On the grandest palindrome and ambigram day of 2022, I am pulling two FAQs from my various evaluation presentations.
1. Are there any specific academic qualifications needed to become an evaluator?
It depends! However, I would like to emphasize that since evaluation requires a fair amount of data collection both on and off field, data cleaning, coding, analyses, interpretation, presentation, and report writing—most of the time customized to clients’/stakeholders’ needs—having some prior training and field experience in developing research questions, logic models, applying research methods—both qualitative and quantitative and having an understanding and application of statistics is helpful.
(Not having a lot of ) Prior knowledge doesn’t mean that you won’t or can’t learn new things on the job. We all do. By the same token, not having any/all of the above qualifications and abilities prior to your first evaluation job is not a deterrent to getting a job; it just means you may have a learning curve.
There are several opportunities to learn on the job by:
a) Attending in professional development opportunities
b) Grant writing sessions and/or
c) Learning a new software tool.
But, having basic educational training in research methods applications and data analyses is a huge plus and makes it easier to get work done.
I can’t emphasize this enough, but reading on evaluation theories and how to apply them within the scope of an evaluation study is essential.
As evaluators, we write a lot of reports. Therefore, developing a good report that is both meaningful and results in actions on part of the client can be attained via practice and experience.
As an agriculture grad, what has helped me as an evaluator, is taking a more realistic point of view of evaluation processes by assessing the contexts and mechanisms as well as conducting evaluation with a more scientific bend of mind.
2. How do I find my first evaluation job?
The simple answer is look around for opportunities. Here are a few ways:
a) The AEA’s Career Center is a great place to start
b) LinkedIn has evaluation groups
c) Engage on Twitter. Interact with evaluators, get in touch with them.
d) Idealist is another site to look for non-profit evaluation jobs
e) There are other associations that post ads for evaluation/applied jobs (e.g., APA, SREE, NORC, etc)
f) There are several research and evaluation consulting firms. Do a general search and you will be surprised to find what shows up.
g) Then, there are Indeed and other commercial websites that may advertise jobs. When applying via commercial sites, it may make sense to use search terms like “data analyses, surveys, evaluator, research, data collector, etc.” to cast a wider net.
h) If you get an opportunity, you may also consider working as a consultant for individuals or firms on a part-time basis to learn about the field of evaluation. Side gigs are great resume and confidence builders.
Always be curious. And be a sponge.