Career paths in Monitoring & Evaluation

Studying M&E and related topics can lead to a range of potential career options. You may have a calling to address a specific issue, perhaps relating to health, or education, and thus your choice of study, first job and career path may involve becoming a specialist in a specific sector. Alternatively, if your interest in on the science, or social science behind our understanding of human systems, you may find a more technical career path better suited to you. The benefit of a career in M&E is precisely it’s applicability across a range of areas of work and study. The following are some of the main positions or pathways followed by M&E practitioners.

M&E Analyst; Data Analyst; M&E Associate

Description: For Careers directly related to M&E, taking a position as an M&E Analyst or M&E Associate will allow you to hold the M&E function for a specific organisation or project. Analyst positions are usually more technical, whereas associate or manager positions may involve heading up a team of technical M&E analysts, or developing a base of M&E project work (depending on if you’re working directly for a project, or at a consultancy). These positions are likely to require some on-paper M&E qualifications, or formal experience in the field.

Qualifications: These are frequently entry-level positions in the M&E field, with a pathway toward more managerial roles. Holding a social science degree with some additional M&E courses, or courses in data analysis will be sufficient to commence on this career path.

Salary: Salaries vary substantially depending on the organisation and field. A junior analyst focusing more on the day-today monitoring and information management can expect an average of around $38 700 per annum, while a senior M&E analyst, who is likely building systems, and conducting evaluations can earn $90 500, or more per annum according to GlassDoor.com.

Recommended Courses:
Planning for Monitoring and Evaluation – Philanthropy University

 M&E Specialist (Advisory /Consulting)

Description: If you choose the consultancy route, rather than an M&E position within a programme team, you may find that as your experience and exposure grow, an advisory position will for your skillset. This is not unlike management consulting for business analysis or strategic advisory services, except that is relates directly to monitoring and measuring impact.

Qualifications: These positions will usually require a masters level qualification in the social sciences, as well as extensive exposure to the field of M&E at the strategic level.

Salary: Salaries are roughly in line with management consulting salaries. The difference in that there are fewer pathways in for new graduates and some experience will be required. According to caseinterview.com, management consultant salaries can start at around $ 83 500 per annum at the entry level, with salaries as high as $175 000 at the management level in top tier firms. In development contexts, and without large funders, salaries may be substantially less as you build a portfolio. It is important to remember that if you’re freelancing and determining your daily rate, that you need a keep a few days a month for proposal writing and reviews!

Recommended Courses:
Monitoring and Evaluation – ITC-ILO

Evaluator

Description: If you enjoy writing reports, and fact-finding missions, then working as an evaluator might be the right career path for you. Learning all there is to know about evaluations, the different types, and when to use them, is key if you intend to work as an evaluator. Usually, these positions would also sit within consultancies, as many organisations require external evaluation to verify their on-going M&E work. Knowing when people require a process, or impact evaluation, and whether to use a developmental or a summative approach, for example, will be key to writing good applications and running accurate and sound evaluations.

Qualifications: A formal masters level qualification in M&E practice, or a related masters with experience in and extensive knowledge of the field is usually required for evaluator positions.

Salary: According to PayScale, evaluators earn, on average, from $43 000 at the entry level to $ 89 000 at more senior levels.

Recommended Courses:
Project Monitoring and Evaluation – American University
Survey Data Collection and Analytics – University of Maryland
Impact Evaluation Methods with Applications in Low and Middle Income Countries – Georgetown University
Evaluating Social Programmes – MIT

Grant Manager

Description: Holding a position as grant manager can be an excellent career step for many. These positions, usually within major philanthropic donor organisations, trusts, or funds can we very rewarding. In a grant manager position, you will use your M&E skills to analyse the strategy and potential for impact of projects applying for funding. As they are selected and your organisation begins to fund them, you may do some capability building within the beneficiary organisations as you guide them on how best to monitor their work as they report to you, the donor. These positions can be rewarding where grant managers can really begin to see the impact of the support provided, by helping to build M&E skillsets at the grassroots level.

Qualifications: These positions usually require a minimum of a masters degree, but in any of a number of social science disciplines. Once again, industry experience is key to being able to make sound judgements about grant funding awards.

Salary: According to Glassdoor.com, grants manager salaries average at around $60 000 per annum, within a broad range. At the top end, salaries are at around $75 000 per annum

Recommended Courses:
Project Monitoring and Evaluation – American University
Evaluating Social Programmes – MIT

Researcher or Academic – Social Science

Description: Much of what we learn as we study M&E is really the cutting edge of social science. Whether it is trying to quantify and analyse behaviour to create change, or in understanding how to measure complex issues this all involves careful consideration of how qualitative and quantitative research methods combine to tell a story about a change we see or hope to see. An academic career may be of interest if you enjoy analysing the theoretical aspects of programme design, or development practice.

Qualifications: Any social science undergraduate degree can lead to a career in Academia. Strong options for a future in social science include Economics, M&E and International Relations

Salary: According to Indeed, professors in the UK can expect to earn around 67 000 GBP ($87 000) per annum. These posts however are difficult to come by, and require high levels of participation in terms of research and teaching outputs.

Recommended Courses:
Project Monitoring and Evaluation – American University
Survey Data Collection and Analytics – University of Maryland

Data and Information Management Specialist

Description: Managing and ordering information, and building systems to achieve this, is critical for the strategic management of programmes in order to measure impact. Although a more technical aspect to the field of M&E, this is an ideal career path for those with skills in IS, IT, and data analytics. These skills, coupled with analytic skills in social science studies, are a powerful specialisation.

Qualifications: Socials sciences with statistics and IS.

Salary: According to Payscale, the median annual salary for a data and information management specialist is around $40 000 per annum. However, if you’re coupling managing the data with using it to evaluate, and provide strategic advice, your role would likely become more valuable to any programme or organisation.

Recommended Courses:
Theory of Change for Development – University of the Witwatersrand WitsX
Survey Data Collection and Analytics – University of Maryland

Director: MERL, MEL, MERL-TECH

Description: As the field becomes more integrated, we begin to see positions advertised as pertaining to monitoring and evaluation, with research and learning, and particularly enabled by technology. These kinds of positions are not unlike the M&E positions outlined above, but these will usually require some understanding of Dev-Tech, information systems, and strategy. If you’re passionate about developing behaviour-changing apps to improve livelihoods, developing remote learning platforms and studying how their use changes outcomes; or creating global maps of information against key indicators, consider a MERL career.

Qualifications: A formal qualification in M&E at masters level, or a social science masters with additional M&E courses or experience. Anything to do with Innovation, Social Impact, or Dev-Tech

Salary: Salary levels for more cutting edge and advanced M&E positions are not unlike that of M&E specialists outlines in point 1 above, specialist salaries in point 2. However, if you’re developing a big idea, and raising money for a game-changing social enterprise rooted in sound M&E and developmental design, this could be quite different.

Recommended Courses:
Theory of Change for Development – University of the Witwatersrand WitsX

Public Health – Epidemiology and M&E

Description: With a rise in Health-tech, as well as in health-related issues, there is also a growing set of opportunities for people who understand how to use epidemiological data to create solutions to a new era of social problems. If your particular interests lie in health, and big data, then this might be the best option for you. Epidemiological M&E could be somewhat more stimulating for those who prefer objective science, to the more subjective socio-behavioural aspects of M&E.

Qualifications: In order to work as an epidemiologist in an M&E and data analytic capacity, you’ll likely need a post graduate specialisation in epidemiology, as well as qualifications in statistics or data science. You might choose a public health degree, coupled with a stats major.

Salary: Medical Scientists can expect an average salary of around $70 000 per annum, with the upper bound being closer to the $90 000 mark.

Recommended Courses:
Data Science – Harvard-X
Epidemiology in Public Health Practice Specialisation – Johns Hopkins University