Career as a Politician

Politician Career Overview

Politicians are key leaders and decision makers at every level of government. Becoming a politician in the United States allows a person to have a direct effect on many facets of life throughout our cities, states, and country.

Politicians are elected positions and, as such, are considered public servants whose duty it is to represent the interests of their constituents. The manner in which they serve will vary according to position--from policy makers to policy enforcers. They also oversee budgets, hire and appoint people for support positions, and act as the public face and voice of the citizens they serve.

Politician Careers and Job Information by State:

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

Specializations and Places of Work

Jobs in politics vary in specialties and opportunities. For instance, a local planning commission member will need to understand all aspects of housing and community development. They often specialize in a supportive field. A member of the House of Representatives often specializes in law or political science, as their duties require a good understanding of the legal and political process.

There are many places to enjoy a political career. A candidate will find work from local governing boards, county level positions, and state legislators. Some politicians will pursue a career that takes them all the way to the White House.

Roles and Duties as a Politician

The roles of a politician depend on the nature of the job. For instance, a local school board member acts as a community politician being interviewedrepresentative and leader, is a steward of the school district’s resources, and supports and advocates excellence in public education.

The roles of a senator are similar in that they are a voice for the people acting in a higher capacity. They have a direct influence on matters of state and law and act on behalf of not only their constituents, but also on their affiliated party as a whole.

The duties of a politician at all levels are also similar (at least at the core). All politicians have a duty to uphold the law while representing the will of the people. As the public spokesperson for their constituents, politicians should maintain a high degree of integrity and selfless interest in everything they do.

Education and Training

Choosing a career in politics can be a noble and worthy endeavor. As a leader, the skills needed are varied and critical. It is important for any politician to learn diplomacy in communications, be well versed in public policy, and have a strong sense of character and leadership.

Training for a career in politics often starts at the local level. Many politicians begin by working full-time in other fields, while holding positions on school boards, planning commissions, and other local elected opportunities. Other candidates will follow an educational path pursuing a degree in law, or a political science, moving straight into campaigning for full-time paid positions.

No matter which route a candidate takes, having a solid education and hands on experience is invaluable. It takes both theoretical knowledge and practical experience to be an effective politician.

Find schools to help to further your career:

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the number of jobs available for politicians will likely remain stable until 2018. Chances of being elected are, in part, based on how many candidates are interested in the position. In smaller rural towns, for example, competition for mayor will be less than in a large metropolitan city such as New York or Los Angeles.
The number of jobs remains relatively stable. As of 2008, according to the BLS, there were over 70,000 positions available throughout the United States. Opportunities are mostly found at the local and state levels. The federal level has less than 600 jobs, including the top positions of Vice President and President.

The BLS reports that in 2008 an average salary for a politician was just under $38,000 annually. The range of compensation, however, is wide. Some politicians will only receive a stipend for their efforts. Others receive an excellent living wage with long lasting benefits. The presidency is the top paid position in the United States. The United States President’s salary is $400,000 as well as a $150,000 expense account.

General Resources


Career Specialties