It takes many experts to drive the sprawling educational system, and an education policy data analyst is one of the key players in this complex setup. Policy analysts engage in research and analysis to assess the effects of policies that are currently in place or in the proposal stage. This type of analyst examines policies on the federal, state and local levels, the results of which are shared with government policymakers, private sector or community advocates for education and think tanks.
Scope of Functions of the Education Policy Data Analyst
Education policy analysts work in different capacities in the education sector and ancillary fields. On the local level, school boards could hire an analyst to study the impact of rapidly rising populations on school districts. These studies would cover crucial issues such as student-teacher ratios, safety management, space utilization and overcapacity solutions to ensure that the district continues to meet or exceed education standards.
With private sector think tanks, the education analyst’s role will focus on grant research and proposal preparation. This is a research-focused position as private foundations and government-sponsored funds have stringent requirements for approving proposals and tracking funding impact on the community. The larger education marketing companies rely on the expertise of policy analysts, along with other experts, on the type of products to develop for targeted demographics in the education sector.
When it comes to federal employment, the education policy analyst would focus on studying the potential impact of proposed and current legislative initiatives on students, teachers and school systems in general. On the flip side, policy analysts could work with special interest groups that advocate for education or certain programs that affect the education sector. Analysts could work alone or as a team of experts, depending on the scope and depth of the project.
Credentials of an Education Policy Analyst
Clearly, the policy data analyst is not an entry-level position. Advance credentials are required, starting with a bachelor’s degree in education, politics, social policy and related fields, according to the Houston Chronicle. For higher-level positions in federal government agencies and the private sector, a master’s degree and some field experience may be the minimum requirements. A law degree would also be helpful. This is a knowledge-based occupation, so it is important for those seeking a career in this particular policy analyst field to stay current on issues that impact education. In addition, mid to advance level research skills are required along with strong writing and presentation skills.
Occupational Outlook for Policy Analysts
The education sector is a dynamic system that continues to evolve and innovate. Solutions that work in one region may not demonstrate the same impact in another area. Today’s big buzz projects may be tomorrow’s failed experiment, but the education system needs to go on regardless of these hurdles. For these reasons, the education policy analyst will always find an occupational niche whether it is in the private or government sector. According the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, policy analysts as a whole will see a job growth of 10 to 20 percent in the 2012-2022 period.
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The education policy data analyst is an ideal career track for those with a passion for education advocacies. It is a path that may lead to leadership roles in politics, think tanks and in the academia.