What is a Foreign Affairs Analyst?

Foreign affairs analysts, also often referred to as international analysts, are experts in one or more areas of international relations, such as foreign policy, international trade, domestic security, developing nations, and domestic security, among others.

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It is the goal of foreign affairs analysts to contribute to their employer’s strategic goals by providing information and analyses related to international labor activities, policies, and programs.

Foreign affairs analysts perform research on issues related to their area of expertise that may impact the policies and positions of governments, humanitarian organizations, and multinational corporations. Their work also includes assisting in the development of plans and policy formation, and analyzing the function of agencies and organizations and their impact on international relations.

Foreign affairs analyses helps nongovernmental organizations, government agencies and private sector corporations alike formulate or revise their policies based on what’s going on in stragegically important parts of the world. Foreign affairs analysts also study the influence and effect of an organization or agency in a specific country or region of the world. This means foreign affairs analysts must be knowledgeable of the history, culture and political system of the country or region of the world they study, and must be up on current events. A nation’s political and business ties are also of key strategic importance when conducting analyses.

Foreign affairs analysts have a deep understanding of how countries relate to each other politically, economically, and diplomatically. As such, they are responsible for managing the political and commercial interests of an organization.

The Job Duties and Key Responisibilities of Foreign Affairs Analysts

The job duties of foreign affairs analysts include:

  • Developing and evaluating issues and initiatives through the study of international policy and standards, overseas developments, and reports
  • Formulating policy or program recommendations on assigned programs
  • Preparing papers and briefing materials
  • Collaborating with foreign counterparts
  • Developing and preparing in-depth analyses of assigned issues at the national, regional, and global levels
  • Assessing and improving program effectiveness related to proposed regulations, legislation or resources
  • Developing research concepts, policy questions, and work plans for papers and reports
  • Identifying and analyzing key trends, policies, and strategies
  • Leading the assembly, manipulation, and analysis of economic data
  • Leading significant analytic and report-writing efforts
  • Identifying, researching, and developing policy recommendations for reports
  • Creating and delivering presentations for research projects

Successful foreign affairs analysts must:

  • Possess excellent writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills
  • Be adept at understanding complex political and socioeconomic information
  • Be able to conduct independent research that is both quantitative and qualitative in nature


The Federal Agencies and Private Sector Industries Where Foreign Affairs Analysts Work

Foreign affairs analysts may work for any number of governmental agencies or multinational corporations, although the largest employers of these international affairs specialists include the following government agencies, all of which support the commercial and diplomatic interests of the U.S.:

  • Foreign Agricultural Service
  • S. Department of State
  • Foreign Commercial Service
  • S. Agency for International Development

They also often work for media outlets, where they serve as liaisons between the media and foreign governments and businesses. In these settings, foreign affairs analysts write briefs related to topics of international significance, which they then supply to the journalists covering such topics. Their work is critical for creating comprehensive, accurate international news content.

How to Become a Foreign Affairs Analyst

Because foreign affairs analysts focus their careers on a specific specialty like global business policies, international economics, regional governments, American foreign policy, trade, and international law, their educational backgrounds may vary.

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However, typical undergraduate degree programs for these international relations professionals include economics, history, international relations, political science, or a related discipline. Many foreign affairs analysts, particularly in senior-level positions, possess graduate degrees, and many have completed law school. Master’s degrees for individuals interested in pursuing foreign affairs analysts jobs often include:

  • Global affairs
  • International relations
  • Foreign policy
  • Economics

Many institutions allow students in one of the above master’s degree programs to specialize their graduate study on a specific geographical area or topic.

Fluency in a second language is also preferable in this field, as is experience working, studying, or living in the country or region of the world in which the analyst specializes.

Many students seek study abroad opportunities during their undergraduate or graduate course of study. Many schools of international relations partner with overseas colleges to provide students with study abroad opportunities.

Earning Potential for Foreign Affairs Analysts

Although broad salary statistics for foreign affairs analysts are not widely available, recent job posts highlight the impressive earning potential of these experts of international relations.

For example, a job for a foreign affairs research analyst with the Department of State reveals a salary range of $89,033 to $115,742.

A job post for a foreign affairs analyst with the CIA reveals a similar salary range of between $50,864 and $118,069.

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