The COVID-19 pandemic brought a host of unprecedented anxieties to the forefront of American life, including questions about the effectiveness of face coverings, social distancing and vaccinations in limiting the risk of catching the disease. As American citizens grappled with these issues, they did so in the light of public health policies, laid out by healthcare organizations as well as governing bodies. COVID-19 brought home the extent to which health policies can shape public life, and potentially promote a wider sense of well-being.
Individuals who evaluate and assess health policies are known as health policy analysts. These professionals play a huge role in determining which health policies are implemented and adopted in our society. For those who are drawn to the detail-oriented work of policy formation and are passionate about public health, the policy analyst role can be a rewarding vocation. Completing a graduate-level degree program in a healthcare-related field can be a good way to hone the skills needed to succeed in this role, to make a difference in public life and to earn a competitive policy analyst salary.
What Does a Policy Analyst Do?
The basic duties of a policy analyst are to evaluate how public policies work, and to make recommendations for how they may be improved. The policy analyst’s role may entail appraising current policies for efficacy and cost, or predicting some of the potential results of a proposed policy. A policy analyst may work for a government agency, a healthcare organization or a nonprofit organization.
Policy Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
While day-to-day duties may vary from one position to the next, the policy analyst’s responsibilities will usually include tasks such as these:
- Collecting and interpreting data about current health policies, including data from surveys, polls, focus groups, or independent research
- Analyzing budgets to determine the feasibility of a particular policy
- Developing new policies, while ensuring that any concerns about budget, scope, potential obstacles or intended effects are addressed
- Communicating the details of a new policy to stakeholders, leaders, governing officials or the general public
Policy Analyst Work Settings
Typically, policy analysts work in office settings, sometimes collaborating with a full team of analysts. Some of the most common work environments for policy analysts are:
- Hospitals and healthcare organizations
- Government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Health insurance companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
Policy Analyst Salary
The median annual salary for policy analysts was around $61,300 as of June 2022, according to data from Payscale. Those who are in the upper 10th percentile of the salary range make as much as $86,000 annually.
A number of factors can affect a policy analyst’s actual salary. Some of these are:
- Level of education. While entry-level roles are available for those with undergraduate degrees, advanced degrees can open the door to higher salary ranges.
- Years of experience. Having additional years of experience, or a wider breadth of experience working with different organizations, can yield a higher pay rate.
- Geographic location. Salary expectations can vary according to a job’s geographic locale, as different areas have different costs of living.
The Skills of the Policy Analyst
A number of core competencies are needed for success in the policy analyst role. Some examples are:
- Data analysis. The policy analyst role is about gathering and interpreting data. This requires research skills, the ability to collect and store data, and comfort working with independent research teams. Expertise with data modeling and analytics tools is also a plus.
- Creativity. Successful data analysts take a creative approach to problem-solving, drawing on data but also thinking outside the box to develop unique ways to combat illness and promote health.
- Critical thinking. Policy analysts need to implement critical thinking skills to assess causal relationships between policies and outcomes. Critical thinking is also needed to navigate public health policies in light of current political realities.
- Communication. Policy analysts need to have robust communication skills to be able to clearly convey their findings to decision-makers and educate the general public on policies. Written and oral presentation skills are both essential.
Pursue a Career That Makes a Difference
Working as a policy analyst can be a meaningful way to make a difference in disease prevention and wellness promotion. To succeed in this role, and to earn the highest policy analyst salary, individuals need to develop the right skills. One way to do that is by enrolling in the George Washington University Healthcare Master of Business Administration program, which provides an emphasis on vital research and business skills, plus a focus on health policy.
The curriculum covers crucial health policy topics including regulatory affairs, integrative medicine and clinical research. Take an important step toward mastering healthcare policy, and toward a vibrant career shaping public health endeavors, with George Washington University. Start cultivating your knowledge of health policy analysis in our 100% online program today.