How to Become an Political Consultant

Career Overview

A politician consultant, or “political consultant,” is a person who offers communication and public relations advice to public figures, including politicians, and CEOs, as well as nonprofit groups, and private businesses. Some may call political consultants “spin doctors” as they take any public situation, and present it in a way that creates a positive spin for their client’s image.

Politician consultants are often called upon during a political campaign to ensure that any publicity is handled in a positive manner. They work closely with campaign managers, campaign staffers, politicians, journalists, and other media. They are also called upon to review any advertising, interviews, speeches, and other public presentations related to their client so that the client’s image will portray the proper message.

Specializations and Places of Work

Campaign or corporate headquarters is the most likely base for a politician’s consultant to work from. This does not mean they will work out of the office every day, however. The consultant will often travel--both with the client they represent, and with other staff members. They make public appearances around the country on behalf of the client.

A politician consultant specializes in media relations, communication, and fundraising. If they work strictly with politicians, they will have a strong understanding of the political system. Others may specialize in corporate consulting. If this is the case, they may specialize in marketing, international relations, or business.

Roles and Duties as a Politician Consultant

The role of a politician consultant focuses on public relations, fundraising, and campaign consulting. They will oversee public appearances and advise their client on what to wear, what to say, and how to act. The goal for the political consultant is to present their client in a way that encourages the public to vote or approve the candidate.

Political consultants for nonprofit groups and private businesses will take on similar roles. A nonprofit organization relies on donations and as such, must present their case in a manner that convinces donors to support their cause. A political consultant’s job is to create a public image that meets this goal. Private businesses want to increase their customer base, and create customer retention. A politician consultant will be responsible for a business’ public image to help meet that goal
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One other duty of the politician consultant is damage control. If a business has a product failure or a nonprofit is found misusing funds for instance, the consultant steps in to mitigate negative publicity. The same is true for a smear campaign on a politician. The political consultant is there to thwart these attacks and minimize the damage.

Education and Training

There isn’t a particular degree that is required for the political consultant. There are degrees that will better prepare a student for the job, however. Many politician consultants who specialize in business or nonprofits may earn a degree in communications, business, writing and journalism, or public relations. Political consultants who focus on consultations for politicians would benefit by pursuing a political science degree with added coursework in public relations.

One of the keys to training is experience. While a student earns their degree, they are well advised to spend as much time as possible volunteering or interning in a political campaign or with a nonprofit. The hours spent in the field allows a student to get first-hand knowledge of what takes place during a publicity or political campaign. It also begins to build relationships, a key aspect of this career.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The job outlook for political consultants is good according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The politician consultant’s salary varies based on experience and clients. Entry-level political jobs, reported by the BLS start in the high $30,000 range. For an experienced political consultant, the salary is often much higher--in fact, CNN Money reports that in 2005 more than fifty percent of consultants made over $100,000 annually.

General Resources

Education

Career Specialties

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