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a foreign government's goals and their implication for the U.S., and develop political theories based on analysis of historical documents and statistics.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. Political analyst jobs can be challenging but are considered important to the functioning of American politics.
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 Information for Political Analysts
So you want to be a political scientist. Becoming a political scientist requires a combination of education and experience. 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. Keep in mind that if you are interested in learning how to become a politician, similar educational requirements likely apply, but political analysts are not politicians.
In May 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual political analyst salary was $122,220. Between 2019 and 2029, job opportunities for political scientists are expected to increase by 6%, which is faster than average. Candidates with a graduate degree may enjoy more opportunities. Now let's go over the steps involved in becoming a political analyst.
The following table includes a summary of the career requirements for a broad range of political jobs, including policy analyst, political commentator, and political scientist.
|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|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2019)*||$122,220 (for Political Scientist)|
Sources: Central Intelligence Agency, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online, CareerOneStop
How to Become a Political Analyst: Steps
Interested in learning more about how to become a policy analyst? Let's look at some of the most important steps you can take:
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in a Relevant Field
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's 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.
- 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: Find a Job as a Political 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 an MS in Political Science
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. So how long does it take to become a political scientist? If you get a bachelor's degree and then a graduate degree, it could take you at least six years to get a career as a political analyst going. However, you might start your career immediately after your bachelor's degree if you find a position that works for you.
Political Science Analyst Job Duties
There are many things you may be responsible for as a political analyst, meaning that you will probably keep learning new skills throughout your career. Here are some of the most important things you can learn as you explore how to become a political commentator:
- Interpersonal skills
- Analytical reasoning
- Communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Prediction of trends
- Excellent knowledge of political campaigns
- Ability to weigh politicians' goals against people's needs
Now that you understand how to become a political scientist, let's go over what we've talked about. A political analyst is a political scientist. As of May 2019, political scientists earned a median annual salary of $122,220. The political analyst job outlook is good, with a projected 6% growth between 2019 and 2029.