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Steps to Become a Politician

Do you have an interest in government and in making things better, either in your local community or on a state or national level? Regardless of the type of politician you aspire to become, if you want to be a politician in the United States, you should follow these steps:


How to Become a Politician By State

Choose from the state list below to learn more about political science careers and education within the state.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Step 1: Earn Your Degree

While it is possible to get into politics without having a degree, voters will be more inclined to vote for you if you hold a degree. Having even an undergraduate degree tells voters that you are knowledgeable on current events and political structure. The best place to start is by enrolling in a college or university with a Bachelor's in Political Science degree program. This type of program will give you a good foundation in the basics of government and politics. When you graduate, you will be well prepared to take the next step in your journey to becoming a politician.

UNC school of government

Step 2: Become Visible in Your Local Community

Before hitting the larger national stage, you must be seen in your local community so that voters will recognize your name. You should volunteer for local committees and boards, join the local chapter of your preferred political party, and generally help out in your local area. This way, voters will know who you are when it comes time to run for office. Volunteering for local government agencies or organizations is another great way to show that you care about your community, not merely about getting paid.

Step 3: Practice Public Speaking at Local Events

how to become a politician
Now that your name is out there in your local community, hone your public speaking skills. Speak at local organized events, whether or not they are considered political gatherings. In addition to speaking in front of larger groups, start speaking to strangers you see around town. Being a good communicator is a large part of becoming a good politician.

Step 4: Research the Requirements

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for those who wish to run for elected office. Depending upon the office you wish to hold, go to your local City Hall, state capital, or county offices and request a list of written requirements for becoming a politician there. You may also discover that you need to have a petition with a certain number of constituents' signatures in order to get your name on the next election ballot. This is the time to get started in getting those names down so that you can take pride in seeing your name on the ballot when the next election rolls around.

Step 5: Start Small

Even if you dream big, start small. Don't run for President, for example, without first holding a position in your state government. Likewise, you shouldn't run for a state office until you've held a local position. Politics is all about working your way up the ladder. If you are a success in a lower office and prove to voters that you work hard and keep your campaign promises, it will be much easier to be elected to a higher office down the road.

Step 6: Develop Your Election Campaign

Regardless of the type of office you wish to hold, you still need to get the word out to your constituents about who you are and what you stand for. This requires a campaign, which needs money to function properly. Arrange to have brochures printed that contain your photo, a bit about your background, and your agenda and goals if elected to this office. Solicit donations from friends and family to begin with, then knock on doors, handing out brochures, and ask for the support of voters on election day. Distributing brochures at public events is another way to get your name and information in the hands of the voters.

Step 7: Accept the Outcome

Sometimes even the most well-planned, well-funded, and organized election campaigns fail to get you elected. Whatever the outcome of the election, accept it gracefully, knowing that you can move on from here. Challenge yourself and prepare to run again in the next election, either for the same office or for another office that interests you. Above all, don't give up. Politicians must have stamina, backbone, and tenaciousness in order to succeed in politics.