

  • Employment

  • Agriculture

  • Native affairs

  • Social services

  • Trade, technology

  • Law enforcement

  • Entertainment

  • Foreign affairs

  • Sports

  • Defence

  • Taxation

  • Finance

  • Immigration

  • Economic development

  • Urban planning

  • Regional development.



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

  • Critical thinking

  • Effective Customer service and Negotiation skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Able to work in a competitive and demanding environment

  • Great organisation

  • Strong numeracy

  • 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.




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



Industry Bodies:




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:


  • Politics

  • Australian politics

  • Political economy

  • Comparative politics

  • Political theory

  • Political philosophy


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:


  • Federal and state government departments

  • Commonwealth government organisations

  • Political parties

  • Trade unions

  • Universities

  • NGOs 

  • Private–sector consultancies

  • 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:


  • Policy Analyst

  • Diplomat officer

  • Public service officer

  • Journalist

  • Digital media content creator /manager

  • International aid or development worker

  • Research officer, assistant, or analyst

  • Security or Intelligence analyst

  • Political analyst

  • Electorate officer

  • Risk manager 

  • Public relations specialist

  • Education – administration and teacher

  • Advocacy officer

  • Human resources



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 CanberraAustralian Capital TerritoryMelbourneBrisbane 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%).



13. Conclusion


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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