How to Become a Politician

Politician Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $96,820
Avg. Pay / hour $46.55
Education 3-4 Years
Job Outlook 6.1%

A politician has the power to make their community, their country, and even the world a better place.

The policies they make, remove, or change help to shape society.

They can invigorate education systems, help improve health services, and keep an economy in good shape, just to name a few.

If you are intrigued by the world of politics, have a confident manner and are an avid wordsmith, and want to help shape your country for the better, then you might like to become a politician.

There is much more to politics than policy making.

Becoming a politician can be competitive.

You will need to rise through the ranks of a political party to become a public leader, and also be elected by the people.

When you become a politician, you also become a public figure.

This means that you will likely live your life in the spotlight, and will have very few secrets.

Education Requirements to Become a Politician

There is no education pathway to follow when you decide to become a politician.

However, you will definitely need some formal education, life experience, as well as professional networking to work in politics.

A good place to start is by researching some politicians you are interested in.

Have a look at the kind of degrees they’ve earned and the path they took before working in politics.

Most politicians have degrees in law, economics, or business.

You can also complete a degree in politics or international relations.

A good idea is to simply follow your own interests at college.

A postgraduate degree obtained later will be held in high regard.

Becoming involved with a political party is a good idea if you want to become a politician.

Learn about the parties, and find out which one best represents your interests if you don’t already know.

Volunteer to help out with events and campaigns.

You may like to contact a local politician and speak to them about your interests in politics.

They may turn out to be an excellent career mentor.

Life experience is important as a politician.

While there are some people that enter politics in their twenties, many people enter the field later in life.

They may work behind the scenes earlier on, or have a different career path entirely.

Politician Job Description

A politician is a policy maker.

They act, as the elected representative of the people, to make, change, and remove policies that relate to how a government runs a state or country.

Politicians will also negotiate with other politicians, within their own party, other parties, or even from another country.

Not all politicians work full-time.

While a senator may work 60 hours a week, a council member may only sit once every couple of weeks.

Politicians always serve a set term before they must be reelected.

It’s usually about four years.

Here are some of the duties of a politician:

  • Running a campaign
  • Policy making
  • Negotiations
  • Public appearances

Politician Salary and Career Path

Most politicians start their career in another field and then later in life, decide to enter politics.

They may be a business person, a government employee, or a teacher.

They can come from any background at all.

Some have an interest in politics all their life and work in the field until they are ready to run a campaign.

They may work as a political researcher, a political strategist, or as a support person in a political campaign.

The salary of a politician can vary greatly.

For instance, a person working at a local level may earn $40,000 a year.

A state governor may earn over $400,000 a year.

Generally governors and senators earn a lot more than people who are working at a local or state level.

There are many jobs that politicians may enter after they leave politics, or even work within before they become a politician.

These include:

While the salary can be quite high, the road to politics can be a treacherous one so this is not a job you want to get into for the money.

However, if you’re looking for a job that can make a real difference in your community and your country, you may like to become a politician.

Many find their political careers a very rewarding experience.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$126,210
New Hampshire$85,010
New York$114,400
South Carolina- NA -

The top earning state in the field is Virginia, where the average salary is $143,150.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Virginia - $143,150
Michigan - $141,780
Maryland - $140,850
District of Columbia - $126,210
California - $119,160
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Political Scientists, OCC Code 19-3094, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a politician do?

In a nutshell, politicians make important decisions that shape our society.

It is a public sector job suited for those who want to make a difference.

Of course, there are a lot of levels of politics and your responsibilities will differ a lot depending on the position and the sector.

However, all politicians should be ready to travel the world and meet a large number of different people.

The main aim of every politician is to add voice to public demands and concerns.

The typical day-to-day tasks will differ depending on the status; however, the absolute majority of politicians represent their constituents; make unbiased, balanced decisions; hear testimony from the public; commission members and representatives about proposals; respond to public inquiries; confer with colleagues; make public appearances; serve on committees, and so on.

How much do politicians make?

The salary of a politician would certainly depend on the status.

Local elected officials, for example, can make over $200.000 per year, in case they are the mayors of big cities.

Mayors of smaller cities earn less than $100.000 annually.

The average salary of a county executive-level position is nearly $200.000.

At the state level, full-time elected lawmakers earn a little more than $80.000.

In case you want to become a governor, you can expect to earn anywhere between $70.000 and over $190.000.

The base salary of the members of the U.S Senate and House of Representatives is $174.000 per year.

The president is paid $400.000 annually.

How much does it cost to become a politician?

You do not necessarily need a degree to become a politician, because, after all, it is mostly the personal qualities that matter.

However, in a lot of cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in law, government, public policy, business administration or a related field, in order to become a successful politician.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

What is the demand for politicians?

The politician job market will most likely remain the same, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Working opportunities will be mostly found at the state and local levels.

Bear in mind that the federal level has less than 600 jobs (including the top positions).

Politics is an extremely competitive field; only those with outstanding personal qualities will be able to win the votes and succeed on their career path.

How long does it take to become a politician?

In case you decide to go for a bachelor’s degree, you would need 4 years to obtain one.

A lot of future politicians can start by working full-time in other fields to have an idea of how the spheres work from the inside.

On-the-job training and at least a few years of experience are incredibly important; you can work for an established politician, build networks and acquire the necessary information.

Aspiring politicians would certainly have to work their way up through the ranks; the path may take decades.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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