Here's How to Become a Congressman (Professional Guide)

Here's how to become a congressman. Running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives is a difficult and complicated profession that necessitates strong interpersonal skills, practical experience, and knowledge of government processes and regulations.

Members of Congress are also entrusted with making judgments that might have a substantial impact on the lives of their people, in addition to formulating and proposing laws. This article will go through some of the most crucial aspects of becoming a congressperson.

how to become a congressman

In Federalist 52, James Madison of Virginia wrote that “Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government  is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” 

What is is a congressman/congressperson?

The legislative branch of the federal government is responsible for enacting laws. The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two primary branches. Representatives, often known as Congressmen or Congresswomen, serve for two years in the House of Representatives.

Each representative, also known as a congressman or congresswoman, is chosen for a two-year term to serve the people of a certain congressional district. Representatives initiate legislation and resolutions, propose amendments, and participate in committees, among other things. The number of full-voting delegates is 435, as established by Public Law 62-5 on August 8, 1911, and in force since 1913. The number of MPs is proportional to the population of each state.

The Constitution's Article 1, Section 2 specifies the House of Representatives' minimum and maximum sizes. The District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands each have five representatives. Puerto Rico is represented by a resident commissioner. The delegates and resident commissioners have the same rights and privileges as other members of the House, except that they are not allowed to vote while the House meets as the House of Representatives.

What does a congressman/congressperson do?

Members of Congress are elected politicians who act as the people's representatives in their districts. Much of their job involves a thorough grasp of critical topics, as well as conducting research and investigation, consulting, communicating, and making several decisions.

The following are some of the responsibilities that members of Congress are required to fulfill:

  • Hearings are being held.
  • Bill writing and co-authoring.
  • Creating legislation and voting on it.
  • Meetings to attend.
  • Listening to concerns and suggestions in order to assist in the resolution of critical issues.
  • Developing a budget.

Being a member of Congress necessitates a thorough grasp and knowledge of the law. A congressperson's major job is to review and adopt legislation that impacts public safety, the economy, business, lifestyle, culture, and citizens' legal rights.

Many of these experts serve on committees tasked with resolving policy concerns affecting certain government departments.

Members of committees have extra obligations in addition to those given to members of Congress, such as:

  • Participating in meetings, conferences, and public debates.
  • Examining bills that fall under the committee's purview.
  • Identifying problems and making recommendations to the committee for solutions.
  • Projects, programs, agencies, and activities that fall under the committee's purview are overseen.
  • In congressional investigations, cross-examining evidence and witnesses.
  • Recommending legislation and, if required, judicial action.
  • Taking part in news briefings and issuing press remarks.

How to become a congressman/congressperson

British law is the source of the constitutional qualifications for office. Members of the House of Commons were required to live in the shires or boroughs that they represented, however, this was seldom done. A congressperson is a person who has been elected to a post in the legislature. You can enhance your chances of winning an election by doing the following steps:

Get a bachelor's degree.

There are no formal educational qualifications for becoming a member of Congress. Voters, on the other hand, are more inclined to elect a congressperson who they believe is qualified for the position. A congressperson with a bachelor's degree or greater educational attainment is more likely to gain voter confidence.

If you want to be a congressperson, you should consider getting a degree in law, political science, or international relations.

Get practical experience.

Experience in areas linked to your causes might help you prepare for important responsibilities and decision-making processes you'll face as a politician. The majority of aspiring members of Congress begin their careers in government service at the lowest ranks. For example, you might work as an assistant to a public official, which would allow you to get experience in certain areas of public service.

You might also help out at charitable events and organizations. Volunteering for a charity provides you a unique perspective on the issues that impact your community and alternative methods to solve them.

Be involved with the community.

To be a successful congressperson, you must be involved in the community you intend to represent. If and when you are elected, being familiar with neighborhood people and their problems will help you decide the most essential priority areas to address. Community engagement at the grass-roots level also gives several possibilities to form relationships with potential voters, which can help your political campaign.

Be involved with local politics.

Early involvement in local politics, or at least familiarity with the local political scene, might also be beneficial. The majority of municipal politicians are members of political parties and organizations at the state and national levels. Strategic connections with political personalities with whom you identify can thus be advantageous to your professional goals.

how to become a congressman

File for candidacy.

To run for Congress, you must meet the criteria of the United States Constitution as well as the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Most residents are allowed to run for office under the Constitution, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to serve the public. The Federal Election Commission, on the other hand, sets reporting procedures to guarantee that campaign-related costs are properly liquidated.

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution lays forth the three fundamental qualifications for becoming a congressperson:

  • Candidates must be 25 years old or older.
  • Candidates must have lived in the United States for a minimum of seven years (at least seven years).
  • Candidates must reside in the state they are running for.
  • Must be a United States citizen.

The following are the FEC criteria for filing a candidacy:

  • Candidates must file a statement of candidacy within 15 days of receiving donations or exceeding a $5,000 campaign expenditure.
  • Within 10 days, candidates should select and create a primary campaign committee, as well as file a Statement of Organization.

The committee must appoint a treasurer who will be exclusively responsible for signing FEC reports and statements on behalf of the campaign after it is created. Unless a treasurer is appointed, the group will be unable to receive any contributions.

Raise funds for the campaign.

One of the most crucial aspects of a campaign's development is raising cash. To gain greater visibility, pay for advertising, and produce campaign materials, you'll need a lot of money. There is no set amount that must be spent on a campaign.

Several politicians have used crowdsourcing to support their campaigns. Candidates who have developed good ties with the local community and their potential constituency are more likely to succeed with this technique. Local political parties can also be able to assist you in raising money for your campaign.

how to become a congressman

Start campaigning.

The beginning of your campaign is the final stage towards becoming a congressperson. Your interpersonal skills will come in handy at this point, as they will allow you to establish rapport with potential voters. Communication skills will also help you to promote your platform, advocate for your cause, and build deeper relationships with your people.

Congressional candidates can campaign for up to 18 hours each day. A successful candidate must understand and act on what people care about.

Candidates should identify and form a principal campaign committee and file a Statement of Organization within 10 days.

Common questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about being a member of Congress, along with their answers:

Are wealth and popularity required?

To become a congressperson, you don't have to be renowned, but you will need a lot of exposure to the people and areas you would be representing. You can substantially improve your prospects of becoming a congressperson by attempting to become a recognizable face to potential voters.

Not every politician has the financial resources necessary to run a successful campaign. Many have raised the required campaign finances through crowdfunding, contributions, or political party connections.

What skills do I need to be a congressperson?

To be a successful congressperson, you'll need a thorough understanding of the legislation, government processes, and community concerns. To develop a solid relationship with your supporters, potential voters, and the individuals you'll be dealing with, you'll also need excellent interpersonal and verbal abilities.

It will also help you in your career if you are alert and observant. You could also benefit from honing your reasoning abilities, which will aid you in arguments and deliberations.

What alternative jobs are available?

Preparing for a career as a congressperson also qualifies you for government employment in the public sector. You can also collaborate with non-profit groups that share your values or platform.

You can also work as a teacher or professor if you have a political science degree. Law degree holders, of course, have a wide range of legal job choices in both the commercial and governmental sectors.

Running for local city council, for example, could also suffice the experience required to someday run for congressman/congressperson.

how to become a congressman

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Get our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free. No email required.

Grab the PDF
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, Dice.com, WorkWise, 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.

Share

Help us by spreading the word