Policy analysts gather and analyse information to assist in the planning, development, interpretation and review of government or industrial policies.
Graduate policy analysts usually earn
$47K-$57K per year
Senior policy analysts usually earn
$85K-$150K per year
Source: Department of Internal Affairs, Hays, MBIE, State Services Commission and Treasury, 2018.
Pay for policy analysts varies depending on experience, responsibility, and the organisation they work for.
- Graduate policy analysts usually earn between $47,000 and $57,000 a year.
- Policy analysts with two to five years' experience usually earn between $57,000 and $85,000.
- Policy analysts working in senior positions usually earn between $85,000 and $150,000.
The average yearly pay for policy analysts working in the public sector in 2017 was $97,000.
Policy analysts working in the private sector usually earn a higher salary than their equivalents in the public sector, particularly if they work in an economic or financial role, and have the appropriate qualifications.
Source: Department of Internal Affairs, 2018; Hays, 2018; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2018; State Services Commission, 2018; and The Treasury, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Policy analysts may do some or all of the following:
- identify issues (such as ethical, legal or political problems) to research and analyse
- develop, interpret and review existing policies and legislation
- consult and collaborate with interested parties
- provide advice and recommendations to senior management and government
- prepare speeches, correspondence and Cabinet papers for ministers
- write and present reports.
Skills and knowledge
Policy analysts need to have:
- knowledge of political, economic, social and cultural aspects of New Zealand life
- an understanding of how parliament operates and government policy is developed
- knowledge of legislative processes and the Treaty of Waitangi
- knowledge of research methods.
- usually work regular business hours
- work in offices
- may travel domestically to do research or attend meetings and conferences.
What's the job really like?
How would you describe a typical day as a policy analyst?
"My team and I analyse issues and opportunities for ethnic communities in New Zealand. We provide advice (supported by evidence we've found) to the Minister of Ethnic Communities and other government people. So a typical day involves desk research and meetings with people from organisations whose work also impacts on ethnic communities."
What are some of the challenges you face?
"We can work under some very tight deadlines. It can be difficult to ensure that our advice covers every relevant angle when working under pressure."
What is the best part about the job?
"I believe I do really meaningful work, supporting ethnic communities and the development of New Zealand as a whole."
What advice would you give someone wanting to be a policy analyst?
"Study what you enjoy. Expertise in the public sector comes from a lot of different backgrounds and different fields of study – many paths lead to policy."
What is the best project you've worked on?
"We have been developing a diversity and inclusion framework, which we are hoping will assist other government agencies to understand and value ethnic diversity and inclusion. This means workplaces should be more diverse. It will encourage and ensure responsiveness to ethnic communities in general across the public sector."
To become a policy analyst you usually need to have a Bachelor's degree. Employers will normally consider graduates from a variety of subject areas such as:
- public policy
- social science
- resource management
Employers often prefer candidates to have completed a postgraduate qualification.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include history and classical studies, economics, te reo Māori, geography, social studies, maths and English.
Policy analysts need to be:
- perceptive and inquisitive
- strong communicators
- able to work well in a team
- good planners and problem solvers
- motivated, enquiring and patient
- skilled in analysing and interpreting information
- able to work well under pressure, as they need to meet deadlines.
Useful experience for policy analysts includes:
- building and maintaining relationships with clients
- research and interpreting statistics
- community work
- work in a government agency.
What are the chances of getting a job?
Job opportunities for graduate policy analysts average
Chances of getting work as a policy analyst are average for graduates due to high competition for roles at entry-level.
Graduates may increase their chances of getting a job by gaining experience through internships or voluntary work.
According to the Census, 7,353 policy analysts worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Strong demand for experienced policy analysts
Chances are good for experienced policy analysts due to high turnover, which means vacancies arise regularly. Policy analysts often shift:
- to another part of the public sector, to gain experience
- into the private sector, where they can earn more money.
Major growth of policy analyst jobs restricted by government spending
Government policy analyst salaries are paid using taxpayer funds. This means that when government organisations want to hire more policy analysts, any extra spending must be signed off by top-level managers, which can limit new positions.
However, in June 2018 the Government removed a cap on the number of people that can be employed in the public sector. This may result in more opportunities for policy analysts.
Most policy analysts employed by government
Most policy analysts work for government departments and organisations, but other employers include:
- local authorities (city and district councils)
- private companies
- unions, community organisations and business or interest groups such as Federated Farmers.
- Hipkins, C, Hon, 'Government to Reduce Reliance on Consultants', June 2018, (www.beehive.govt.nz).
- Law, N, policy manager, Department of Internal Affairs, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Sochor, R, talent adviser, The Treasury, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2018.
- State Services Commission, 'Public Service Workforce Data', December 2017, (www.ssc.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ. '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- van de Merwe, P, senior adviser, talent acquisition, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Policy analysts may start off in junior positions before progressing to more senior or management roles. They may also move between the private and public sectors.
Last updated 24 June 2020