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Become a Political Analyst: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn about the educational requirements for a political analyst, including recommended undergraduate majors. Explore the step-by-step process that can help you start a career as a political analyst. View article »

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  • 0:01 Political Analysts
  • 0:48 Career Requirements
  • 1:47 Step 1: Earn a…
  • 3:05 Step 2: Work as an Analyst
  • 3:26 Step 3: Earn a Graduate Degree

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Video Transcript

Political Analysts

A political analyst is a type of political scientist. An analyst might research political systems or the relationships between the U.S. and foreign countries, advise national leaders about a foreign government's goals and their implication for the U.S., and develop political theories based on analysis of historical documents and statistics. He or she may also analyze and report on election results and forecast political trends.

Many political analysts work for the federal government. Think tanks and private firms also provide job opportunities, although the pay in such cases can vary, depending on the grants received and the group's political affiliations.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; graduate degree may be required
Degree Field Political science, foreign affairs, anthropology, history, international relations, or public administration
Experience 2-8 years of experience may be required
Key Skills Verbal and written communication, research, analytical, critical thinking, presentation, and monitoring skills; knowledge of law and government
Salary $99,730 (2015 median for political scientists)

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency, Northrup Grubman and Florida Power & Light job postings found in October 2012, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online, CareerOneStop

An aspiring political analyst needs a minimum of a bachelor's degree in political science, foreign affairs, history, international relations, or other related major to obtain a job in the field. Some positions may require candidates to have a graduate degree and/or 2-8 years of experience. A political analyst should have good analytical, critical thinking and research skills and be able to present well both orally and in writing. He or she should also be knowledgeable about government and law.

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that political scientists in general earned a median annual salary of $99,730. Between 2014 and 2024, job opportunities for political scientists are expected to decrease by 2%. Candidates with a graduate degree may enjoy more opportunities. Now let's go over the steps involved in becoming a political analyst.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American Government
  • International Relations, General

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

As we said earlier, political analysts need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a relevant major. Undergraduate degree programs in political science may cover topics in data analysis and statistics, media and politics, modern political theory, and policy processes. Students may also study the American presidency, environmental policy, the judicial process and politics in the Southern U.S.

Some schools offer dual bachelor and master's degree programs in political science. These programs allow students to earn their undergraduate and graduate degrees in a shorter amount of time than if they pursued both degrees separately.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship. Many schools offer undergraduate students the chance to complete internships with government agencies or non-profit organizations that interact with federal or state governments. Internships introduce students to the ways in which politics affect different industry sectors and the political process.
  • Hone investigation and analysis skills. Much of a political analysts' job includes researching and analyzing data. Because of this, developing data interpretation and investigative skills can be beneficial to working in the field.

Step 2: Work as an Analyst

Many employers of political analysts prefer candidates with several years of work experience. Government agencies hire analysts to investigate foreign or domestic political issues. Private industries might hire analysts to work in their political relations departments and manage their relationships with the government.

Step 3: Earn a Graduate Degree

According to the BLS, many political scientists have graduate degrees in political science, public administration or a related field. Master's degree programs in political science require at least 30 credit hours of study, which may include courses in political data analysis, political research and methodology, and the current issues in American politics. Additional requirements may include a thesis or participation in an internship.

Let's go over what we've talked about. A political analyst is a political scientist. As of May 2015, political scientists earned a median annual salary of $99,730, in a field where employment opportunities are projected to decrease by 2% through 2024.

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