Becoming a Governor

Governor Career Overview

Becoming a governor is often the ultimate career goal for many politicians. There is only one governor in each state. This means the competition can be fierce as many vie for this high political position. The governor is the chief executive officer at the state level of government, and is elected by the people. In order to be a state governor, a candidate must be a certain age and have the proper qualifications to serve including citizenship, and length of residency as dictated by each state’s constitution.

The term for a governor is two to four years depending on the state. Some states restrict how many terms a governor may serve in their lifetime. For instance, as of 2011, the governor of California may only serve two terms while the governor of Texas may serve unlimited terms, according to their state’s websites.

While in office, the governor will manage the affairs of state with the help of appointed and selected staff members. The governor oversees all areas of state government and is held accountable for the health and vitality of the state’s quality of life for its citizens.

Roles and Duties as a Governor

governor hand shake The governor is much like the CEO of a corporation headquartered at the state capitol. They act as the executive officer of the state they serve. As such, the governor has the final authority to veto or pass any bills that come across their desk. They oversee state budgets and account for all state funds. It is also the governor’s responsibility to appoint, and fill certain supporting positions in the state capitol.

As an executive officer, they have an obligation to report to the people what is taking place in their state. Additionally, they will act as the commander of the state’s armed forces, calling out state forces in time of widespread disaster, or violence.
Above and beyond the day-to-day roles and duties of a governor, the leader of each state has the responsibility of being accountable to the people. A governor must manage a state’s affairs with due diligence and high ethical and moral standards.

Education and Training

Becoming governor often starts with an education and background in politics. While not a requirement, programs to become governor include political science degrees. These degrees will prepare a gubernatorial candidate to serve the people well.
Some of the coursework covered in a political science degree include:

  • Introduction to politics
  • Politics and women
  • Politics and race relations
  • Communications, media, and public relations
  • Foreign policy and conflict
  • Policy and law

Other ways a student prepares for governor is gaining hands-on political experience. Unlike most jobs, a job interview will include the opinions and concerns of the entire state voting population. As such, gaining practical insight into politics at lower levels is an excellent starting point for the gubernatorial candidate. It is here a candidate will begin to understand how to serve.

This will likely mean pursuing local level positions such as mayor or county supervisor. A candidate might also choose to pursue other elected jobs in state politics found at the state capitol level.

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Salary Information and Job Outlook

Each state salary for governor varies. The salaries can also vary up and down depending on the economy. For instance, in 2010, the governor of California took a pay cut, going from $212,000 down to $173,0000.

As of 2010, the average governor salary is approximately $130,000. In 2010, the highest paid governor, according to a report by, was New York’s governor at $179,000.

The job outlook for a position as governor is relative to the term limits set by each state and the popularity of the current governor. Because there is only one governor per state, jobs are limited.

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