What is a Lobbyist - Lobbyist Career

Lobbyist Career Overview

If a person has an interest in becoming a Lobbyist as a career, they will basically become a legislative voice for businesses or groups, by speaking to legislators on their client’s behalf. Many Lobbyists act on behalf of special interest groups such as a teachers union, the oil industry, or the AARP, presenting these groups agendas to government lawmakers.

A lobbyist will spend a great deal of time researching issues in order to present solid cases to legislators when bills and laws are being considered. They also work to oppose any pending legislation that would have a negative impact on their clients. A Lobbyist will stay current on what happens in politics, the economy, the culture, and any changes in a particular industry they represent. They also petition congress for funding on behalf of their clients when budget monies are allocated.

Specializations and Places of Work

A Lobbyist may specialize in a particular industry or segment of the population. They may also focus on different groups such as the Catholic Church, or families with children. Some companies hire Lobbyists as employees. The nature of a Lobbyist’s specialty will directly relate to the client they represent. As such, the Lobbyist will be well versed in a particular industry or population.

While a Lobbyist may officially work from an organization or company’s headquarters, they more than likely will spend a great deal of time at the capitol building, meeting with government staff, affairs coordinators, and lawmakers. Being a Lobbyist is about building relationships with these influencers. This will require a Lobbyist to be in close proximity to these key people.

Roles and Duties as a lobbyist

The main role and duty of a Lobbyist is relationship building. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is certainly true for the Lobbyist. Having strong relationships with key political figures can go a long way when a Lobbyist pushes their client’s agenda.

The second primary role and duty of the Lobbyist is researcher. A Lobbyist must spend time becoming familiar with every component of a proposed law that may affect their client. It is their job to be “in the know.”

The third role and duty of a Lobbyist is communicator. The Lobbyist represents the voice of their client. It is vital that a Lobbyist is capable of communicating both clearly and persuasively. A Lobbyist will encourage legislators to vote in favor of their client’s best interests. It is also important that a Lobbyist present the image and agenda of their client in a favorable light.

Lobbyist Education and Training

Many Lobbyists receive a degree in communication, public relations, or political science. While degrees in communication and public relations (PR) will prepare the Lobbyist to handle many aspects of their job, it won’t necessarily help a student understand the political climate they will work in. In this case, a degree in political science with a minor in communications or PR may serve the student better.

Coursework that will help the political science student become an affective Lobbyist will include:

  • Introduction to politics both foreign and domestic
  • Public and persuasive speaking
  • Law and government management and organizational structure
  • History
  • Statistics, data, and research skills

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Lobbyist Salary Information and Job Outlook

Any industry that is impacted by government actions will likely have a Lobbyist speaking on their behalf making this career stable, and the client base broad. While some Lobbyist jobs are volunteer positions, others are viable, well-paid careers. These careers might be in the form of independent contracted work or as a full-time staff member.

According to salary.com, the median pay for a Lobbyist is just under $100,000 a year. In the higher range, especially with bonuses included, a Lobbyist can make as much as $200,000 a year.

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