It’s vital for anyone to find a career that they love, and entering a position that offers above average salaries as well as good professional benefits and solid personal rewards is important. The field of public health policy analysis is one option that allows you to enter the medical field without delivering hands on care, and could have a huge impact on your future – for the better.
But becoming a public health policy analyst will take time and commitment. It’s important to know more about the position before you commit to it, and as such you’ll want to know more about what it involves, what it requires, and what you’ll need to do to get there. Keep reading to find out more about this rewarding career.
What Is a Public Health Policy Analyst?
A public health policy analyst is a policy analyst who specializes in the public health field. These professionals focus on evaluating current policies targeting the health of the public and on how they can be improved. It’s a position that is usually government based, though nonprofit groups and even health organizations may also employ a policy analyst.
Common job duties include:
- Gathering and analysis of data to understand the overall effectiveness of current health policies and identify any problem areas.
- Assessing health care initiatives to determine cost/benefit ratio, overall program effectiveness, and more.
- Assisting in the development of new strategies and policies that can modify or improve upon existing policies in a way that leads to improved results.
- Consulting with other health professionals and policy makers to develop the best possible initiatives and programs for the public in general.
Public health focuses on improving overall wellbeing by improving education, prevention, and healthy lifestyle changes. The policy analyst looks at existing policies and works on improving them or developing new ones.
A few personal traits can have a big impact on your ability to thrive as a public health policy analyst. While your training, education, and experience will help as well, there is no denying that the following personal characteristics will likely help just as much.
- Good Math Skills – Gathering and reviewing data is a major part of the job, and as such you’ll need to have solid math skills.
- Strong Critical Thinking – Looking at information and using it to make decisions about how to change policy requires strong critical thinking skills. Being able to look at data and make decisions based on it is a big role in this position.
- Good Communication – You won’t be able to simply snap your fingers and enact changes. Instead, you’ll have to discuss your findings with policy makers. Good communication skills are vital.
Nature of the Work
The average day in the life of a public health policy analyst involves a lot of office work. Gathering data, analyzing it, and using the information to start drafting potential changes or possible new policies will be the majority of a work week. Meeting with policy makers, creating reports, and disseminating information will make up most of the rest of your time. As such, those entering the field should expect to spend time in an office and in meetings.
Jobs are available in government agencies for the most part, though some positions exist in nonprofit organizations and professional associations.
Education and Training
Entering this field is a bit more variable than some other positions. That’s because holding a degree in fields like public health, social policy, law, or even economics may qualify one for a position in the field. However, in general a Master’s degree in either public policy, public health, or social policy will be required. Along with the degree, most applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have knowledge and even experience working in federal and state health policy areas.
Today, the Affordable Health Care Act has a big impact on the field of public health and a preference is usually given to those who have knowledge related to it and to insurance coverage in general.
Salaries vary widely and it is difficult to assign a specific average to the pay due to this fact. In general, $60,000 is the average salary for those entering the field but your specific pay will depend on position, employer, experience, education, and much more.