Members of legislatures need accurate information on a wide variety of subjects in order to make good policy. Legislative analysts provide data and analysis on any subject requested by members of the legislative body for whom they work. Legislative analysts are generally divided into budgetary analysts and policy analysts, but both areas are quite broad and can involve research on topics ranging from the economic costs or benefits of specific pieces of legislation to the impact of a proposed oil or gas pipeline on endangered species. Nearly all legislative analysts have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have earned one or more graduate degrees.
Complete a bachelor's degree program in the field of your choice. Although many legislative analysts have a background in political science or public policy, others have degrees in the social sciences, accounting or finance.
Undertake a public policy or budget analysis internship in your senior year or after you graduate. Getting some practical experience through an internship can be a big help in your job search, both in terms of employers preferring candidates with experience and in the networking opportunities you have with internships. Internships can be quite competitive, so you will likely need a high GPA and good references to land one.
Make an effort to develop your personal and professional networks while you are still in school or during your internship. Working with/for elected officials means that legislative analyst positions are inevitably political to some extent, so who you know can be just as important as what you know in landing a job.
Apply for entry-level legislative analyst positions at the state and local level. It's easier to break in as a legislative analyst locally, and you can always move up to the federal level when you've got a few years of professional experience as an analyst.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OOQ -- Policy Analysts -- Shaping Society Through Research and Problem Solving
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OOH -- Budget Analysts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OOH -- Political Scientists
- Snohomish County: Snohomish County Job Description Legislative Analyst
- Eduers.com: Staff Analyst
- Participate in student government or become an active member of a political party and/or a campus political organization while you are in school. Student government is an ideal place to cut your political chops and another opportunity to expand your network.
- Consider going back to school to get a master's degree or even a doctorate if you are interested in moving up to more senior legislative analyst positions.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.