How to Become a Policy Officer: Australian Careers in Policy and Planning

Any organisation you work for have company-wide policies and procedures that relate directly to the goals and objectives of that government or non-government organisation. For larger companies, a policy officer helps shape the direction of a company by researching and developing guidelines and principles to be followed by its employees. This is done by looking into existing protocols, what similar businesses have done, analysis into what has and hasn’t worked in the past, talking to colleagues and ensuring a high ethical standard before presenting recommendations to senior managerial staff or an executive board.

  • Task Career in focus: What a policy officer does

    A policy maker develops, implements and evaluates the effectiveness of guiding principles and policies for a company. Largely office-based, a policy officer often works with senior staff and other policy workers to ensure compliance with legislation as well as best practice principles. As a policy officer, you may be required to conduct research, seek out feedback from staff and the community, or write briefs and submissions on behalf of your organisation. By ensuring that an organisation has good, sound policy, your role helps your organisation improve on relationships with the community, other businesses and local and national government.

    Tasks:

    • Recommend, implement and measure the success of policies
    • Liaise with internal and external stakeholders
    • Conduct research and consultation processes
    • Make recommendations and write briefs for executive staff
    • Coordinate and organise research and feedback activities
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a policy officer

    As most of your work is based on feedback, research and writing policies, you should have excellent written and verbal communication skills. Having an analytical mind-set, a good policy officer is able to analyse and interpret information to the benefit of your company. You should have a good awareness of the political environment and the ability to be goal-orientated, ensuring your recommendations are in-line with your organisation’s objectives. You should be able to work independently, as well as in a team, and able to effectively negotiate with people at all levels within your organisation.

    Skills/attributes
    • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
    • Well-developed analytical skills
    • The ability to understand and interpret large amounts of data
    • Ability to quickly develop good internal connections
    • Ability to prioritise and organise tasks independently and as part of a team
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within policy and planning

    There are lot of policy officer positions in the public and social sectors, but there are also opportunities available in not-for-profit of large, private organisations.

    Public sector policy officers

    Working in government as a policy officer means you have a huge variety of different roles in various departments available to you. Whether you are passionate about the environment, health, trade, transport, community, defence, Indigenous issues, technology or the arts, there are numerous positions in these departments, working at local, state or national levels.

    Not-for-profit sector policy officers

    If you are passionate about working for a charity or social welfare organisation, policy officers in the not-for-profit sector help write guidelines for community organisations, advocacy groups and social and environmental charities.

    Private sector policy officers

    Large organisations often hire several policy officers in the private sector. You can work for industries such as financial institutions, mining companies, education and tertiary businesses, insurance and other professional services.
  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a policy officer

    Most policy officers will require some sort of university degree, whether it is in arts of another professional, business field. Having a qualification in politics or policy can help you be one step ahead of the crowd.

    Starting Out

    An undergratute degree in art, science, a particular specialisation or political science or public policy. 

    Building Skills

    Many public sector organisations have roles open to new graduates through comprehensive graduate programs with excellent training. 

    Developing Your Resume

    There are courses available to help policy officers refresh or hone skills in areas like government framework or report writing.

    Industry Recognition

    By developing the skills and experience you need, you can gain industry accreditation and take your career to the next level.

    Entering the Workforce

    With your good foundation of education, give your career a push forward and check out our sample resume and cover letter to help you stand out when you apply for policy and planning jobs.

    Job Prospects in Policy and Planning: Working life as a policy officer

    Jobs in policy and planning have only increased moderately over the last five years and the trend is expected to continue over the next few years.

Policy Officer Resources :

As policy officers work in a wide variety of public, private at not-for-profit sectors, there is no “policy industry”. 

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