Project & Program Evaluation Careers are Growing Rapidly
In the last decade, new government policies dedicated to accountability and transparency in spending set the trend for extensive growth in the social science sector across government, nonprofit and commercial organizations. The D.C. area alone is primed for 29 percent job growth, while the rest of the nation still looks forward to a more-than-healthy 19 percent job growth rate.1
American University's real-world coursework prepares you to lead measurement and evaluation efforts in future positions while you connect with like-minded, passionate individuals and make an impact in your current career.
JEFFREY RUTENBECK: AU undoubtedly is a place to help people get to their next level. It's kind of a combination of inspiring and scary, how intense some people can be about where they want to go. And they've shopped around and looked at dozens of programs. And they've found, this is the one that's going to get them where they want to go. And when that match is made, it's a beautiful thing.
JUSTIN SMITH: One of the nice things about the program is that it allowed me to apply directly, the lessons I was learning to the work that I was doing at the time. So that's kind of the advantage of going to school at the same time as working in the same profession that you want to continue in. Is that I was able to immediately apply the lessons and I was learning from the University into my work.
VICKY WILKINS: I think we also do pay attention to what the skills are the students need, and what employers are telling us is critical in the labor market to make sure we do shape an experience that prepares students to go out and work.
JEFFREY RUTENBECK: And this is one of the important things I tell people about going to graduate school, go to a graduate school where you are surrounded by people who have the same level of intensity and interest and passion as you do, because that will be one of the most important networks you will have going forward in your life.
KATIE KRESPAN: I think that I make a difference on an everyday level, but some days I wonder if I could be doing more. So coming back to American really gave me the opportunity, I think, to obtain the skills and the knowledge that I need to make a bigger difference.
The Role of a Program Evaluator
Program evaluators are found in all sectors by many titles, but the core of their positions involves providing insight and change recommendations after careful analysis of: programs, products, personnel, policy, performance, proposals, technology, research, theory, and even evaluation itself. They answer questions such as:
- How did the program perform?
- How was investment money spent?
- What modifications would make the program stronger?
Through data and cost-benefits analysis, interviews, observations and focus groups, they determine if programs and projects are efficient and a good use of financial and personnel investments. Given the job growth rate of the industry, the few who qualify for these positions find they can take their pick of sector and career while receiving top dollar for their services.
The Many Titles of Program Evaluators — Which One Appeals to You?
American is proud to note that 92 percent of our graduates move into careers or graduate studies within six months. Read below to get a snapshot of the possible careers and salaries you can pursue with your online MS in Measurement and Evaluation degree from American.
- Social & Community Service Managers
Social and community service managers implement and supervise programs designed by administrators, elected officials, or other stakeholders, and are often expected to demonstrate effectiveness to those who fund them. To do so, they’ll collect statistics, and use evaluations to identify areas that need improvement for programs to be more effective, such as providing mentorship and assessments for their staff. The median annual salary for this profession is $64,680, though the top 10 percent earned, on average more than $100k.2
- Emergency Management Directors
Emergency management directors are responsible for keeping their community safe in the event of disasters and states of emergency, such as a public shooting. In addition to drafting plans and people for response efforts, they coordinate shared resources, prepare and analyze damage assessments following an event, and report on funds and revise emergency plans as necessary. Their median wage comes in at $70,500, though the top 10 percent average nearly double that with a median salary just over $133k.3
- Operation Research Analysts
Operation research analysts are predicted to have the fastest growth rate on this list — 30 percent through 2014 — four times that of the national average. Though their median salary is $79,200, those in the top pay range average more than $133K a year.4 Typically, operations analysts are involved in all the day-to-day aspects of an organization. They work to first identify and understand the problem at hand or the process can be improved, then provide a course of action to reach the desired goal. Through their careful research, they help managers decide how to allocate resources, manage a supply chain, set pricing, or even how to display products in a store to improve the bottom line.
- Operation Managers
The operation manager is an executive role that demands years of industry and evaluation experience. In this senior position, you’ll formulate policy, manage daily operations, and plan how materials and personnel are best used to increase efficiencies. Executives are reported to earn an average of $122,090, but the top-paying fields of: Oil and gas extraction, financial investment activities, monetary authorities central-bank, insurance and benefit funds, and securities and commodity exchanges pay, on average, between $187k and $204k.5
- Urban & Regional Planners
Urban and regional planners is an umbrella term for a number of titles that contribute to how a community’s physical space is developed or conserved to best serve it. Together, these planners: Land use and code enforcement, transportation, environmental and natural resources, economic development, and urban design, advocate the best use of a community’s land and resources for residential, commercial, industrial, educational, and recreational purposes. Their median wage is $70,020 a year, with those in the top 10% earning more than $105k.6 However, the median wage in the top three sectors of the federal executive branch, nonresidential building construction, and lessors of real estate, bring home an annual median wage between $94k and $136k.7
- Management Analyst/Consultant
Many management analysts, who are also most recently known as evaluation consultants, work either independently or as part of a consulting firm. They often specialize in a departments or industries, such as corporate structure, supply chains, inventory, or healthcare and finance. Their job growth rate is on the rise at 14 percent8, double the national average. Their goals are to develop solutions or alternative procedures to improve efficiencies, making their recommendations to their contact manager. On average, management analysts earn an average of $81,330 a year, but those in the top 10 percent earned more than $144k.8
- Market Research Analysts
Market research analysts positions are growing at nearly triple the national average at 19 percent9. These analysts map their company’s foothold in the industry and work to improve it. This involves research and analysis of competitors as well as their target market. Through data analysis and evaluation, and using statistical techniques and software, they’ll interpret what data means for their client, forecast future trends, and recommend pricing strategies, new audiences, and go-to-market strategies. Their median salary is $62,560, and over $70k in the management of companies and enterprises, but those in the top 10 percent earn more than $122k a year.9
- Top Executives
This all-encompassing title refers to CEOs, COOs, as well as mayors, city managers and county administrators. In short, these high-ranking professionals focus on formulating policy and strategic plans for the entire organization or community they serve. With their extensive experience, their median salary is $103,950, but the top-five paying industries: Securities and commodity contracts intermediations and brokerage, taxi and limousine services, textile furnishing mills, computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, and other investment pools and funds, all earn an average of over $254k.10
- Program Analyst
The goal for a program analyst is to improve effectiveness with a thorough evaluation that starts with identifying weaknesses in current programs then suggesting improvements that companies can implement. They’ll use advanced qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as interviews in their evaluations and to support their recommendations. Their annual median salary is $79,372.11
Career Assistance for Immediate Success
We pair this strong, experiential program with the power of American University’s career center which offers valuable online resources to students and alumni such as:
- Career counseling
- Job search resources, including AU Career Web, our online career-search tool
- Internship resources
- Online networking
Resources and Citations
1Carnevale, Anthony, et al. (June 2013). Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
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