Are you someone looking to make a difference? Perhaps you have a deep interest in government, or maybe you’re just looking for a way to uplift your local community. If either of these desires apply to you, you may want to consider a career in politics. While stressful and demanding, life as a politician can also be eye-opening and fulfilling. So if you want to learn how to become a politician, read on!
Your Career in Politics: This is How You Start
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1. Get a Degree
Before you start your career in politics, it is highly recommended that you first get a university degree. By having a degree, you can prove to voters that you have knowledge about current affairs and political structure. This will help make voters more inclined to vote for you.
On a deeper level, the lessons that you’ll learn in college may help you to understand certain political issues. Many areas of study, from political science to business, include material on topics that you will encounter during your political career.
Some degrees that are extremely useful for aspiring politicians include political science, business, theatre, law, history, math, statistics, philosophy, and economics.
2. Research the Requirements
Before starting a campaign, you’ll need to understand what requirements you need to meet in order to be eligible to hold a position in the office. This includes determining what documents are required in order to file for candidacy and if there are certain issues that disqualify you from holding office, such as having a criminal record.
These requirements vary depending on what office you are running for. For example, in order to be the President of the United States, you have to be a U.S. citizen who was born in the United States, a resident in the United States for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older.
Before starting your own campaign, it would be a good idea to get some political experience as well as develop a reputation. One very effective way to do this is by getting involved in an NGO. By doing so, you will be able to learn more about some of the issues affecting your community and lend a helping hand.
Volunteering will help you to build a reputation as a kind and trustworthy person in the eyes of voters. It will also help you to align your own platform with the things that people care about.
Finally, volunteering will give you the chance to meet like-minded people who may be of assistance to you in your career later on.
4. Affiliate yourself politically
In order to have any real chance of winning an election, you will need to join a political party. Many voters view candidates who are part of a political party as being more credible. There are also many voters who are loyal to a specific political party, and may not vote for you if you do not belong to that party.
Beyond this, joining a political party will also give you the opportunity to meet like-minded politicians. This will allow you to expand your network with more people who you can call upon for donations and endorsements when the time comes.
5. Work on someone else’s campaign
This will give you another great opportunity to network with other political activists, as well as practice your skills. By doing the grunt work in someone else’s campaign, you will develop an understanding of all of the activities that go into running a political campaign. This will better prepare you for running your own campaign.
By doing the grunt work yourself, you will also be seen as more relatable to voters. This will help you to develop an appreciation for all the people who may one day work on your campaign.
6. Build your team
This is the stage when you’ll put together a team of people who will help you run your campaign. It is important that you choose people who are knowledgeable, skilled, and most importantly, trustworthy. Remember, it’s the people you choose to be a part of your team who will be the ones to provide you with advice when you need it.
Some of the roles that will need to be filled include a campaign manager, a communications manager, and a finance director, among others.
7. Get involved
Now that you are preparing to launch your campaign, you will need to make sure that you are up to date on your community’s issues.
In order to better understand the local political climate, you can attend town hall and community board meetings. These meetings will allow you to see what issues are currently affecting the members of your community. It will also give you a look into how local government operates.
Using your knowledge that you have gained so far, it is now time to decide which issue you would like to use as the main platform for your campaign. This should be an issue that you are passionate about, as well as something that is important to voters. Choose an issue carefully, as this issue will be the main driving force that pushes your campaign forward.
Once you have chosen an issue, you will need to get some public speaking experience. While having an effective campaign is important, voters will still want to vote for the person they like the most. Delivering good speeches with a calming demeanor and warm smile will help convince voters that you are the right candidate for the job. You can practice your public speaking at political gatherings or even chat casually with strangers.
Finally, you need to make sure that you have enough money to afford to run a campaign. There are a number of costs that you will have to consider, such as travel costs, paying your team, and advertisements.
Once you are sure that you can afford to run your campaign, it is also important to make sure that you have sufficient life savings. There are a lot of unexpected events that could happen in an election, from losing the campaign to incurring unexpected costs. Having enough money saved away can help you to recover from any problems you may encounter.
8. Work on your campaign
Before you are able to officially launch your campaign, you will need to develop a plan. Decide which issues you will be focusing on, and make sure to develop a stance on each one. Decide which voter segments you will be targeting. You will also need to decide how you will get the word out about your candidacy. This may require a detailed marketing plan.
You will also need to hire campaign staff. While you may have already chosen your advisors, you will need a dedicated team of people to carry out the grunt work of your campaign. Make sure that you hire the right people as campaigning can take a toll on your life.
Finally, you will need to find financial backers who can help you cover campaign expenses. From printing posters to paying staff members, there are a lot of expenses you will have to consider that you probably won’t be able to cover all on your own.
Make sure to network with affluent people. A lot of the political connections that you have made so far may come in handy for this reason. Reach out to wealthy friends, business associates, and fellow party members about making campaign donations.
How do you want to present yourself in public? Find a persona
In order to convince the public to vote for you, you will need to be an effective public speaker. While getting as much practice as possible is important, you will also need to look good on stage during debates. Having a winning smile, warm demeanor, and conviction will help you to assure voters that you are the right candidate for the job.
The next step is to suit up! Before getting up on the debate stage, you need to look the part. Make sure to be well-groomed and wear the right suit and tie or dress. Smart shoes are also important! People will start to analyze you as soon as you step into the limelight, so make a great first impression!
The debate stage is not the only place where you might make a public appearance. You may also find yourself appearing on television and in the news, so be camera friendly. This means that you need to keep that winning smile and stay on high alert so that you don’t make any slip-ups in front of the media.
Remember that politicians are treated just like celebrities and are constantly in the public eye. Make sure that you can handle talking to the press and prepare yourself for any scandals that they might try to stir up about you.
One of the key ingredients to maintaining a great image is having a solid opinion. If you are sure of your beliefs, you will consequently instill confidence in your voter base. Not only do you need to have a clear stance on issues, but you also need to be prepared to defend your stance in the face of criticism.
Develop your skills
While there will be a lot of instances where you learn on the job, it can’t hurt to get some training before launching your campaign. There are a number of organizations out there that train political candidates in communication, marketing, fundraising, and staffing.
How long does it take to become a politician?
There is no specific amount of time that it takes to become a politician. Elections on local, state, and federal levels are all different, so the answer depends on the type of election as well as the circumstances of the candidates who are running.
How much does a politician make per year?
This depends on what job you’re talking about.
The President of the United States makes $400,000 per annum.
Members of U.S. Congress — which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate — make approximately $174,000 annually.
State Governors can earn anywhere from $70,000 to more than $200,000 per year, however, this varies depending on which state they govern.
Mayors’ salaries differ wildly depending on which city they work for. While the Mayor of San Francisco earns $301,000 annually, some mayors of small towns make incredibly small salaries. Allen Jones, the mayor of Winston-Salem, makes only $8,400 per annum. This is because his job as mayor is less demanding and is only a part-time job.
City councilors often don’t take home a salary, but those who do can make anywhere between $50,000 to $180,000 per annum.
Are you an aspiring female politician?
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If you are a prospective female politician looking to make a difference, there are a number of organizations that you can turn to for training and support.
An organization focused on empowering progressive female candidates. Some of the many forms of support it provides include speechwriting, marketing, accounting, fundraising advice, social media, and more.
Seeks to provide female election candidates with training and support. In addition to in-person training, be sure to check out the She Should Run Incubator — a series of online courses designed to guide female candidates through each step of their campaigns.
An organization that aims to support Democratic female candidates. In addition to in-person training seminars, Emily’s List provides other forms of assistance including online courses and a Facebook group.
Best Degrees For Politicians
1. Political Science
One degree that comes highly recommended is a degree in political science. This will afford you the opportunity to learn about government structures, the history of politics, and modern political issues.
You may also learn about a lot of issues that you’ll encounter when running your own campaign. What’s great about pursuing a political science degree is that you’ll get the chance to meet other like-minded people. It also provides a path to law school.
Studying a business degree is also a great idea. This degree will teach you many of the skills that you will need when running your campaign, such as setting budgets and managing staff members.
Consider studying business administration through a 100% online, high-quality university such as the University of the People. This way, you’ll be able to set your own schedule and make sure you have the time to follow the other steps to becoming a politician as well.
Law is also a great field of study to pursue. In law, you will learn about the law-making process and come to understand what laws must be followed when governing. Law-making is one of the main functions of politicians.
While it may seem unconventional, theater can also be useful for becoming a politician. This is because a degree in theater will teach you public speaking skills and help you to become comfortable with performing in front of others. This field will help you develop your public image.
A degree in history will definitely help you to understand the ways in which politicians and governments have behaved in the past. By understanding past actions, you will be able to gain insight into which decisions prove successful and which do not. You will also develop great writing and verbal skills.
A math degree is another viable option. Math will help you develop many of the administrative skills that you will need while on the campaign trail, such as budgeting, keeping financial records, and determining whether an action you want to take is a financially-sound move.
The economy always remains an important issue in any election, so knowledge of economic theory and how the economy operates will always come in handy.
What’s great about philosophy is that it teaches you how to think, prepare arguments, and provide answers. This skill will come in handy on the debate stage as well as in front of the media.
Now that you have read the step-by-step guide on how to become a politician, you can start planning your political career and go about making a difference!