Here's How to Get Into Politics, As a Career

Wondering how to get into politics as a career? Thousands of occupations exist in politics in the United States, with a wide range of duties and abilities. Political positions can be found all across the country, and most come with a regular income and government perks.

how to get into politics

What is politics?

All actions and events related to the federal and municipal governments are included in U.S. politics. Politicians such as the president, senators, and lobbyists are tasked with making choices and enacting legislation that protects and improves our country. The nation's capital city, Washington, D.C., is the epicenter of federal politics. On Capitol Hill, many politicians labor, debating bills, holding hearings, and presenting suggestions.

State legislators and governors are concerned with fulfilling the needs of their constituents and reflecting their views. They pay attention to voter recommendations and concerns and utilize that information to help them decide which laws to pass and which proposals to vote for. Politics have an important role in the functioning of our country at all levels.

How to get into politics

Here's how to get into politics. Here's how to get political science careers off the ground.

how to get into politics

Become qualified

You must first determine whether or not you are qualified to pursue a political career. Politicians and political staff come from a variety of educational backgrounds, although the majority are required to hold a bachelor's degree. Political personnel can benefit from degrees in political science, law, business, finance, or other relevant disciplines. Extracurricular activities like as student body government, speech and debate, and activist groups are common at four-year institutions and can be of interest to prospective politicians.

Do volunteer work

You will need to obtain appropriate experience in order to continue to improve your qualifications. This can be accomplished through a variety of means, including entry-level positions. Volunteering, on the other hand, is one of the most frequent methods to get political experience. Many political campaigns rely heavily on the time and effort of unpaid donors. You will almost certainly be able to locate opportunities to work for local politicians running for office whose philosophy you agree with if you reach out to them. This will provide you the opportunity to work in a political setting and see campaign activities firsthand.

Unpaid internships will also provide you with practical experience by allowing you to observe and help in political activities. If you want to work in politics, you'll probably need to satisfy specific requirements, which might include your GPA, degree program, or past work experience. As a campaign volunteer, you'll most likely be answering phones, packing and addressing envelopes, cold contacting voters, passing out brochures, and assisting with fundraisers.

how to get into politics

Choose a particular political party

In the United States, politics is split into many major political parties. Different value systems and ideologies are prioritized by these parties. They do, however, have a common goal: to preserve and promote their nation. You must pick a political party before running for office or pursuing a high-level political job. To do so, thoroughly examine each party's platform and choose the one that most closely aligns with your ideals and can benefit from your involvement.

Even if you don't want to be an elected person, picking a political party might help you reach your career goals. Politicians like to hire people who share their political party affiliations, and the professional network that comes with selecting a political party is extremely valuable to entry-level workers.

Get involved in local government

You can start looking for a job in politics if you have the appropriate education, experience, and abilities. Getting active in your local government is one of the simplest ways to achieve this. Look for entry-level positions at the governor's offices, as well as the state capitol. You can also help with seasonal activities like voter registration or serve on government committees. Working with the local government can help you gain a reputation as a politically engaged citizen and develop your name in the community.

Contribute money to political candidates or a political campaign. And get involved with the political process from this level.

how to get into politics

Run for office

You can decide to run for office after establishing yourself in your political community. Organizing a campaign, employing a campaign manager, soliciting campaign cash from contributors, and visiting the city, state, or nation to meet potential supporters are all examples of this. Running for office requires a significant amount of time and work, but it is one of the most successful methods to serve your nation and get a government job.

At every level of government, you can run for a variety of positions, including:

Ever consider impacting your local or state government without running for elected office? Or running for a seat on your local school board/city council?

Stay informed

Staying updated on local, national, and worldwide news is one of the most crucial aspects of being a successful political professional. Throughout your political career, you will need to be constantly informed of what is going on in the globe. All lawmaking professionals, including lobbyists, legislative assistants, and elected politicians, need to be well-versed in political affairs.

If you succeed in politics, you'll almost certainly be offered options for progression, such as a promotion, a salary rise, or the chance to compete for a higher elected position. As your career progresses, you'll need to be on the lookout for new methods to enhance your talents, expand your knowledge, and grow professionally. For anybody wishing to have a long career in politics, staying current, active, and educated is essential.

Pro tip: Familiarity with international relations, public speaking skills, and the ability to create a local community/political gatherings is a strong set of skills that can be applied to politics. Use your skills to pursue a career path in political work.

What is a career in politics like?

Politics offers opportunities to aspiring professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Lobbying groups, political action committees (PACs), and the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of government are all frequent places to work in political science. Non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and electoral campaigns are all places where politicians can operate.

The fast-paced, high-intensity milieu of lobbying and government groups appeals to many prospective politicians. Political science majors frequently generate funds for party-affiliated PACs or work as lobbyists for politicians or specific industrial interests. Administrative careers in scheduling are widely sought after because they provide the finest opportunities for gaining expertise, particularly in state and municipal governments.

Political science majors can aspire to state supreme court or state attorney general posts in the judicial branch, which is generally elected. Federal posts such as Supreme Court justice and attorney general, on the other hand, are appointed rather than elected, therefore the path to such positions is different. Political science majors make excellent analysts and pollsters for think tanks, as well as campaign and social media strategists.

All applicants require good communication, computer, and diplomatic skills, whether they want to work in lobbying, public office, or administration. Jobs in political science need a high level of emotional maturity and judgment. While state and local government jobs are available around the country, many upper-level posts are concentrated in Washington, D.C.

Candidates with highly flexible abilities are needed for campaign-centered professions in political science. Election cycles for presidents can take up to 2.5 years, while some might last only a few months. Many campaign workers, both locally and in Washington, D.C., spend their "off seasons" pushing for legislation or working for down-ballot races, NGOs, or special interest organizations.

how to get into politics

Difference between a career in politics and government

While there are some parallels between the two sectors, careers in politics and government differ in numerous ways. People who work in government, such as elected politicians, department heads, and campaign workers, have political careers. Those who work in government roles, such as public service, the military, legislative assistants, or state court judges, are termed public servants. Postal workers, teachers, police officers, and transportation employees all fall under this category. Government has more jobs than politics, with a total of 3,867,028 across the country.

In the United States, many political jobs are essentially cyclical. Campaign workers and elected politicians, for example, have varying employment prospects based on the year's elections. Additionally, the ebb and flow of positions in politics affect the employees and aides that assist elected politicians. During busy election cycles, there are more open jobs in politics.

Politics and governance frequently collide. With relatively minor distinctions between political and governmental duties, it's unsurprising that individuals often confuse the two. Many elected officials, for example, serve in both political and administrative capacities. Politicians that are elected typically aspire to higher-level government posts at the municipal, state, or federal levels.

Working for the government has a number of advantages. Benefits might include retirement pensions, subsidized medical and dental insurance, and a public service loan forgiveness program, depending on a candidate's credentials and region. Local, state, and federal government positions generally provide a wide range of career possibilities as well as competitive pay.

Consider starting your career in an entry-level position.

Entry-level job titles in politics

Entry-level jobs in politics or government agencies/local governments:

  • Data analysts.
  • Economists.
  • Lawyers.
  • Pollsters.
  • Schedulers.
  • Social Media Strategies.
  • Engineers.
  • Web Developers.
  • Staff Assistants.
  • IT (Information Technology).
  • Legislative Aides.

Using education to get into politics

Politics jobs need a wide range of abilities, as well as a good education and professional experience. Internships and networking opportunities are common among political science majors while still in school to help begin their political careers. Aspiring politicians can pursue bachelor's degrees in legal studies, history, or economics in addition to political science.

University education

While most universities offer political science majors, several schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, West Point, Stanford, UCLA, and Georgetown, are recognized for generating politically engaged students. Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, and Yale Law School graduates are among the members of Congress.

Politics jobs need a wide range of abilities, as well as a good education and professional experience.

Students in political science can get a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree. Through compulsory courses in economics, political philosophy, and law, both degrees prepare graduates for careers in politics. Internships are also crucial for political science majors' professional preparation; some institutions mandate students to do internships as part of their bachelor's degrees, while others strongly suggest it.

Networking

Another important aspect of preparing for a job in political science is networking. After graduation, building relationships through professional groups, student-led organizations, and political science-specific fraternities and sororities might help entry-level job seekers.

Professional networking also aids in the development of soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, detail-oriented skills, and computer skills, all of which can assist political science graduates improve their employment chances.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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