Becoming a Senator

Senator Career Overview

Congress is comprised of senators, and members of the House of Representatives. There are two senators elected from each of the fifty states, making a total of 100 senate positions available. For those seeking a job in politics, becoming a senator is one of the most highly prized positions in the political arena.

A senator must be at least thirty years old in order to pursue election. They are also required to be a United States citizen for nine years prior to their election. Once elected, a senator will serve a term of six years, and are able to seek reelection without restriction (as of 2011). Because there are no term limits at the current time, a senator can potentially spend their working years serving in this capacity as long as the people continue to vote them into office.

Roles and Duties as a Senator

senator A senator will spend time working in their home state as well as working in Washington, DC. Because of the amount of time spent in both locations, Senators will have multiple residents. They will go back and forth between Washington and their home state--often several times each month.

Making laws are the primary duties of senators. They are an active and necessary function of the political machine’s check and balance system that make up our federal government. They also act as a state’s representative at the federal level. They will speak for the needs of their state when policies, laws, budgets, and actions are being voted on in congress. Senators support the states constitutions, and are also required to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The job of senators on a daily basis depends on several factors. Some senators will hold certain positions within congress acting as committee members or chairpersons for specialized needs. Select senators are appointed as party chairpersons, majority leaders, minority leaders, and other similar positions. A senator’s job includes:

  • Seeking committee assignments
  • Work on passing legislation
  • Supporting their parties collective goals and agendas
  • Regulating transportation, money supply, and communications
  • Approving treaties
  • Nominating members of the Supreme Court, Cabinet secretaries, ambassadors and other federal officials

Senator Education and Training

While the constitution does not spell out educational requirements for a senator, earning a degree is vital nonetheless. In today’s complicated, and ever-changing society, having a degree is important for political candidates. Rarely will anyone seek such a high political position without an education or prior political experience.

Degree programs that are most beneficial for senators lean towards law. It isn’t necessary to have a law degree, however, to become a senator. Having a major in political science is a practical alternative and offers a broad skill set for advancing politicians.

To gain experience in the political field, most will seek positions in local and state politics first. It is important to have a record of political success if one wants to earn the approval of voters. This can happen by serving terms at the lower levels where training in politics becomes a hands-on experience.

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Salary Information and Job Outlook

A senator’s salary has remained at $174,000 since 2009. Senator salaries are based on the Employment Cost Index (ECI), according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. The top six leadership positions among senators also pay an additional salary. Besides a regular income, a senator’s compensation plan includes additional perks such as tax breaks, allowances for expenditures, and future privileges and courtesies after serving their term.

The job outlook for senators is unpredictable. There are only one hundred positions potentially available. Among these seats, many are held year after year by the same people. Some aspiring senatorial candidates will move to other states in order to secure a position if their home state seems unattainable.

General Resources


Career Specialties