Typical Job Duties
for Public Policy
• Collect and compile background information on particular
issues, and write summary documents that explain all sides
of the issues.
• Advocate for increased funding for particular programs.
• Write talking points on particular hot topics on short
• Organize conferences or panel discussions where scientific
experts present the latest results in a particular field.
• Inform scientists about the impacts of new or changed
legislation on their research.
• Assess the uses, benefits, and economic impacts of certain
classes of chemicals by collecting and analyzing data on
application methods, effectiveness, and quantities used.
• Interpret laws, regulations, agency policies, and directives
to identify how these regulations may impact potential
• Review documents to ensure that proper technical and
professional procedures were followed and that all
recommendations are in line with applicable statutory,
regulatory, and policy guidance requirements.
• Rising awareness of public policy issues is increasing the
number of opportunities, but competition for available
positions is fierce and may require starting at a junior level.
• An undergraduate degree in a science or public policy or an
advanced degree in science policy. The preferred route is
usually a science degree backed with professional experience,
followed by academic policy training (usually a master’s
• Median annual wage for science policy professionals was
Technical Skills Required
$102,000 (May 2012, Occupational Outlook Handbook).
• Excellent communication skills, both written and
oral, especially under time pressure. You must be
able to convey complex scientific topics, making
them understandable to a general audience without
• Interpersonal skills to build relationships with key people
and diplomacy to work with people with whom you
• Negotiating skills and the confidence to be able to
debate on topics in professional settings.
• Ability to see the big picture and analytical skills to
critically evaluate all sides of an issue (scientific, political,
• Interest in a wide variety of scientific issues.
• Ability to conduct thorough research quickly and to work
February/March 2016 www.acs.org/undergrad • inChemistry