An important aspect of a political career is thoroughly understanding government and law. Colleges will have areas of emphasis and electives in order to customize a degree to fit certain needs. For example, when pursuing a Master of Political Science through the University of Nebraska-Omaha, there is a concentration in American Government and Politics. There is a required overview seminar, courses in the legislative and judicial processes, and electives in specific demographic politics, such as urban areas, women, and LGBT communities.
Leadership and political theory are common categories and provide important historical insight when looking at the development of ethics and policies throughout modern history. This includes analyzing what exactly government is, leadership roles within politics, and the impact they have on society. As an example, Boston University provides specific courses in these areas, and in addition, evaluating domination and liberation, gender and sexuality, and the enlightenment.
Common skills that are developed when pursuing higher education for a political career is research, critical thinking, and communication. Without question, understanding various research methods are important to succeed in any position. There must be a fundamental understanding on the needs of society and how to accurately collect that information. This data is used to create policies or to create an impactive campaign for a governor or mayor.
While gathering that information is important, there needs to be some analysis and critical thinking in order to fully understand complicated issues. Critical thinking requires looking beyond opinions and beliefs that are partisan and diving into evidenced-based research. For example, this provides an opportunity to gather more moderate viewpoints when creating a campaign message. It is vital to understand all aspects of a particular issue.
It is very helpful to have solid communication skills not only when gathering data through interviews and surveys for a campaign, but also when influencing policymakers and informing the media and public on these issues. Presentation skills are also needed in meetings, group functions, or other persuasive situations. This has evolved onto social media, learning to engage and connect with a growing number of people creating accounts and profiles. It is important to take into consideration the specific algorithm in Twitter or Facebook, such as benefiting with direct interaction and how it is tailored to specific users.
Political Career Opportunities
Public Administration Careers
Survey researchers aim to provide their client specific data needed to run a particular campaign or to lobby for a new policy. Once all the information is gathered, surveying methods such as polling, interviewing, and focus groups are planned out to receive the quickest and most accurate information. This data is analyzed and fact-checked before returning to the client, which are often political campaigns and activist groups. At least a Bachelor’s degree is needed for this position as concepts and theory learned from higher education is recommended.
Oversees the entire operation of any political or advertising campaign, with numerous duties in determining the schedule and tasks required to meet goals, making sure the group is following budget restrictions, and assisting with any needs in a particular part of the campaign. Regardless of politics or marketing, the goal is to capture an audience’s attention and beating out the competition. This position is seeing an eight percent growth between 2018-28 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Consulting firms provide an avenue for political campaigns to receive vital information for their campaign. While they can research and use data, this differs from market research as it can provide more structural support, such as what strategies or methods to use when building a foundation, and they typically work closer with the client, helping to interpret information more than distributing data.
Salaries in Politics
Political positions can hold fairly high salaries across the nation, with the largest salaries being represented by the President of the United States, Vice President, the panel of Supreme Court Justice, and lobbyists, with all positions making well over $200,000 annually. Governors and senators on average make around that mark with some deeper roles, like the Speaker of the House, making over the $200,000 salary point, but the governors’ pay can range significantly based on location.
For the larger portion of those within the political landscape, many state legislator and local officials that are working full time are making under the six-figure mark, and that falls even more drastically when reviewing part-time legislature positions. This is not always the case, however, as some of the major cities like New York City and San Francisco, California, see salaries above $250,000.