Career Development

What Does a Policy Specialist Do?

Find out what a policy specialist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a policy specialist.

Policy specialists are responsible for creating and implementing public policy. They work with government agencies to develop new regulations, rules, and laws that govern everything from healthcare to education to the environment.

Policy specialists may also be tasked with analyzing current policies to determine their effectiveness or identify areas where they can be improved. This analysis often involves extensive research into a wide range of topics related to the policy area in question.

Policy Specialist Job Duties

Policy specialists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Writing reports and conducting research on specific issues or topics based on client requests
  • Reviewing proposed legislation to assess its impact on clients and offering feedback to legislators on possible amendments
  • Researching and analyzing laws, regulations, and policies to recommend changes that may improve efficiency or effectiveness
  • Preparing talking points and briefing materials for political candidates or elected officials on key issues
  • Preparing written analyses of proposed legislation or other legal documents to determine their impact on specific groups or industries
  • Conducting research and providing information to support federal agencies in developing new policies and procedures
  • Preparing briefs and other written materials needed for legal proceedings
  • Conducting outreach to members of the public to gather opinions about current issues affecting them
  • Preparing reports that document the findings of research efforts, including data analysis and interpretation
  • Preparing reports and other documents for committees or other bodies within an organization

Policy Specialist Salary & Outlook

Policy specialists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company size and location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of policy specialists is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for policy specialists is expected to increase as governments seek ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Policy specialists will be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programs and to make recommendations for improvement.

Policy Specialist Job Requirements

A policy specialist typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most policy specialists have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree. A policy specialist’s degree can be in a variety of disciplines, including public policy, political science, economics, statistics and business administration.

Training & Experience: Many policy specialists receive on-the-job training to learn the specific policies and procedures of their new employer. Training may include shadowing current policy specialists or learning from other employees. Some policy specialists pursue continuing education courses to keep their skills current.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications can validate a professional’s qualifications to current and future employers. Policy specialists can earn certifications to gain more practical knowledge of their daily responsibilities, test their professional skills and further advance their career.

Policy Specialist Skills

Policy specialists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Research: Policy specialists need to be able to research topics and issues to create effective policies. They need to be able to find information about the problem, the potential solutions and the potential outcomes of each solution. This requires extensive research skills, including the ability to read and interpret data, evaluate sources and find information online.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a policy specialist, you may be required to communicate with government officials, community members and other stakeholders. Effective communication can help you convey your ideas and persuade others to support your initiatives.

Analysis: Analytical skills allow you to assess a situation and determine the best course of action. As a policy specialist, you may be required to research and analyze data to create new policies or evaluate existing ones. Your analytical skills can help you determine the impact of a policy and whether it’s effective.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills allow you to identify issues, develop solutions and evaluate the success of your solutions. As a policy specialist, you may be responsible for creating and implementing policies that help to solve a problem in your community. For example, you may work with law enforcement to create a new policy that reduces the number of car accidents in a particular area.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes and make adjustments accordingly. As a policy specialist, you may be required to review and edit legal documents, so attention to detail is an important skill to have. It’s also important to have attention to detail when conducting research, as you may need to notice small changes in data or statistics.

Policy Specialist Work Environment

Policy specialists work in a variety of settings, including government agencies, think tanks, private consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations. They may spend time in an office setting, working on research projects, writing reports, or giving presentations. They may also travel to attend conferences or meetings, or to conduct field research. Policy specialists typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may occasionally need to work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines or attend events. The work can be stressful at times, as policy specialists must be able to handle multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously. However, most policy specialists find the work to be stimulating and challenging, and they feel that they are making a positive impact on the world.

Policy Specialist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how policy specialists work. Policy specialists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

The need for more technical skills is a trend that is quickly becoming apparent in the policy world. As technology becomes more complex, policy specialists will need to be able to understand how it works and how it affects society.

This means that policy specialists will need to be well-versed in computer science and other technical fields in order to be successful. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with engineers and other professionals who work in these areas.

More Collaboration Between Government and Business

As government and business become increasingly intertwined, there is an increasing need for policy specialists who can bridge the gap between the two sectors.

Policy specialists are needed to help create policies that are beneficial to both government and business, as well as to help implement those policies once they have been created. This requires a deep understanding of both sides of the equation and the ability to work together towards a common goal.

Greater Focus on Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important part of policymaking, as governments around the world are realizing the value of using data to make decisions.

Policy specialists who are skilled in data analytics will be in high demand, as they will be able to use data to identify trends and make better decisions about public policy. In addition, they will be able to provide valuable insights to policymakers and help them make better decisions based on facts rather than assumptions.

How to Become a Policy Specialist

A career as a policy specialist can be incredibly rewarding. It offers the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and to contribute to the development of effective public policies. However, it is important to consider all aspects of this career before embarking on it.

As a policy specialist, you will need to have a strong understanding of the issues related to your area of expertise. You will also need to be able to analyze data and research findings, and develop solutions that are based on evidence. Additionally, you will need to be able to communicate effectively with stakeholders and decision makers.

Advancement Prospects

Policy specialists can advance their careers by taking on additional responsibilities within their organization, such as heading up a policy research team or managing a policy portfolio. They may also move into management roles or take on positions with greater responsibility for developing and implementing policy. In addition, policy specialists who have a strong understanding of the policy-making process and the ability to develop and communicate complex ideas may move into teaching or consulting roles.

Policy Specialist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are looking for a Policy Specialist who will be responsible for researching, writing, and editing policy briefs and other materials on a variety of topics. The Policy Specialist will work with the Policy Director to develop and implement strategies for communicating the organization’s policy positions to a variety of audiences. The ideal candidate will have excellent research, writing, and editing skills, as well as the ability to think strategically and work independently. They should also be familiar with the policymaking process and have a working knowledge of the organization’s issue areas.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand, interpret, and explain laws, regulations, and policies to individuals and groups
  • Advise clients on the best way to comply with laws and regulations
  • Conduct research on a variety of topics related to specific policy areas
  • Write reports, briefing materials, talking points, and other communications products
  • Work with senior staff to develop legislative and regulatory proposals
  • Monitor legislative and regulatory developments and keep abreast of new issues
  • Serve as liaison with outside organizations, interest groups, and the public
  • Plan and implement educational campaigns and outreach programs
  • Coordinate activities among various stakeholders
  • Train others in the interpretation and implementation of laws, regulations, and policies
  • Develop and maintain databases and tracking systems
  • Perform administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings and preparing correspondence

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in public policy, political science, or related field
  • 3-5 years professional experience in policy analysis, research, or writing
  • Exceptional analytical and research skills
  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in public policy, political science, or related field
  • Experience working in the legislative or executive branch of government
  • Experience with statistical software programs, such as R, STATA, or SAS
  • Familiarity with APA style guide


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