Politician and Legislator Salaries
One of the career options available to political science degree holders is to become a politician. A politician may work at the local, state or federal government level in a variety of capacities. Usually one's level of government dictates one's salary.
The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that in May 2008, the average legislator earned $37,980. Politicians who hold executive positions, such as mayor, county commissioner, or city manager had wide variations in their salaries depending upon their jurisdiction. Local government executives averaged $82,150 per year. The average city manager's salary was $94,992.
The Empire Center for New York State Policy conducted a salary survey of state legislators in 2007. Salaries varied widely from state to state, with some legislators paid on a per-day basis during legislative sessions, to others receiving a stated, fixed annual salary. Because of these variations, determining an average state legislator's salary is impossible. The highest paid state legislators in 2007 worked in California and earned $113,098 annually.
Salaries By State
Likewise, governors' salaries vary greatly from one state to the next. Stateline.org compiled governors' salaries across the nation in 2007, and found that the governor of California made the highest yearly salary, at $206,500. Maine's governor made the lowest salary that year, at $70,000.
The annual salaries of members of the U.S. House of Representatives are determined each election period by Congress. As of January 2010, each representative earns $174,000 annually. The Speaker of the House earns $223,500 annually, while the majority and minority leaders of the House each earn $193,400 annually.
Members of the Senate also have their salaries set by Congress each election period. As of 2009, each Senator earns $174,000. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and party leaders each earn $193,400 per year.
The President of the United States, who is considered the highest executive and elected official in the country, earns $400,000 annually according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The Vice President earns about half that amount, at $230,700.
Chief Justice Salary
Not all politicians are elected officials. Some politicians are appointed by the President. One such office is Supreme Court Justice. OPM states that as of 2011, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court earns $223,500 annually. An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court makes $213,900 per year.
Other hired staff are necessary to ensure that the government functions properly. These workers assist politicians in carrying out their responsibilities and include chiefs of staff (who average $82,150 when working in local government, per the BLS), legislative assistants (who earn an average salary of $58,540 when working in the federal government's executive branch), press secretaries (who earn about $51,340 when working in local government), schedulers/executive administrative assistants (who earn $47,090 in local government and $43,230 in state government), and staff assistants (who earn an average of $41,880 in local government and $35,540 in state government).
Working as a lobbyist is another political science career that is closely related to that of politician. According to the Washington Post, starting salaries for lobbyists can be as high as $300,000 for those with good connections.
Political Consultant Salary
Political consultants, who are often classified as political scientists, are another important cog in the wheel that keeps the political realm functioning properly. The BLS says that in May 2008, median annual wages for political scientists were $104,130, with the possibility to earn up to $146,880.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2009. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.
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