How to Become a Public Policy Advisor

Overview & Salaries

Recommended Degree:
The right degree for you to become a public policy advisor depends on the business and industry you apply at. Those looking for an entry positions are likely to need a masters degree from an accredited public policy or political science program. If you are looking for a very junior level political assistant position, then an bachelors degree is recommended. Those looking to get into a competitive or advance position may benefit from earning a Ph.D degree along with significant internship experience.

Launch your career path today by signing up for free information from one of our accredited colleges below that offer programs to help get you started as a public policy advisor.

How Much Does an Public Policy Advisor Make?

$102,000 (median salary, for salaries in your state, click on the “Best Places to Work” tab up top)

Expected Growth from 2012-2020:

+1,400 additional people employed


(all information above provided by the 2012 BLS Political Scientist pages) 

The Best Places to Become a Public Policy Advisor

The median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of political scientists:

Federal government $119,130
Scientific research and development $95,640
Colleges, universities $47,810

Other places:

  • Nonprofits
  • All levels of government
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Homeland security
  • International organizations

Employment and Information Data for Public Policy

Why Become a Public Policy Advisor?

The political landscape in the United States may be in a perpetual state of flux, but employment in the public policy sector remains steady with an expected to job growth of 8% from now until 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  For many, working in public policy it is a way of life.  A way to effect real changes on the local, state and federal level. Public policy makers encompass many roles  from actual politicians, to consultants, to nonprofit organizations, to local activists, lobbyists and other special interest group.

The work greatly varies based on policy focus – clean water, alternative energy, no-more nukes, etc. However, a career in the public policy sector can quickly introduce you to the many power brokers that effect serious change.

Recommended Courses to Become a Public Policy Advisor

  • Introduction to Public Policy Analysis
  • Public Budgeting
  • The Economics of Public Policy Analysis
  • Decision Analysis, Modeling, and Quantitative Methods
  • Financial Modeling for Nonprofit Organizations
  • Alternative Energy: Policy and Politics
  • Introduction to Policy Analysis
  • Introduction to Policy: Identifying and Solving Public Problems
  • Advanced Methods and Approaches of Policy Analysis
  • Social Policy Analysis
  • Qualitative Methods in Policy Research

Degree Options for Public Policy Careers

Many mid-career professions opt for graduate certificate programs designed to introduce them further into a specific specialty. These programs put emphasis on policy analysis and methodology.

Bachelor’s Degree
For entry into most public policy jobs in official capacity at least a bachelor’s degree is required. In addition to basic policy study, students can expect a deeper dive into theory, history and analysis. If you intend to work in one of the many roles available with U.S. Congressman, state politicians or city officials, a bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, public policy, among others is required.

Master’s and PhD 
Public policy makers spend years in their field examining the many sides to each issue. However, before that they spend a several years studying in the class room in either a two year masters or a Ph.D. program. Often these programs can be combined to finish one while working toward the other (PhD). Courses work involves original research and qualitative and quantitative methods in policy research, economic analysis and methods of policy analysis.

Higher level positions often require graduate degrees, and those working for research institutions must often hold Ph.D. degrees.