Are you enjoying Bright Network?

Policy Officer

Book open Reading time: 6 mins

Do you have a keen eye for detail and safeguarding? Do you enjoy compiling and analysing data to be a leader of change within an industry? If you are a perfectionist who is a skilled writer and communicator, then a career in policy may be for you.

Interested in a career as a policy officer? Explore graduate opportunities in the public sector and government.

What does a policy officer do?

A policy officer is responsible for the research and analysis of data and applying this knowledge to better educate policy changes. This often includes being aware of any impact a policy change may have and communicating this to affected communities. When it comes to policy work, there are different sectors you may specialise in such as local government, charity and the public and private sectors. Your day to day responsibilities may look like this:

  • Gathering data and information
  • Keeping up to date with current social and economical news to best inform others
  • Writing up briefings and speeches to deliver new policies
  • Working across many areas of expertise and consulting with experts
  • Ensuring consistency across all communication
  • Authorising claims and updating electronic systems
  • Planning and attending meetings to discuss policy impact

Policy officer career path

Entry-level

You will often take part in formal on the job training as a part of your graduate learning acting as a policy officer assistant. You will develop skills in research, data compiling, project management and you will learn how to manage the change implemented by policy rollouts. You will shadow a qualified policy officer and aid them in data management as well as any incoming emails or calls. You will delegate what you can address and pass on what you are not qualified to address. Once you have finished your degree and are qualified, you will then be instated as a policy officer on your own merit.

Career progression

Progression as a policy officer can go down one of two routes. You may decide to go into a more focused leadership role, becoming a manager of a team. Alternatively, you may decide to specialise in a particular sector of policy, where your years of experience and interest in a topic will be the most beneficial. Progression within your role as a policy officer will be less about gaining new job titles, but instead about building your experience and slowly taking on more responsibility. Government sectors often encourage the training of their staff, so you will have the opportunities to gain experience across the wider civil service to aid in career path decisions.

Future career

By staying within policy, your chosen subject expertise and further career development will secure you a role as a senior policy officer. As a senior policy officer, you have the opportunity to also become a manager, looking after a team of policy officers and delegating tasks across a broad spectrum of policy and departments. From there you can also take on more senior roles such as Head of Policy where you would manage a whole department and be responsible for strategic planning and company contracts.

As this role has you developing your skills in communication, it prepares you perfectly for a side step into a new sector, such as communications, marketing or public affairs. Routed in the political world, it would also allow you to find work within a local party. Officers in this role provide advice on highly complex and sensitive policy matters that contribute to the department and stakeholder’s strategic policy direction. 

Policy officer salaries

  • As a policy officer assistant, you can expect to earn £22,000 per year.
  • Policy officers can earn anywhere between £25,000 to £30,000 per year.
  • When you have more experience and qualifications, you can go into the role of senior policy advisor, earning between £32,000 and £40,000.
  • As a senior policy officer or policy manager, you can earn upwards of £50,000 per year.

Qualifications & training

The benefit of choosing to become a policy officer is that you do not need specific qualifications to pursue this career. All a graduate needs is an interest in democracy, public policy and the skills we have listed in this article. 

To boost an application, graduates may want to consider having a qualification or degree in relevant subjects, such as Politics, Social Policy and Political Studies.

If you plan to go into a specialist area of policy then a degree in that area may also be beneficial.

The Civil Service Policy Profession offers training in the form of apprenticeships and level-based learning to properly help policy officers develop their skills in a structured way. They will guide you by promoting standards of policy professionals through knowledge sharing across public policymaking and public services. 

You may consider furthering your study by undertaking a Masters or PhD in social policy, study, politics or an area within your specialism. Doing so will allow more career opportunities to open up to you.

As a part of your ongoing development, you should participate in courses, talks and events. Certain opportunities are provided by groups such as the SRA (Social Research Association) or the Institute for Government.

Policy officer skills

  • Research. You must be good at finding and reading analytical data and support, by working alongside a multitude of departments to gather the information you need. You need to be confident in the handling procedures of sensitive information and have accurate data recording skills.
  • Presentation skills. You must be able to clearly present data and analytics you have gathered in a structured and logical order. You must be able to speak confidently and answer industry-specific questions.
  • Problem-solving. Often there may be a problem with current policy that needs evaluating and rectifying. Balancing out evidence and coming up with effective solutions will be crucial in this role. Learn more about creative problem-solvingwith Bright Network Academy.
  • Time management. You should be able to identify where your time is best spent, which policies are time-sensitive and how to react efficiently to policy queries and issues.

Pros and cons of being a policy officer

Pros

  • Variety. This role really allows you to explore sectors you have an interest in and feel you want to make the most change in.
  • Work fulfilment. This role will create change locally and potentially nationally. You will be responsible for analysing the changes your policy will create and creating the most responsible route towards that change.
  • Stimulating. You will work among a broad variety of people/stakeholders across different sectors, researching stimulating topics. 
  • Progression. With the right career development, progression as a policy officer is simple with great benefits.

Cons

  • High pressure. Your work will affect large groups of people and may sometimes have unforeseen impacts. You will need to be able to work well under pressure to resolve high-tension issues.
  • Resource management. You may not always have the resources you need available to you which can cause stress.
  • Constant education. This role will require you to constantly develop and educate in order to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to your knowledge of your chosen sector.

Policy officer work-life balance

Policy officers generally work from 9am to 5pm, mainly in an office setting. There is rarely the need to travel as a policy officer unless your research requires you to attend meetings between offices. Your work schedule is largely your own, making how you spend your time flexible. This often allows for telecommuting or part-time hours depending on your employer and role.

You may be expected to work longer hours should you be coming up to tight deadlines or if meetings are arranged outside of normal work hours.

Policy officer employers

There are many employers looking for talent in entry-level policy officers roles. Most will be government or charity positions. Here are some top companies for you to consider:

Related jobs

Jobs similar to Policy Officer