Political analysts conduct research on political processes and policies; predict political, social, and economic trends; and evaluate the cultures, values, and political ideologies of foreign governments. Political analysts who focus primarily on the political systems of other countries are particularly concerned with how those systems impact United States’ policies.
While over half of all political analysts work for the Federal Government, many professional organizations and nonprofit agencies hire political analysts to help raise public awareness of various political and social issues.
Some entry-level analyst jobs require only a bachelor’s degree, but many employers in the field of political science look for applicants with graduate degrees. Teaching positions at the college level generally require a Ph.D. In addition to classes in political science, history and economics, political analysts should pursue courses of study that provide instruction in statistics and mathematics.
Political analysts can gain much needed experience through internships offered by many government agencies and nonprofit organizations. They can develop skills needed for conducting research, analyzing data, and writing reports. Many employers look for prior experience when hiring for full-time positions in this field.
In gathering information, political analysts may conduct public opinion surveys, interview high-ranking officials, and evaluate election results and important documents. Individuals in this field should have excellent communication skills. Political analysts should be prepared to perform the following duties:
Although political analysts work fairly regular hours, they often face tight deadlines. They may share their workload with other analysts, and may need to travel to conduct interviews or other pertinent research. Those who are stationed overseas, such as Foreign Service Officers, will experience the stress associated with adjusting to a new culture.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field should experience a growth rate of over 20% by the year 2018, which is well above average compared to other professions. A May 2008 government report cites the average salary for a political analyst as $104,000, with the median salary ranging from $74,000 to $124,500.