How to Become a Politician in the US

You don’t really need a formal background in political science, government, or law to become a politician. Even ordinary citizens can lead their communities and provide fresh perspectives to the current political environment. Read on to learn how to become a politician. 

How much does a politician earn?

A politician’s income depends greatly on the position that they have. For reference, here are the annual incomes for different political positions:

President: $400,000

Congress Members, including Senators: $174,000 

State Governor: $70,000 to $200,000

Mayor: $8,000 to $300,000 (depending on the size of the city and the amount of responsibility)

City Councillors: $50,000 to $180,000

If you find the compensation attractive and the work exciting for politicians, you might want to take a dive into a political career. Here’s how to become a politician in the US:

Earn a degree

While a politically inclined educational background is not a requirement for politicians in the US, having a degree prepares you better and gives you better credentials. Being a degree holder instantly gives you a boost in the eyes of the voters as someone who has the know-how in current events and the likes.

Although having a background in law or political science is the obvious choice, having a degree in business, history, economy, statistics, math, and even theatre can also prove to be useful.

Research requirements

Each state may have different requirements when it comes to qualifications for politicians. These requirements will also vary depending on what office you will be running for. A few examples of requirements that you will possibly need to comply with are the following:

  • Minimum years of residency within the country
  • Minimum years of residency within the state
  • Age requirements
  • Absence of criminal records
  • Place of birth/nationality
  • Other relevant documentation
  • Petition from a specified number of constituents
  • Absence of other disqualifying issues

Volunteer in your local community

Your local community is a great place to start campaigning. You don’t have to be on an official campaign or even actually running for a political position in order for you to start introducing yourself to the community. You can do this by volunteering. Volunteering has several benefits for aspiring politicians:

  • It is a brilliant way to expose you to the community.
  • Volunteering will build your reputation and increase your trustworthiness in the public eye.
  • It is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who can later support your political endeavor.
  • It will help you uncover the real needs of your community.
  • Volunteering will help you set your platforms that align with your community’s desires.

Speak up at public events

Once you are out there, it is a great chance to speak up and be heard. It does not have to be a political event. It could simply be a private gathering, a party, an event for your volunteer program, or a fundraising event.

Speaking in public gives you ample practice for the real deal and prepares you for public speaking at an actual campaign. Communication skills are a must-have when you want to learn how to become a politician. You should be able to comfortably speak in front of large crowds and with people whom you haven’t met before.

Learn how to conquer your fear of public speaking and speak like a true pro through online courses from Skill Success

Join a party

Joining a political party ups your chances of winning, should you finally run in an election. That is because many voters think candidates who belong to a party are more credible than independent candidates. Also, there are voters who may be loyal to a specific party and would not vote for candidates who are not members of that party.

There are also other benefits to joining a political party. You will better be able to expand your network and meet like-minded people who share the same vision as yourself. These people can also support your cause in the future in terms of endorsements or even donations.

Work on another politician’s campaign

The best way to learn how to become a politician is to observe someone else in action. What better way to do this than participating in an actual campaign? To start off, it does not have to be your own campaign.

Helping out a running candidate will not only introduce you to a vast network of political activists and people who can potentially help you in the future. It will also give you an idea of what a campaign looks like, how things work in a campaign, what you need for it to be effective, and what to expect when it’s finally your turn to run for office.

Build a support team

When you do decide to run for a political position, you should think about the people you want to support you. This is the stage where you build up a team of people who have the right skills and knowledge to help you succeed. Most of all, they need to be trustworthy and genuinely support you and your cause.

An electoral team usually comprises of the following positions:

  • Campaign manager
  • Communications manager
  • Finance director 
  • Media consultant
  • Field director/field organizer
  • Social media director
  • Speechwriter
  • Pollster
  • Policy adviser
  • Scheduler 

Start small

The best way to tackle politics is to work your way up, so start small. Begin with your local community first, then move your way to a wider scope. You can’t start by running for president and expect to gather enough votes to make a difference, much less to win.

Besides, starting small will give you more experience in governing a more manageable-sized community before moving on to a bigger responsibility. On top of that, it gives you time and opportunities to prove your mettle and gain your constituents’ trust so that they will support you when you run for the higher office.

Becoming a politician is a big responsibility. You will not only be making public appearances and earning votes, as that is merely the first step. Once you are in office, you will have the power to change your community for the better, and so expectations will be high from the public. Make sure that it is truly in your heart to become a public servant and desire to improve people’s lives.

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