Teaching Careers Updated October 30, 2019

Education Policy Analyst: Career and Salary Information

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

Education policy in the 21st century ignites passions and attracts controversy because so much is at stake — the future of our children, our country, and the world at large. Education policy analysts work to answer the most pressing questions facing our education system. When they succeed, more kids get a chance to fulfill their potential, and the future gets a little bit brighter for everyone.

As big-picture thinkers with a strong interest in education, people in this profession tackle major challenges, such as improving learning outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and making college affordable to families from across the economic spectrum.

At-a-glance: education policy analysts

Education policy analysts carry a great deal of weight in the world of education. They decide the policies that will lead to changes impacting the next generation.

Education policy analyst job description

Education policy analysts have a desire to shape education. They identify, brainstorm, and research the key issues in America’s public schools, then provide a well-reasoned recommendation for the best policy solution, clearly spelling out the benefits and drawbacks.

By looking at education systems, processes, relationships, and structures, education policy analysts determine whether legislative and institutional guidelines are serving the nation’s youth effectively. They act as advocates for critical programs that need funding. Their work helps create sustainable educational policies that are beneficial on a larger scale. And they may also help school administrators and educators understand their legal and regulatory environment.

Typical duties include:

  • Researching topics in education affecting the U.S. school system or from comparable international educational systems
  • Evaluating how education policies affect the public — students, parents, teachers, and society
  • Collecting and analyzing information, including data from surveys of students/parents/teachers, standardized test results, and broad economic measures
  • Using qualitative and quantitative sources and methodologies to develop and test theories
  • Reporting findings, publishing analytical research and essays, and giving presentations to important stakeholders
  • Monitoring events, policy decisions, trends, and other issues with implications for the education landscape
  • Forecasting political, economic, and social trends
  • Conducting cost/benefit analyses and making recommendations to legislators and other important decision-makers
  • Managing projects individually and within a team
  • Assisting with monitoring and responding to federal, state, and local policy activities related to higher education

Education policy analysts may work on education policy at the local level with schools and school boards. They may also tackle nationwide challenges recommending solutions to lawmakers, the media, and the public. Others help nonprofits develop grant proposals and negotiate contracts with government agencies. Private sector businesses also hire education policy analysts to help market educational products to students.

Educational policy analysts also explore:

  • Public school funding
  • K-12 academic standards
  • High school graduation rates
  • Class size and its effect on learning outcomes
  • K-12 curriculum development
  • Technology
  • Teacher training and compensation
  • Efficacy of standardized testing
  • Adult education and job training

Depending on your employer, you may work on a mix of these topics or you may focus heavily on one or two special subjects, becoming the foremost expert in a particular area.

Who makes a good education policy analyst?

Someone who is:

  • Skilled at identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
  • Creative and always generating ideas
  • Attentive to details
  • Highly curious and a lifelong learner
  • Capable of absorbing lots of information quickly
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Adept at using statistics and statistical software
  • Comfortable working independently and collaboratively with other team members
  • Careful about documentation and note-taking
  • Knowledgeable and an expert in the field of education and policy

Education policy analysts in-depth

Educational and certification requirements

  • Education: Master’s or doctorate degree
  • Typical Study time: 6-10 years

There is not a specific degree or license requirement for education policy analysts. Most employers expect their education policy analysts to have an extensive educational background. There are many routes to becoming an education policy analyst — experience as a teacher, a government worker, journalist, or school administrator can be the first steps.

A master’s degree in public policy, child development, or another educational field of study will be needed to succeed in this career. Senior policy analysts frequently have PhDs.

Classroom teaching experience is valuable but not essential. It’s far more crucial to have knowledge of quantitative analysis techniques and an understanding of the historical context of current educational policy.

Concordia University-Portland offers online graduate degree programs in education that will prepare you to analyze education policy from the inside out. Check out the following programs that can provide a solid foundation for your career as an education policy analyst:

Salary range for education policy analysts

Salaries for education policy analysts can vary dependent on location, employer, experience, and education level. The field of policy analysis is expected to grow 5% from 2018 to 2028.

Here is a snapshot of average education policy analyst salaries:

  • Payscale.com: $60,413
  • Indeed.com: $72,320
  • Glassdoor.com: $67,691
  • SimplyHired.com: $70,066
  • Zippia.com: $65,000

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros

  • Impact on the entire educational system
  • Intellectual challenges
  • High pay relative to many positions in education
  • High likelihood of earning health insurance and retirement benefits
  • Opportunity to work in public service

Cons

  • Education system bureaucracies can be difficult to change and frustrating to work with
  • Much less opportunity to work directly with students compared to other jobs in education
  • Most of the job involves reading and writing, which can be frustrating if you want more hands-on work
  • Work can be politicized and highly controversial

Professional development

Professional Associations

Successful education policy analysts often join professional organizations for access to networking opportunities with other public policy professionals.

Best of the web

The internet makes it easy to connect with prominent education policy analysts. Here are some favorites:

Favorite education policy analyst websites and blogs

Favorite education policy analyst Twitter handles

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