Two government analysts work to prepare a report.

What Skills Are Needed to Pursue a Government Analyst Job?

International Relations

Threats to national and international security come in many forms, from a rogue nation-state seeking to build a nuclear arsenal to cyberattacks on critical government infrastructure and business systems.  To gain insights on threats, leaders at the highest levels of government often turn to government analysts for information. Research and insights from government analysts help leaders enhance the effectiveness of their policies. Programs like an online Master of Arts in International Relations can equip professionals to serve the public in government analyst jobs.

What Is a Government Analyst?

Leaders in government need access to the right data at all times. They also need expert guidance to interpret information to make informed decisions. The government analyst position is born out of these needs.

Government analysts gather, record, analyze, and interpret information pertinent to the agency they represent. They can provide insights and recommendations to senior leaders, enabling them to take appropriate actions. Government analyst jobs take many forms. Examples include federal government analyst, intelligence analyst, research analyst, and public affairs research analyst.

The Skills Needed for Government Analyst Jobs

Government analysts use their skills in interpersonal relations and communication to collaborate with partners in government and industry to obtain information. While their data collection abilities enable them to cull information from multiple sources, analytical and advisory competencies help them make sense of the data and provide recommendations to leaders. Additional competencies include technical skills to work with various information systems and analytics applications.

Students seeking to cultivate the skills necessary to succeed as a government analyst can benefit from obtaining an advanced degree through a program such as Norwich University's online Master of Arts in International Relations. As the nation's first private military college, Norwich University offers a unique approach to preparing students for government analyst jobs. The program offers the following concentrations relevant to various government analyst roles.

  • Cyber Diplomacy—Students interested in international law and cyber warfare may pursue studies in this concentration. Course content covers cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, and cyber activism. Students learn about cyber policy, world politics, and international system law. For students interested in forensics and statistical modeling, the program offers courses in cyber systems.
  • International Development—This concentration takes a deep dive into concepts such as international relations and capital development to enable students to learn about international economies and political systems. The curriculum teaches students about the global economic system, human rights, and globalization. Students are also taught to think critically about international development.
  • International Security—Students in this concentration explore security from global perspectives. They also investigate how foreign policies and politics impact how nations protect themselves in a world increasingly under new and evolving threats. Additionally, students learn about American foreign policy and international peacekeeping strategies such as conflict avoidance, prevention, and containment.
  • National Security—Managing international relations is an essential element of national security. This concentration teaches students the theories and methods behind national-level foreign policies, as well as world politics related to national security. Additionally, the coursework exposes students to U.S. foreign policy, intelligence concepts, and national security policies.

Government Analyst Careers

Insights based on research by government analysts help governments make better decisions and improve outcomes for citizens. Government analysts serve the public in roles such as federal a government analyst, an intelligence analyst, a research analyst, and a public affairs research analyst.

Federal Government Analyst              

A person in this role examines and analyzes governmental programs to suggest improvements for better outcomes. Responsibilities may include conducting cost studies and independent investigations, writing reports, and presenting findings to senior managers. In addition to providing information to guide decision-making, a federal government analyst oversees the development of projects, programs, and policies, and establishes metrics to measure performance.

Government program analysts earn a median annual salary of $64,221, according to PayScale data from September 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of management analysts, including government program analysts, will grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028, compared to 5% for all occupations.

Intelligence Analyst           

An analyst in this field obtains and synthesizes information about security threats. For example, a CIA analyst may examine classified and unclassified information from every available source and provide an analysis to government officials. Intelligence analysts may also work for companies that provide security information services for the government.

Intelligence analysts earn a median annual salary of $68,998, according to PayScale data from September 2019. For the related job category of operations research analyst, the BLS projects 26% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Research Analyst              

A research analyst collects and analyzes information to draw meaningful insights for presentation to decision-makers. These professionals also may conduct personal interviews to quantify findings. In addition to working in government agencies, research analysts are employed in the private sector.

Research analysts earn a median annual salary of $54,719, according to PayScale data from September 2019. According to the BLS, employment for market research analysts is expected to grow by 20% from 2018 to 2028.

Public Affairs Research Analyst               

A public affairs research analyst may work for government agencies, think tanks, and other organizations focused on areas such as defense, health care, energy, or environmental protection. A person in this role applies political, economic, and scientific research techniques to determine the benefits and drawbacks of current and proposed public policies. They advise legislators, government leaders, and industry executives on policy matters.

The median annual salary for public affairs specialists is $61,703, according to PayScale data from September 2019. The BLS projects that employment for management analysts, including public affairs research analysts, will grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028.

Prepare to Become a Government Analyst

As the demand for government analysts grows, individuals interested in the field should consider advanced education to gain specialized skills. Learn more about how Norwich University's online Master of Arts in International Relations program—and its concentrations in Cyber Diplomacy, International Development, International Security, and National Security—can help prepare professionals to advance in their careers as government analysts.

Recommended Readings

How Does a Background in National Security Help You Gain a Government Position?
How to Become a Lobbyist
An Overview of America’s National Security Policy


Intelligence Analysts, FBI Jobs
Master of Arts in International Relations, Norwich University
Average Government Program Analyst Salary, PayScale
Management Analysts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Intelligence Analyst Salary, PayScale
Operations Research Analysts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Market Research Analysts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Careers As a Research Analyst, Houston Chronicle
Average Research Analyst Salary, PayScale
Average Public Affairs Specialist Salary, PayScale


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