What a career in evaluation looks like

There is no one way to build a career in evaluation. The field is highly adaptable with many job opportunities across various industries and sectors. This flexibility allows people to enter evaluation from many directions and align their career trajectories with their passions and interests.

Career entry points

There are many ways to start a career in evaluation. Do you recognize yourself in any of these examples?

  • Some people begin with formal education in fields like public health, social sciences, education, or environmental studies. They earn degrees and certifications that provide a solid foundation in methodologies and practical skills that can be applied in evaluation.
  • Others transition into evaluation from careers in education, health care, business, or social work. They bring valuable insight and expertise to evaluations related to these sectors.
  • Still others discover evaluation within their existing roles, such as program managers or project staff tasked with answering questions about the effectiveness and impact of their programs. They can naturally transition into evaluation and use their program knowledge to inform evaluation practices.
  • Professionals in policy analysis and development might evaluate the impact of policies they help create. They bring their understanding of policy frameworks and outcomes to the evaluation process.
  • Business analysts, management consultants, and corporate strategists often enter evaluation from within the corporate sector, transferring their strategic analysis, communication, and performance measurement skills.
  • Starting directly in evaluation is also a viable path. This approach typically involves pursuing targeted education and training in evaluation methodologies, combined with practical experience gained through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions in evaluation firms or relevant organizations.

Finding your place in evaluation

Finding your footing in the evaluation ecosystem can be challenging. You are part of a complex system of organizations, institutions, and stakeholders involved in the practice and use of evaluation at the local, national, regional, and global levels. Actors are interconnected and contribute to the overall health and functionality of the evaluation field.

Key roles in monitoring and evaluation include:

People who do monitoring and evaluation

  • Evaluation consultants provide evaluation services to a variety of clients, offering expertise across multiple projects and sectors. These evaluators often collaborate with a team of professionals to deliver comprehensive evaluation solutions. They may be based at a consultancy firm, or at a university or think tank, where they might provide services as part of a research project, or they might work as independent consultants.
  • Evaluation, monitoring, and M&E officers work within organizations to plan, execute, and manage internal M&E activities.
  • Technical advisors provide specialized knowledge and expertise in areas, such as environmental impact, gender equality, economic development, or specific methodologies or topics to support comprehensive evaluations.
  • Data scientists and analysts specialize in processing and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data collected during evaluations, providing critical insights for reports and recommendations.
  • Community members are often engaged in evaluation processes to ensure that the perspectives of those directly affected by programs are considered. This participatory approach can enhance the relevance and impact of evaluations, while also strengthening the capacity of community members who may have their own evaluation career ambitions.
  • Project staff and managers are often involved in evaluation processes by providing essential data, insights, and feedback, or by working on or leading evaluations directly. They often integrate M&E data into their workflow, using it to monitor progress and make evidence-informed decisions to improve processes and outcomes.

People who manage or commission monitoring and evaluation

  • Commissioners are those who commission evaluations and oversee the process, including preparing terms of reference documents (often called TORs) and ensuring evaluations meet the needs of their organizations and stakeholders.
  • Evaluation managers manage the planning and implementation of evaluation projects, facilitate coordination among various stakeholders, and ensure timely delivery of evaluation outputs.

People who strengthen M&E systems

  • Evaluation capacity development specialists promote capacity strengthening across M&E systems, including for government and academic institutions, development agencies, and civil society.   They do this by encouraging education and research in evaluation practice, helping to implement evaluation functions and structures in organizations, strengthening the participation of civil society in evaluation processes and promoting networking and exchange among actors.
  • Educators and trainers educate and train others in the design, methods, approaches, and other key aspects of evaluation. They contribute to the field by building the next generation of evaluators and expanding evaluation capacity.
  • Researchers often explore topics related to evaluation, such as methodologies, approaches, and criteria, among others. They contribute to the academic and practical knowledge base of the field.
  • Knowledge managers oversee the collection, storage, and dissemination of evaluation knowledge within an organization, ensuring that lessons learned are accessible and utilized.
  • Communications specialists ensure that evaluation findings are effectively communicated to a broad audience, including stakeholders, policymakers, and the public.
  • Advocates and champions promote the importance of evaluation in various sectors. They work to ensure that evaluation practices are valued and integrated into decision-making processes. This can include people who work in evaluation associations and societies as well as people in organizations or agencies who may or may not work directly in evaluation, but who internally champion it.

People who use monitoring and evaluation information

  • Policy advisors use evaluation findings to inform and shape policy decisions, ensuring that evidence-based practices are implemented at various governmental and organizational levels.
  • Project and program managers can integrate M&E data into their workflow to monitor progress and make data-driven decisions to improve program outcomes.
  • NGO and civil society workers can also apply M&E findings to improve the effectiveness of their initiatives and demonstrate impact to donors and stakeholders.
  • Strategic planners often rely on evaluation data to inform strategic planning processes, helping organizations set and achieve long-term goals.

This content section is currently under development and has been released in beta mode. We welcome any feedback or suggestions for additional resources and examples - please get in touch via the contact form!