Monitoring and evaluation are important processes that help organizations track and improve the performance of their operations. The two fields have become increasingly important, particularly within the nonprofit and international development sectors, as donors demand to see value for their money.
Evaluation, according to the Canadian Evaluation Society, is the systematic assessment of the design, implementation or results of an initiative for the purposes of learning or decision-making. Both monitoring and evaluation are important management decision making tools and increasingly integral to the design of most projects. Monitoring tends to be short-term and focused on periodic, frequent assessments to ensure projects are on track. Evaluation on the other hand, generally assesses the outcomes and longer term impacts of any given initiative or project.
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialists are mostly employed by governments, non-profits and international development agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Increasingly, however, many private sector organizations are creating similar functions.
On a day-to-day basis, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialists are responsible for designing and implementing research activities, analyzing large datasets, and preparing monthly and quarterly reports to share their findings with senior management and other stakeholders.
The work often involves significant travel. As part of their work, the M&E experts are often required to visit the communities where the project they are assessing is located. M&E experts will be expected to interview community members in the communities where a project is active. Often, depending on the employer’s activities, for example in the case of the USAID, United Nations and the World Bank, the projects are located in developing countries.
Monitoring and Evaluation specialists typically need at least a bachelor degree in economics, statistics, sociology, anthropology, mathematics, or other related fields. M&E specialists often have a strong research background and many usually have PhDs. In addition, several colleges offer specialist training certificates in monitoring and evaluation. A good example is Carleton University’s International Program for Development Evaluation Training.
For anyone considering whether and how to become a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist, typical skills required for the role include expertise in data collection and analysis, knowledge and experience with management information system software, statistical software such as SPSS, Excel, Srata, and data visualization applications (PPT, Prezi, Tableau and others). Good interpersonal, oral and written communications skills are also considered essential. M&E Specialists must have the ability to work with little supervision and a high level of discipline to deliver projects within a specified time frame.
Most M&E experts start out as researchers and gradually make their way up, by taking on increasingly tougher assignments and obtaining more advanced research degrees. However, this is also a field that lends itself to lateral career transfers. Many M&E Specialists tend to transfer from other careers, by leveraging their in-depth specialist experience, in specific industries, such as health, medicine, sociology.
Employment of monitoring and evaluation specialists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, on the back of expanding adoption of monitoring and evaluation practices. Experts who excel in monitoring and evaluation are in high demand, actively recruited by organizations across many industries and development sectors. Demand is expected to remain particularly strong within the international development space, as many international non-profits and donors now require a strong monitoring and evaluation framework as part of their projects.
Job prospects are expected to be good, especially for monitoring and evaluation specialists with international experience. Monitoring and evaluation is an excellent entry point into international development and the non-profit sector. Typical job titles include Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and Monitoring and Evaluation Manager.
Major employers include international development agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and non-profits, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As of this year, monitoring and evaluation specialist salaries generally start out at about $50,000 per year. A Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with 5-7 years’ experience can expect to earn between $69,000 and $100,000 per year. As with other professions, salaries tend to vary depending on qualifications, experience, location, and the particular industry or organization that one works for.
A career as a monitoring and evaluation specialist is a great choice for people with a strong interest in the non-profit sector and in international development.
Are you serious about becoming a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!
Updated January 2017
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