Any organization – whether public or private – without an effective policy making and strategic planning mechanism will find it difficult to operate optimally. Policy and planning managers are responsible for formulating organizational policies and developing short-term and longer-term plans. If you are good at collecting and analyzing information, and you can think strategically, this is a career that could interest you.
1. What Do Policy and Planning Managers Do?
Their duties include:
- Analyzing an organization’s goals and objectives to develop strategies that can help it to reach them
- Analyzing an organization’s activities or operations
- Developing policies that can support these operations
- Conducting periodic policy reviews and making necessary adjustments to meet changing organizational or public needs
- Briefing an organization’s top leadership on the impending policy changes
- Implementing new policies and educating an organization’s workforce (or the public) on the changes
- Ensuring organizational policies don’t violate any legal provisions
- Participating in policy research projects
- Representing the organization in conferences, seminars and other industry events
- Supervising policy researchers, junior planners and policy analysts.
2. Work Environment
This is a typical 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday job. The policy and planning managers work in a standard office environment where they perform most of their duties.
Expect to travel occasionally, particularly to attend conferences.
According to Indeed, policy and planning managers earn an average annual salary of $65,000.
4. Entry Requirements
It takes the right education and professional experience to be hired as a policy and planning manager. Although you can get started with a bachelor’s degree in any field, it is important to pursue a degree in a discipline that matches your preferred industry. For example, if you wish to work in the health industry as a health policy and planning manager, then you are better off pursuing a degree in health administration or a closely related field.
If you are not sure of the industry in which you could like to work, then a pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public policy can give you a solid foundation. The program is multidisciplinary, meaning you will learn to analyze the political, economic, cultural and psychological implication of public policies.
Examples of schools offering this program include:
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia
- Duke University, North Carolina
- University of Virginia, Virginia
Upon graduation, you will certainly find employment in an entry-level position, such as policy researcher or analyst. Use the position to gain experience worth a good number of years.
5. Career Development
With a bachelor’s degree and some experience in policy research or analysis, you may be promoted to the position of policy and planning manager – if there aren’t any candidates with better qualifications!
To make yourself the best candidate for the job, earn a master’s degree in policy analysis or strategic planning.
You should also secure membership in the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management to access industry publications, training workshops and conferences.
If you are ambitious enough, pursue a doctoral degree in policy studies.
6. Important Qualities
To succeed as a policy and planning manager, you need:
- Excellent analytical skills
- Strong planning skills
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Strong critical thinking skills
- Strong research skills
- Sound judgment (good decision-making skills)
- Good communication skills
- Good presentation (public speaking) skills
- Good teamwork skills
- A good instinct for what needs reassessing
- A good understanding of regulations governing a particular industry (such as health regulations)
- Project management skills
- Good organizational skills
- Computer skills.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of policy and planning managers include:
- Federal and state government departments
- Federal and state agencies
- Policy research institutes
- Advocacy networks
- Professional associations
- Consulting firms and other private businesses.
With vast experience as a policy and planning manager, you can advance to become a director of policy and planning in a federal government department. Those who pursue a doctorate typically move into academia, where they become professors of policy analysis.
Finally, the vast majority of policy and planning management jobs are available in the public sector, since in the private sector policy analysis and planning is a preserve of operations managers. This means employment opportunities are limited, and you should expect to face some competition for jobs. If things get tough in the public sector, you can easily move into the private sector and establish a policy research and consulting firm.
So if you would love to shape policies that are created and implemented by various public agencies, then you should strive to become a policy and planning manager.