Job Search

Policy Advisor vs. Policy Analyst: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in policymaking can be both exciting and rewarding. If you’re interested in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between a policy advisor and policy analyst. Both roles are important in the policymaking process, but they have distinct responsibilities. In this article, we compare and contrast the job titles of policy advisor and policy analyst, and we provide information on what you can expect from each role.

What is a Policy Advisor?

Policy Advisors provide analysis and recommendations on various policy issues to government officials and organizations. They conduct research on a variety of topics, such as healthcare, education, energy or environmental policy. Policy Advisors use this research to develop proposals for new policies or changes to existing ones. They also evaluate the potential impact of these policies and make recommendations accordingly. In some cases, Policy Advisors may also be responsible for communicating these proposals to the public or testifying before government committees.

What is a Policy Analyst?

Policy Analysts conduct research and analysis on social, economic and political issues to develop recommendations for government officials or private sector clients. They often specialize in a particular policy area, such as healthcare, education, energy or tax policy. Policy Analysts use data from surveys, experiments, interviews, focus groups and other sources to develop their recommendations. They also consider the potential economic, social and political impacts of proposed policies. Policy Analysts typically present their findings in reports, presentations or briefings. Some Policy Analysts may also work on developing and implementing policy initiatives.

Policy Advisor vs. Policy Analyst

Here are the main differences between a policy advisor and a policy analyst.

Job Duties

Policy advisors perform a wide variety of tasks to help develop and implement policies. They may conduct research, meet with stakeholders and advise government officials on policy development. Policy analysts typically focus solely on the implementation of a new policy once it’s been approved. They may monitor compliance, manage implementation teams and evaluate performance.

Policy advisors often work closely with government officials outside their organization to build relationships that support their work. Policy analysts usually work within their own organization to ensure its policies are successful. While both professions involve working toward the greater good, each role focuses on different parts of policy creation and implementation.

Job Requirements

Policy advisors and policy analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. However, many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree in public administration, political science or another related field. Some policy advisor and policy analyst positions may also require experience working in the government or in a related field. Additionally, many policy professionals are expected to be proficient in computer software programs, such as Microsoft Office, that they might use on the job.

Work Environment

Policy advisors typically work in an office environment, often for a government agency. They may travel to meet with clients and stakeholders or attend meetings where they can discuss policy ideas. Policy analysts also work in offices but may spend more time on the road than policy advisors. They may visit facilities that are affected by policies to observe how they’re implemented and report their findings back to policymakers.


Policy advisors and policy analysts both use research skills to inform their work. They may consult data sources, such as government reports or surveys, to understand a problem or issue facing a community or organization. They also use analytical skills to examine this information and identify potential solutions.

Policy advisors typically use their interpersonal skills when communicating with stakeholders, such as elected officials or business leaders, about the findings of their research and recommendations for change. They also may need to be persuasive when advocating for a particular course of action. Policy analysts may use their communication skills when writing reports or presenting their findings to colleagues, but they are not typically responsible for directly influencing decision-makers.

Both policy advisors and policy analysts benefit from having organizational skills. Policy advisors often coordinate multiple projects at one time and need to be able to keep track of deadlines and deliverables. Policy analysts may also work on multiple projects, but they typically focus on conducting in-depth research on a single issue.


Policy advisors and policy analysts both work in the field of public policy. Policy advisors can earn an average salary of $79,767 per year, while policy analysts can earn an average salary of $73,884 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


Paralegal vs. Social Worker: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Database Developer vs. Data Engineer: What Are the Differences?