In higher education, the effects of high-level policy decisions greatly impact institutions. The regulations governing how colleges and universities are run and funded are set by state and federal legislators. As such, one of the most meaningful ways to encourage change and guide the direction of education is to take on a policy role, whether within the government or at a lobbying organization.
A career as an education policy analyst can be rewarding if you’ve spent years in other higher education roles, experiencing the present state of the sector and envisioning ways to create positive change. To become an ideal candidate for such a job, you can pursue a graduate-level degree while keeping your full-time job.
What Do Education Policy Analysts Do?
Policy analysts are the primary movers tasked with introducing and adjusting laws and programs affecting their sectors of choice. In higher education, this encompasses the many regulations governing public and private universities, colleges and community colleges.
A 2020 Resilient Educator guide explains education policy analysts perform detailed research on current issues affecting schools, and then test hypotheses on how to improve conditions through legislation. These individuals advocate for their policies of choice, whether they’re working for government agencies or third-party lobbying groups promoting their own concepts to change the way colleges and universities are run.
How Do You Get a Job in Education Policy?
While there isn’t a single set of requirements to pursue careers in education policy, good candidates for these roles will have a strong combination of professional experience and academic credentials directly related to their field. Resilient Educator recommends people have a master’s degree or doctorate to take on such a role, noting hiring managers filling policy positions favor highly educated applicants.
While Resilient Educator indicates people with classroom experience do sometimes take on policy positions, this is not a required stop along the 6- to 10-year career path. You should make sure you understand the way educational policy impacts administrators, faculty and students, as well as the legislative mechanisms by which new regulations are put into place.
While working as a higher education administrator is beneficial, it’s important that your continuing education focuses on present-day educational conditions. Entering a doctoral program in education allows you to gather extensive insights about the ways today’s colleges and universities are governed and finding the points where individual school leadership and public policy intersect. You can enter an online program to study on your own time and continue building job experience while earning your degree.
How Much Can You Earn in Education Policy?
While taking public policy analysis positions is often a case of passion for the subject matter rather than a purely monetary decision, there are opportunities to enhance your salary. PayScale’s overview of the policy analyst role, current through March 2020, finds these professionals earn a median of $58,828. Higher-earning policy analysts, who have put in years in the public sector, can comfortably earn more. The top 10% of people in the role can make over $81,000 annually.
Some areas are more conducive to maximizing earnings as a policy analyst. For instance, PayScale indicates San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C. are the top three cities for this role. In the District of Columbia, analysts are able to lobby the federal government directly and work at agencies such as the Department of Education, making it a hotspot for public sector professionals of all kinds.
Resilient Educator notes the salary range for educational policy analysis positions is on the high end for the field of education, with many of these roles also carrying a full suite of health insurance and retirement benefits. For those willing to put in the hours lobbying for meaningful change, the potential rewards are notable.
How Does an Ed.D. Degree Prepare You for an Education Policy Job?
Earning an Ed.D. is a way to build knowledge directly related to public policy education jobs. Bradley University’s online Ed.D. program connects students directly with expert faculty deeply involved in the world of higher education and an up-to-date curriculum reflecting today’s policies, technology usage and student experience.
Courses such as Boards and Educational Governance and Ethical and Political Foundations of Educational Policy deal directly with the internal and external mechanisms that enact regulations. Financial Affairs in Higher Education deals with the intersection of education finance and policy. National Trends in Assessment, Data Analysis and Accountability helps students perfect their analytical capabilities.
If you are ready to embark on the path to a career in higher education policy, visit the online Ed.D. program page to learn more about this degree.