Political Science Jobs: Where to Work with a Political Science Degree

July 28, 2013

A degree in political science is a fairly common thing for people to want to get.

However, there is a misconception out there that there aren’t any jobs in the realm of politics.

Thankfully, there are some jobs you can get that don’t require being elected to office. In fact, with a degree, you can get a wide variety of political science jobs. Here are some of the most common ones that people want.

Political Analyst

political science jobsIf you have a Poli-Sci degree, then you are more than qualified for a wide variety of political analysis positions. These can come in several forms.

The government itself hires political analysts to observe the going-ons of other countries. The Central Intelligence Agency in particular is well known for doing this. They hire political analysts to look into the political climates of foreign nations, that way they are fully prepared for any kind of international crisis before it happens.

Of course, you’re likely thinking more along the lines of being on TV if you want to be a political analyst. And that is more than possible. If you have a TV personality and opinions that people will gladly listen to you share, you could end up being a TV political analyst. Even if it is just for a local news team, this is a great way to use that political science degree.

Government Teacher

If you like working with high school students, a great political science job to have would be to work as a high school government or social studies teacher. This would give you a chance to share your love of politics with students, and hopefully prepare those students for when they get their chance to make a difference in the world of politics.

If you want to become a government teacher, here is a great article that I wrote about becoming a teacher in general that should help you out.

Journalism

Another option for those who like to write or report the news is to be a political journalist. There are always job and freelance opportunities out there for political reporters. You can easily make a full career out of this. Check with your local news stations, newspapers, and even radio stations to find work in the beginning. With the right combination of hard work, talent, and luck, you could end up working for a major national publication in no time.

Non Profits

If you want to work for an organization on a noble mission, then you should consider working for a not-for-profit. The larger of these types of organizations have to employ lots of political science graduates simply because they need to keep on top of an enormous amount of legislation. Our government regulates non profits more than any other type of association, and therefore they have to be extra careful to stay on top of the political side of things.

Campaigns

A great place to get started working in political science is for campaigns. During campaign season there are a myriad of political campaigns that you could potentially work for.

Call around to various campaign offices and ask what they are in need of help with, and see if you can get hired. There are a variety of jobs that you can work at in a political campaign. See a full list of them here.

Lobbying

Lobbying is a controversial, yet very profitable job for many. Lobbyist involves attempting to persuade a politician to vote a certain way on a particular issue. If you want to be a lobbyist, you can work for a large variety of organizations.

Corporate lobbyists are notoriously well paid. Companies often have a vested interest in how a certain piece of legislation turns out, especially if that legislation regulates them or costs them millions of dollars (which is fairly common). Because of this, they pay lobbyists substantial amounts of money to convince politicians of their views.

You can also lobby for a special interest group. Many special interest groups have a vast majority of the money they spend go towards lobbying efforts. Think of groups like the National Rifle Association of People for the Equal Treatment of Animals. Both groups pay lobbyists good money to speak up for those that donate money to their causes.

If you are interested in becoming a lobbyist, read my full article on the subject here.

Local Government

If you are a new graduate, you may want to consider getting a job in your local government. There are all sorts of non-elected positions that you could potentially work in, ranging from secretaries to analysts to committee positions.

State Government

Similarly to your local government, if you have a little bit of experience under your belt you can potentially go work for you state government. These jobs won’t be as easy to get as a local job most likely, but they normally pay more, and offer you a chance to have a broader impact.

Congressional Staffer

If you want to work on a national level, there are all sorts of positions that you can get if you have a political science degree. You can work for congress itself simply assisting in getting things done. You can also work for your congressman or senator of choice if you want in a wide variety of positions, ranging from internships to strategists.

Of course, once you have some experience and connections, you can potentially move up further and work in the White House itself.

Become a Politician

And the ultimate political job out there is of course to become a politician. While a political science degree doesn’t automatically qualify you to become a politician (read our full article here to discover what can), it does give you a big resume piece. Remember that people are oftentimes weary of career politicians, so do something besides politics for a while if this is the path you are thinking about taking.

How to Become President of the United States

July 8, 2013

The President of the United States is largely considered the most powerful person in the world.

Because of this, many people are very interested in becoming President.

While there isn’t a specific formula to use if you want to be elected President, there is a very specific process that you will need to follow in order to make this dream a reality. Remember that while doing these things is the formal process of attaining this office, they won’t by themselves get you elected. Check out our guide on becoming a politician to find out what you can do to improve your odds of one day getting elected to this prestigious office.

Meet the Qualifications

The first thing anyone must do on the journey towards becoming President is meet the basic qualifications of the office. The Constitution of the United States very clearly establishes three basic things all candidates must be:

  • A natural born citizen of the United States: This is the reason that Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been able to run for President despite his incredible success in the world of politics.

  • 35 years of age: Unfortunately for all of us young guns out there, this age limit is unflinching. The youngest President to ever serve was Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he took over after William McKinley’s assassination in 1901. The youngest President ever elected was John F. Kennedy, who was 43 at the time.

  • Been a resident of the United States for 14 years: These don’t have to have been 14 consecutive years or even the years prior to running for office. As long as you have been a resident of the US for a total of 14 years, you meet this requirement.

These requirements are set in Article 2 of the constitution, which established the Executive Branch of our government.

Pre-Candidacy

Before you can even think about filing candidacy papers, there are some big things that need to happen. This process will have to begin years, and ideally decades, before you first run.

Before Politics

Being a so called “career politician” is something that is viewed very negatively by the majority of the population. Having real world experience and handling problems that the middle class can relate to is one of the best ways to get the people to support you.

Do the things that any average person would do, but do them very well. Go to college, get a job, earn promotions, start a business, volunteer, etc. The more you do, the more likely you are to succeed when you first step into the political arena. Remember that having big accomplishments (like writing a bestselling book or running a billion dollar company) are some of the best ways to make a name for yourself and boost your campaign. While the average person may not be able to do those things, the average person won’t become president either.

Early Political Career

how to become president of the United StatesWithout exception, all former US Presidents were Senators, Governors, Congressmen, or military generals before being elected. With this said, it is obvious that political success before your run for the top office is of critical importance. It won’t guarantee your success, but it will be a large factor.

The age of the military hero President has been winding down for nearly a century now. It once stood to reason that a successful military general would be the country’s leader. The most recent example of this is of course President Eisenhower. However, this has faded over time. As the country’s overall view of the military has dimmed slightly, as has the necessity for enlisted service in a Presidential candidate’s resume.

With that said, serving in the military is still a great way to boost the credibility of your campaign. It is a great place to start if you are young. Get your degree first and serve as an officer to boost your leadership ability.

Of course, serving in actual political offices is also incredibly important. Your career will likely begin in offices such as city council member or state legislator. In order to be taken seriously during your campaign though, you will need to hold national office or a state executive position. Run for governor of your state, or the national legislature (congress) before doing so. Here are some articles to get you started on this:

How to Become a Governor

How to Become a Senator

How to Become a Congressman

Testing Your Potential

Before you declare your candidacy, you should test the waters to make sure your campaign will have legs. Send some emails out to friends, family, and colleagues, asking them to fill out a form saying they would consider voting for you. Ask them to forward it to friends as well, and see how well it spreads. Look at using social media as well in a similar fashion.

Taking it one step further, you could begin to form Political Action Committees (PACs) and see if you can raise any money for your campaign. Raising campaign funds is a huge piece of running for any national office, and the Presidency is the best example of this. For example, President Obama raised right around $1 billion dollars for his 2012 campaign.

Become a Candidate

Once you are ready to declare your candidacy, you will unsurprisingly need to file some official paperwork. This will go to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). You must register as a candidate with this agency once you, or others on your behalf, have either raised or spent in excess of $5,000 on your campaign. You will have to file a Statement of Candidacy within fifteen days of hitting that fiscal amount, and a Statement of Organization shortly thereafter.

When you decide to make your announcement, make as a big of a deal out of it as possible. Send out press releases, do a press conference, leverage your social media accounts, send out letters, etc. The more initial press you get, the more traction you’ll be able to carry into the primaries.

Primaries and Caucuses

In order to receive your party’s official nomination for the Presidency, you will have to do very well in the primary elections and caucuses across the various states in our country. There are often times many levels of these, and each state does them a little bit differently.

As the various primary elections happen for you party across the different states, you will have to campaign in these locations. Some states you might be able to win very easily and won’t need to spend a lot of time campaigning in in order to win. Others may contain hard fought battles, and will require a large amount of campaigning to win over enough voters to take the state’s delegates to your party’s national convention.

National Conventions

National party conventions are a very old process that have been a major part of the process of electing a president for nearly two centuries.

Once the states’ primaries and caucuses are over, each party has a national convention. It is there that the party officially nominates a candidate for the Presidency. However, in most cases the candidate the party will pick has already been determined during the primary/caucus phase of the process.

In modern times, the national convention is more of a TV program than a political process. A candidate needs to shine on stage and in front of the camera during this convention to get the backing of his or her party.

National Election

The national presidential election in the US has always been a relatively complicated process that very few people fully understand. On election day, there really is two different votes happening simultaneously, and while they are both important to look at, only one determines who will become the next President.

Popular Vote

When you go to the polls on that Tuesday, you are voting in the general election. Each citizen in the United States has a chance to vote.

While one might think that in a democratic system of government the general election would decide who will be the next President. However, that isn’t true in our government. It is actually possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the election. The most recent (and controversial) example of this was the 2000 Presidential election in which George Bush won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote by nearly half a million votes to Al Gore.

Electoral College

The Electoral College is the actual authority that decides who will be the next President of the United States. It consists of electors who are chosen by popular vote within each state. The number of electors are proportioned to states based on the amount of Representatives and Senators they have in Congress. Currently there are 538 electors in the Electoral College. This is because there are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 100 Senators, and three additional electors given to the District of Columbia after the twenty third constitutional amendment was instituted.

In order to be elected President, a candidate must receive the majority of the electoral votes. To win a state’s electoral votes, the candidate must win a majority of the state’s popular vote. All states with the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska give all of their electoral votes to a single candidate.

Inauguration

The inauguration of the new President of the United States happens on the 20th of January following the election (or the 21st if the 20th is a Sunday). It is typically a massive nationally televised event in which the President is officially sworn into office and his or her four year term begins.

So if you can manage to get through that process, you will have successfully become President of the United States. It isn’t even a remotely easy thing to do. Only 44 people have done it in the history of our country. It is safe to say it is one of (if not the) hardest jobs to get in the world.

However, it is an incredibly opportunity to serve this great country, and make an impact on the entire world.

How to Get Into Politics

July 5, 2013

If you want to get into politics, there are several good places to start.

One of the best is to simply begin to follow the political news. Watch TV news, read the newspaper, or follow it online. It doesn’t matter where you get the news, as long as you are getting it.

Another thing to do right away is form your political ideologies. You may already have them (most people do), but you probably still need to solidify some of your views. Practice debating with people just to make sure you have them down.

Once you’ve done that, you may be ready to get into politics in a major way: by becoming a politician yourself.

The Early Years

To get into politics in the US, consider starting at a young age. Children of parents who are politically active, or at least politically minded, tend to be more aware of politics early on. Those children will either reject politics or accept the arena as their own, too. Children that do not have politically active parents, can still show an interest by becoming involved in related school activities. Most grade schools through high school have some sort of student government, so get involved and run for office.

Volunteering at a Young Age

In the US, some form of election occurs every year. Whether it’s federal, state or local, there’s always a campaign going on. Students, who have an interest in politics, are encouraged to volunteer a few hours a week on a campaign of their choice. The chosen campaign can be for a candidate or a cause. Being able to experience politics from the ground level allows the individual to start forming their own personal ideology. This is where a person can figure out where their values, morals and opinions truly lie. In the US, there’s a two-party system within a democracy. By working on a campaign, people can decide if they are truly a Democrat or truly a Republican. If neither party is a good fit, there are many 3rd political parties that are always seeking volunteers to help spread their message.

College

Once a student has spent enough time volunteering for their political cause, there’s a very good chance that they have met a candidate or politician that they are most interested in working for in the future. 95% of the time, in order to be hired as part of a political staff, though, the individual must posses a Bachelor’s Degree. Until an undergraduate degree is attained, individuals can remain on staff as interns, paid and unpaid. This means that a college degree is a must. A chosen major is not a deal breaker, but it’s a good idea to study something related, including political science, international affairs, communications, philosophy and even business. What the student really wants to achieve, in whatever study they choose, is gaining tangible skills such as critical thinking, negotiation, public speaking and knowledge of US history and law.

Another option is joining the military. Those in the military can choose to earn their degree while serving their country. In this case, it’s usually win-win. Those who successfully serve their term in the military and maintain the required grade point average, can walk away with a wealth of experience and their undergraduate degree. When it comes to getting into politics, having served in the military is a positive highlight. Not only does someone who served in the US military become more attractive to prospective employers, Constituents will lean more favorably toward them because there’s a proven record of service. Individuals who wish to serve, but do not want to enlist, can choose the Peace Corps instead.

Post-College

At this point, those hoping to get into politics are either in, armed with the necessary ammunition to get in, or just realizing that they want to get into this arena.

If a person is in, they just have to figure out how to stay in politics. Many political jobs come and go based on what cause or candidate they have pledged their allegiance. If their cause or politician loses, then they essentially lose, as well. Therefore, it’s important to always have an contingency plan.

For those in the second boat, just completing their undergraduate degree, this is when all the hours of volunteering and having an unpaid internship should pay off. Yes, a lot of time was essentially donated, but in return, enough networking should have taken place so that some sort of job opportunity will available upon graduation. If it’s not, it just means that some more hours of pavement pounding and networking are ahead.

Those that have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and have just realized that politics is their path, it’s not too late. Be ready to show your qualifications, pick a political party, politician, cause or all three, and pound the pavement.

It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to get into politics in the USA. The same principles that those who showed an early interest in politics followed, can be applied to anyone, at any stage of their political career. Getting into politics requires having minimum qualifications, meaning a bachelor’s degree about 95% of the time, and many hours of volunteering and networking.

When it comes to a career in politics, ultimately, the most successful are the ones that are most able to build the strongest relationships with their Constituents. They do so by cementing their political ideology and being able to most effectively communicate their message.

If you want more info on becoming a politician, read out in depth guide on the subject.

How to Vote

July 3, 2013

You may be wondering how to vote in America. Perhaps you’ve just turned eighteen, just became a citizen, or some other event has sparked your civic interest in participating in the great democratic experiment. Great! The following is a short guide that will walk you through the whole process, and also discuss some options for your voting needs.

One thing to keep in mind: voting is regulated by your state, and the local laws and procedures may vary to some extent where you live. Be persistent, conscientious, and involved, and you should be able to vote in no time!

Step 1: Register
The very first thing you need to do is register to vote. You can register in some places online, through the mail, or in person. The first thing to do is to use your phonebook or computer to locate your closest election commission. These are the local officials whose job is to help register and inform voters. They are on your side and should be helpful in getting you registered. Many states nowadays require certain forms of identification so they can be sure you are who you say you are. This can be a birth certificate, driver’s license, or other state-issued ID. Find the contact information for your local commission to see what your state requires in order to register.
Once you’ve registered, you should receive your voter ID card in the mail! This is, in general, a card that identifies you and your voting precinct. A voting precinct is your local polling place, and that’s where you’ll need to go if you want to vote in person in order to cast your ballot.

Note: Males turning 18 are automatically issued a Selective Service (draft) card, and this will usually be accompanied by an invitation to register to vote. Make sure you’re registered with both the Selective Service and your local voting authority!

Step 2: Decide When to Vote
There are many elections in the United States. From city council members, mayors, to sheriffs, local representatives, congressmen, judges, and even the President of the United States, many of our representatives are elected.In many local elections, but also state and sometimes federal, there are also votes on new laws and measures that the public has a direct hand in enacting. You’ll often be informed by local activists when there’s an important election coming up, or an important ballot measure, but don’t count on anyone doing so! Also, sometimes politics can get dirty and there will be campaigns to misinform voters. Don’t be fooled! You can always get voting information from your local commission’s website and other official sources.

Step 3: Decide How to Vote
Now that you’ve registered to vote, you’ve located your polling place, and you know what issues or elections you want a say in, it’s time to vote! In the United States, there are two ways to cast your ballot: in person at your polling place, and via mail. You can apply for a mail-in ballot through your local election commission, and if you’re in an underserved or other community with a strong presence of volunteers, you may get someone at your door offering to get you registered and to give you a mail-in ballot. The very nice thing about mail-in ballots is they are completely confidential, and you can just pop them in the mailbox when you’re done. While all votes are confidential, you can vote on issues that matter to you right in the comfort of your home. Don’t forget to mail your ballot before the deadline!
If you decide to vote in person, make sure you know the date and times that your local polling place are open. Arrange for reliable transportation, and take some time to research your local issues. In many states local ballot measures and elections will be held at the same time as federal elections. Take the time to read up on the candidates and issues at hand, they represent you! When you arrive at the polling place, you may be required or requested to show a valid state-issue ID. If this is the law in your state, make sure you’ve got it ready. The people at polling places are volunteers, and they want to help you vote, so be sure to ask for help if you need it.

Step 4: Vote!
You’ve registered with your local election commission, received your voter registration card, researched the representatives and issues on the ballot, and decided to mail-in a ballot or go in person to cast your vote. Now, all that’s left is to go and do it! Depending on your locality you may vote with a touch-screen computer, a lever operated machine, or by penciling in circles on a form. Whichever way your local area votes, if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to a volunteer at the polling place. They are there to help you any way they can.

Step 5: Get Involved
Congratulations! You’ve cast your vote and taken part in one of the great freedoms we as Americans sometimes take for granted. Now take the next step and go out and make sure your friends and family are also registered voters. The democracy is only as strong as the people who take the time to participate and vote, and if there’s something on your mind, vote on it!

Politician Salary

July 1, 2013

The salaries and benefits provided to politicians vary widely based on the office they hold. While not nearly as big as the salaries of leaders in the private sector, a politician can still make a respectable amount of money.

The salary for the President of the United States is determined by Congress. The Constitution guarantees that a President cannot have their salary changed while serving a term as President. This is found in Article II, Section I of the Constitution. The last change to the President’s salary happened in 2001. Congress voted in late 2000 to change the annual salary beginning with the next presidential term from $200,000 to $400,000. Presidents also receive a $50,000 expense allowance.

Retired United States Presidents receive an annual pension that is equal to the current salary of the Cabinet Secretaries. In 2013 this amount was $199,700. In addition to their retirement pension, they can receive money to help them transition to life in the private sector. This money can be used to help set up offices and pay for staff used in the transition. These expenses in the past have totaled over $1 million per transition.

United States Senators and Congressmen receive the same pay. In 2013 their annual salary was set at $174,000. Leaders of the House and Senate do receive more money for their services. The Majority and Minority Leaders of both the House and Senate have an annual salary of $193,400, while the Speaker of the House receives $223,500.

In addition to their annual salary, Members of the House of Representatives receive The Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) which helps to offset any expenses that come about from their duties such was office, personal and mailing expenses. These expenses vary depending on how far they live from Washington, DC and how much office space rental is in their home district. Expenses for mailings are based on how many mailing addresses are in their district. The funds for the MRA are set by the House each year as part of their federal budget. In 2012 the average MRA allowance for a Congressman was over $1.3 million.

The MRA stipulates that each Congressman can hire no more than 18 full time and 4 part time or temporary employees. The salary for any employee cannot exceed $168,411. All House members must submit a quarterly report of how they disbursed their MRA allowance.

Senators receive what is called The Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account or SOPOEA. This consists of allowances for three separate areas: the official office expense allowance; the legislative assistance allowance; and the administrative and clerical assistance allowance. The administrative and clerical assistance varies depending on how far the Senator lives from Washington, DC and the population of their state. The legislative assistance allowance is the same for all Senators. Each Senator’s mailing expenses are limited to $50,000 annually. The SOPOEA allowances are determined each year as part of the federal budget. The average amount per Senator in 2013 was just over $3.2 million.

The salary for governors is set by each individual state. In 2013 the governor with the highest salary was from New York, earning $179,000. Close behind were the governors of Illinois and Michigan who have a salary of $177,000. New Jersey and Virginia governors have an annual salary of $175,000.

On the other end of the spectrum is the governor of Maine who earns $70,000 each year. The next lowest is Arkansas with $86,890. The average salary for all governors in the nation is $133,348. Each state also sets what other benefits their governor receives.

How Many Members are in the House of Representatives

July 1, 2013

When it comes to instituting bills into law in the United States, there is a lengthy process that involves the bill being started in and passing through the House of Representatives, Senate and then to the White House where the president would sign the bill into law or veto the bill. When it comes to the House of Representatives, how many members are currently working in Washington, where did that number of people come from, and how it is determined the number that each state receives?

How many current members?

In the House of Representatives, there are 435 members that decide what bills and resolutions are brought up into discussion to become laws, make amendments to bills and to serve on committees. When elected, these individuals spread across the 50 states serve two-year terms before going back for re-election. Aside from the full-fledged members in the House that have the right to vote, there is a single delegate from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, District of Columbia, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands and a single resident commissioner from Puerto Rico that all have the same powers as members of the House. The only thing delegates and the resident commissioners can’t do is vote for a bill.

How number was decided?

Four hundred thirty five was the number determined to be the one needed in 1911 under Public Law 62-5. The number went into full effect in 1913 and has been used ever since.

What determines how many representatives each state receives?

When it comes to determining which state receives what number of representatives to total 435, it all comes down to the population of the state. In many cases, these totals increase and decrease by several positions throughout the years depending on the number of people moving in and out of certain locations.

Each state is entitled to at least one representative in the House and presently, there are seven states that have that number (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming). On the other side of that, California – the most populous state in the United States – has the most number of representatives with 53, followed by Texas with 36, New York and Florida with 27.

Requirements of being member of House of Representatives

To become a member of the House, a person needs to be at least 25-years-old. The person running for office also needs to be a United States citizen, whether at birth or through naturalization for at least seven years and needs to be an inhabitant in that state they are trying to represent. This is to prevent a person from New Mexico from trying to become a member of the House in Arizona and also to ensure that the person representing a district knows what is important to the people that reside in those towns they are being asked to speak for.

Committee’s in House of Representatives

The 435 members of the House have the chance to be included in any of the 20 standing committees that have different jurisdictions legislatively speaking. These committees have oversight responsibilities that require them to monitor programs, activities and agencies within their jurisdiction. The way the number of members for each committee is determine is by looking at the ratio of democrats to republicans in the House. If the house is 60 percent republican, for every four democrats on a committee in the House, there will be six republicans.

How to Become a Senator

June 29, 2013

Parents like to tell their children that they could be president some day. It might be more sensible to tell them they could be a senator. That would increase the odds by a factor of 100. Each state has two senators, and the District of Columbia has two shadow senators. They would presumably be seated in the senate if the District of Columbia ever becomes a state.

The Constitution states that the minimum age for senators is 30. They must have held citizenship for at least nine years before election as senator, and they must reside in the state they will represent. Joe Biden was one of a few senators who were elected at 29. He was 30 before the senate convened.

Even if a person meets the constitutional requirements, the families of elected government officials have a tremendous advantage when aspiring to the senate. The Kennedy dynasty immediately come to mind. Being the wife of an ex-president was a tremendous advantage for Senator Hillary Clinton.

Still, people with a very average background can be elected to the senate and even attain the presidency. President Barack Obama is the prime example.

Senator Barack Hussein Obama II

how to become a senatorBorn in Hawaii, Barack Hussein Obama II lived with his mother for several years Indonesia. By the fifth grade, Obama went back to Hawaii and lived there until he graduated from high school. Three years of that time he lived with his mother and sister. When his mother went back to Indonesia, he remained in Hawaii and lived with his maternal grandparents. He attended Occidental College in California, Columbia University in New York City and Harvard Law School.

After holding various jobs, he was elected Illinois State Senator in 1996. He was reelected in 1998 and 2002. He gave a rousing keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which gave him impetus in his senatorial campaign. In November 2004, he became U.S. Senator-elect Barack Obama.

Senator Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase was born in Maine in 1897. Her father was a barber and her mother worked as a clerk, waitress and factory worker. She graduated from high school in 1916. While in school, she held a part-time job in a five-and-dime store.

After graduation, she held various positions as a school teacher, telephone operator and circulation manager for the local newspaper. After holding other business positions, she married Clyde Smith, a local politician. As a result, she became active in politics. Clyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1937. Margaret went to Washington and became her husband’s secretary.

In 1940, Clyde had a serious heart attack. When he died, Margaret won a special election, which was held to fill his seat for the unexpired term in the house. She was reelected for four terms.

In 1948, she was elected as senator from Maine and the first woman U.S. Senator.

Senator Robert Alphonso Taft

Senator Robert Taft is the perfect example of the advantage held by close relatives of a political family. He was the son of President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft. While his father was Governor of the Philippines, Robert spent four years there. He excelled in scholarship, finishing first in his class at Yale and Harvard Law School. With 34 Harvard Law School Alumni having been U.S. Senators, the school appears to be a portal to the senate.

Robert worked several years as a lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as both Ohio Representative and Senator. Beginning in 1938, he began his three-term U.S. Senate career.

Robert had a son, who were also elected to the U.S. Senate. This again demonstrated the power of a political heritage and name recognition.

Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd

When Senator Robert Byrd died in 2010, he was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in history. Looking at his background, that seemed particularly unlikely. He was born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr. When his mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, he was adopted and raised and by his aunt and uncle, Titus and Vlurma Byrd. His name was changed to Robert Carlyle Byrd.

Raised in the coal fields of West Virginia, he worked as a clerk, butcher, welder and gas station attendant.

In his early years, he joined the Ku Klux Klan, which he later disavowed.

In 1946, he became a West Virginia State Representative. In 1950, he was elected State Senator. He served as U.S. Representative from 1953 to 1959 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958. Robert Byrd was another example of a senator who made it against all odds.

A child born today still has a chance to become a U.S. Senator. There are now several women senators, which helps the chances for girls. Parents sending their child to Harvard would also definitely increase their chances.

Lobbyist Salary

June 27, 2013

Lobbyists have the potential to earn a very admirable salary depending on experience level and nature of work. The lobbyist can produce earnings upward of $100,000 annually, although the average pay lands near the $45,000 range. Some people do not really know exactly what lobbyists do. What do lobbyists do for their money?

A lobbyist is a person who works on behalf of a client to persuade legislation that favors their employer. Most lobbyists are professionals that hold a political science or other related college degree. They lobby to political figures to influence various types of legislation. A simple way to describe a lobbyist is an activist that receives financial compensation for their work. Their sole purpose is to persuade members of government. Virtually every institution or interest group will have lobbyists. This is good news because you will be able to look virtually anywhere. But what if you are just starting out in this field?

Your location will affect the salary and the amount of jobs available to you. Living in a large city is a good first step. Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington D.C. host some of the highest paid lobbyists. Although you can be a successful lobbyist without living in the country’s capital. Since lobbying is a political venture, being in areas that have the most political influence will greatly enhance your employment opportunities. Being very knowledgeable about the legislative process is also extremely important. So what is the difference between higher and lower paid lobbyists?

As you can see, the earning potential varies widely. So how can you increase your earning potential? Unlike many types of employment that simply require attendance for a given amount of time, lobbying success depends greatly on having a good reputation and superior credibility. Industries that are particularly successful spend an incredible amount of money on lobbying. Industries like insurance, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas are among those at the top of the list. A lobbyist needs to make sure that any and all information and advice they give is honest and correct. The room for error is small. Whatever you do, make sure that you are very educated and honest about the lobbying you wish to do. Beyond that, the world of lobbying is yours to take.

How to Become a Congressman

June 27, 2013

Congress is a very prestigious place in the United States to serve. The power and recognition that go along with a seat in the House of Representatives is something that draws many in. If you are interested in becoming a congressman, there are some basics that you need to know.

Basic Eligibility

Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution clearly defines the basic eligibility requirements for a member of the House of Representatives. Each member must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be at least 25 years of age.
  • Have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
  • Be (at the time of the election) a resident of the state you are elected to represent.

As long as you meet those three requirements, you are legally allowed to become a congressman. However, that is definitely the easy part.

The Path to Congress

how to become a congressmanWhile pretty much any 25 year old American can technically be a congressman, the actual process of getting elected is something that very few people manage to successfully navigate.

If you want to have the biggest possible chance of becoming a congressman, there are few things you need to do extremely well.

  • Build an impressive resume: This one is key. Build up a list of accomplishments that shows voters you are someone to take seriously. Do things like get published, run businesses, volunteer, and hold any leadership position you possibly can.
  • Make connections: It isn’t just a matter of who you know, it’s a matter of who knows you. The only way that you will get elected to congress is if you can convince a majority of people in district to vote for you. To do this, you will have to befriend people, and hope that you can make a good enough impression on them that they not only vote for you, but convince their friends and family too as well.
  • Hold strong positions: If there is one thing that recent elections have shown us, it is that voters don’t like so called “flip floppers” who change their positions on issues based on current social trends. This is not only dishonest, but actually tends to drive away the supporters you already have.

If you want to read more about becoming a successful in politics, make sure you read our guide on how to become a politician.

From Candidate to Congressman

Once a candidate is thoroughly vetted and approved for the position of Congressman, the next step is for the candidate to select his/her political platform. A potential Congressional candidate must be able to support and validate this platform publicly to engender a majority vote among voters of his own party and the opposing party in an election. For instance, a Republican and Democratic candidate may be chosen from each voting district. Members of House of Representatives, with few exceptions are elected by their home districts. As a result, the party in power will seek to draw district boundaries distinctly to reduce the strength of their Congressional opponent. As each district’s voting populace chooses its desired Congressman/woman, the outcomes of these elections clearly show the party majority in the House of Representatives.

The Job of a Congressman

The Constitutional duty of a Congressman is to pass laws for the welfare of the entire nation as part of the legislative branch of the US government. However, Congressmen may legislate only on those matters specifically enumerated in the Constitution or implied by the “elastic clause.” Other duties of Congressmen include introducing bills of legislation and referring them to the appropriate committee. The committee will hold a hearing and may kill the bill or report it to the House of Representatives with or without changes. Congressmen can then debate the bill, defeat it or pass it with or without changes. Congressmen then forward the bill to the Senate for approval. Congressmen must be fully knowledgeable of the Constitution and duties of the House of Representatives.

How to Become a Judge

June 27, 2013

A great aspiration for many law students is to achieve a judgeship. The path to such a position is long, arduous, and not well understood. Below is a basic overview of the requirements, experience, and process needed to become a judge in the United States.

Educational Requirements

First, you are going to have to receive a bachelors from an accredited university. Ideally it would be in a subject such as political science, criminal justice, sociology, history, and the like. This is not a hard and fast requirement however, and almost any degree gives you the opportunity to be accepted into law school.

You now must take the LSAT. These are the standard entrance exams for SAT required for undergraduate studies. Given the extreme difficulty of being accepted into law school, it is important that you score highly on the LSAT. Study courses such as the Kaplan classes will aid you, but it is advised that you dedicate your own time to studying as well.

Speaking of law school, that is the next step. You must obtain a J.D., preferably near the top of your class. It is advisable to attend the most rigorous law school that accepts you, as this will allow you to better prepare yourself for a job in the legal world, and will make you more attractive to firms looking to hire. Once you have graduated, you must pass the bar exam for your state, and then find employment.

Experience Requirements

How to Become a JudgeAt this point, you have to find employment. One option is to apply for entry level positions at firms. These will provide you with steady work, the opportunity for advancement, and most importantly, valuable experience. Another option is to start a private practice. This essentially allows you to be your own boss, and can be a good option for small towns and cities, but the pay may not be as steady and you will have to build a good reputation over time. Finally, you can choose to become a prosecutor. This may not pay quite as well as a job with a firm, but the overwhelming majority of judges were prosecutors first. This also ensures that you spend a lot of time in the courtrooms, whereas an entry level position in a firm will likely have you in the office more often than not.

No matter the position you choose, you have to spend time becoming familiar with the way a courtroom works. You need to understand what makes a judge good or bad at his or her job, and you must know whether or not you truly want to pursue such a position. Additionally, at this point you must begin networking. Make a good impression with everybody you meet: it will aid you in the future. Assume that you are always being observed by those who will decide if you obtain a judgeship. Any display of temper or unprofessional behavior may affect your chances.

Obtaining a Judgeship

The process for obtaining a judgeship varies from state to state, but you will generally have to either apply through a judicial nominating commission or be recommended by another judge or elected official. At this point, the real fun begins. You will be scrutinized thoroughly, and you must be prepared to answer for every slight misdeed you have ever committed.

The chances of you receiving a judgeship on your first try are low, but don’t give up. Apply again and again. If you are denied, step up your game. Get to know your district judges well and appear in court as often as possible.

There is another way to become a judge if this process isn’t working out: popular vote. Some judgeships are awarded through democratic election, so if you have a solid reputation in your community, run for office. For this to work, you must be eloquent and charismatic, but it can be a great alternate path to a judgeship.

Overall, tenacity is key. Only the best of the best get accepted as judges, but if you work hard in school, make a great impression on those already in the judicial system, and have a patient mind, becoming a judge is within reach for you.