Education Policy Analyst: Career and Salary Information

Education Policy Analyst: Career and Salary Information
Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

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Education policy in the 21st century ignites passions and attracts controversy because so much is at stake — the future of our children, our country, and the world at large. Education policy analysts work to answer the most pressing questions facing our education system. When they succeed, more kids get a chance to fulfill their potential, and the future gets a little bit brighter for everyone.

As big-picture thinkers with a strong interest in education, people in this profession tackle major challenges, such as improving learning outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and making college affordable to families from across the economic spectrum.

At-a-glance: education policy analysts

Education policy analysts carry a great deal of weight in the world of education. They decide the policies that will lead to changes impacting the next generation.

Education policy analyst job description

Education policy analysts have a desire to shape education. They identify, brainstorm, and research the key issues in America’s public schools, then provide a well-reasoned recommendation for the best policy solution, clearly spelling out the benefits and drawbacks.

By looking at education systems, processes, relationships, and structures, education policy analysts determine whether legislative and institutional guidelines are serving the nation’s youth effectively. They act as advocates for critical programs that need funding. Their work helps create sustainable educational policies that are beneficial on a larger scale. And they may also help school administrators and educators understand their legal and regulatory environment.

Typical duties include:

  • Researching topics in education affecting the U.S. school system or from comparable international educational systems
  • Evaluating how education policies affect the public — students, parents, teachers, and society
  • Collecting and analyzing information, including data from surveys of students/parents/teachers, standardized test results, and broad economic measures
  • Using qualitative and quantitative sources and methodologies to develop and test theories
  • Reporting findings, publishing analytical research and essays, and giving presentations to important stakeholders
  • Monitoring events, policy decisions, trends, and other issues with implications for the education landscape
  • Forecasting political, economic, and social trends
  • Conducting cost/benefit analyses and making recommendations to legislators and other important decision-makers
  • Managing projects individually and within a team
  • Assisting with monitoring and responding to federal, state, and local policy activities related to higher education

Education policy analysts may work on education policy at the local level with schools and school boards. They may also tackle nationwide challenges recommending solutions to lawmakers, the media, and the public. Others help nonprofits develop grant proposals and negotiate contracts with government agencies. Private sector businesses also hire education policy analysts to help market educational products to students.

Educational policy analysts also explore:

  • Public school funding
  • K-12 academic standards
  • High school graduation rates
  • Class size and its effect on learning outcomes
  • K-12 curriculum development
  • Technology
  • Teacher training and compensation
  • Efficacy of standardized testing
  • Adult education and job training

Depending on your employer, you may work on a mix of these topics or you may focus heavily on one or two special subjects, becoming the foremost expert in a particular area.

Who makes a good education policy analyst?

Someone who is:

  • Skilled at identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
  • Creative and always generating ideas
  • Attentive to details
  • Highly curious and a lifelong learner
  • Capable of absorbing lots of information quickly
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Adept at using statistics and statistical software
  • Comfortable working independently and collaboratively with other team members
  • Careful about documentation and note-taking
  • Knowledgeable and an expert in the field of education and policy

Education policy analysts in-depth

Educational and certification requirements

  • Education: Master’s or doctorate degree
  • Typical Study time: 6-10 years

There is not a specific degree or license requirement for education policy analysts. Most employers expect their education policy analysts to have an extensive educational background. There are many routes to becoming an education policy analyst — experience as a teacher, a government worker, journalist, or school administrator can be the first steps.

A master’s degree in public policy, child development, or another educational field of study will be needed to succeed in this career. Senior policy analysts frequently have PhDs.

Classroom teaching experience is valuable but not essential. It’s far more crucial to have knowledge of quantitative analysis techniques and an understanding of the historical context of current educational policy.

Salary range for education policy analysts

Salaries for education policy analysts can vary dependent on location, employer, experience, and education level. The field of policy analysis is expected to grow 5% from 2018 to 2028.

Here is a snapshot of average education policy analyst salaries:

  • $60,413
  • $72,320
  • $67,691
  • $70,066
  • $65,000

Jobs in education policy

Educational policy director

A policy director works for higher-learning institutions, local and state school boards or agencies, or in the private school sector. They’re responsible for creating, developing, and managing educational policies that meet the needs of students and educators. They collaborate with stakeholders and help them understand the importance of policy changes. Their work involves researching current educational trends, gathering data on student performance, and understanding legal requirements in order to create successful education plans.

Median salary: $87,900

Education improvement specialist

The improvement specialist has a vital role in creating successful educational policies. They’re responsible for implementing new programs based on research and working to identify and implement strategies for improving the quality of education in schools, such as through curriculum design, teacher training, or assessment. They assess the current educational environment and use data-driven analysis to develop initiatives that lead to improved student outcomes. They also provide support to teachers and administrators by offering technical assistance and other resources.

Median salary: $74,700

Executive director of education

The executive director leads educational programs and initiatives in a school district or institution. They develop strategies to improve student performance, implement curricula, and ensure equitable access to resources. They’re also often tasked with providing guidance and support to school administrators, teachers, and other staff members. They may be involved in budgeting decisions, community outreach, and advocacy efforts related to education policy.

Median salary: $82,550

Jobs in education research

Data analyst

Data analysts are responsible for collecting and analyzing data related to educational programs, policies, and initiatives. This includes tracking student performance, identifying areas of need, and developing strategies to improve outcomes. Analysts evaluate existing methods and suggest new ways of working to increase effectiveness. The role requires excellent analytical skills and an understanding of how data can be used to inform decision-making.

Median salary: $62,000

Post-secondary education instructor (professor)

In addition to designing coursework and lecturing, a professor oversees research projects involving the observation and measurement of a range of educational circumstances, such as the integration of technology or the contributions of homeschoolers. Their goal is to prove or disprove the effectiveness of inventive, cutting-edge teaching practices.

Median salary: $74,500

Educational statistician

A statistician collects, analyzes, interprets, and reports on educational data in order to evaluate existing programs and suggest ways to improve outcomes. Their aim is to resolve educational challenges with specific data, utilizing cutting-edge software and secure databases to ensure the privacy of confidential research. They think critically and creatively about how data can best be used to identify areas of need or inform strategies for improvement.

Median salary: $85,250

Jobs in education reform

Curriculum designer

Curriculum designers create educational material that’s engaging and easy to understand. Primary responsibilities include designing and implementing educational programs that meet the needs of students and teachers. They ensure the curriculum reflects established standards, guidelines, and best practices in education. However, they also challenge existing approaches to teaching and learning and implement new procedures that aim to improve the overall quality of education.

Median salary: $74,300

Educational psychologist

This professional works with students, parents, teachers, and administrators to help promote learning success for all students. They identify academic, social-emotional, and behavioral difficulties that might interfere with a student’s ability to succeed in school. They then develop strategies to help children overcome mental health challenges and reach their full potential. Educational psychologists strive to create positive environments where students feel supported and safe while they learn.

Median salary: $77,450

Educational assessment designer

This individual is responsible for creating assessment materials, such as exams and questionnaires, that measure a student’s understanding of content. The assessment designer ensures that materials are clear and straightforward, avoiding repetitive or overly precise instructions, so they can adequately measure student learning. Materials use a specific format and appropriate scoring method that directly corresponds with the outcome under assessment. 

Median salary: $67,600

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Impact on the entire educational system
  • Intellectual challenges
  • High pay relative to many positions in education
  • High likelihood of earning health insurance and retirement benefits
  • Opportunity to work in public service


  • Education system bureaucracies can be difficult to change and frustrating to work with
  • Much less opportunity to work directly with students compared to other jobs in education
  • Most of the job involves reading and writing, which can be frustrating if you want more hands-on work
  • Work can be politicized and highly controversial

Professional development

Professional Associations

Successful education policy analysts often join professional organizations for access to networking opportunities with other public policy professionals.

Best of the web

The internet makes it easy to connect with prominent education policy analysts. Here are some favorites:

Favorite education policy analyst websites and blogs

Favorite education policy analyst Twitter handles

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