Politicians have busy schedules. They must attend to legislative matters, keep tabs on political issues as they unfold, develop strategies for re-election and, at the same time, stay in touch with constituents. As a result, they hire political aides to help them navigate their political duties. If you have an interest in politics and governance, and you’re good at analyzing issues, you could become a political aide.
What do political aides do?
The primary duties of political aides include:
- Preparing political speeches for their bosses
- Conducting research on legislative issues and keeping the politician informed
- Advising the politician on various political, social and governance issues
- Preparing and issuing press releases
- Accompanying the politician to political debates and other issues
- Staying abreast of political developments in the politician’s constituency or home district
Importantly, being a political aide involves more than just executing these duties. You should demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the politician’s values and long-term vision. You must be prepared to defend him or her in the face of public criticism.
Political aides work full time, usually from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. However, they often work late into the evening and during the weekend, depending on the politician’s political schedule.
Political aides spend most of their workday in the politician’s public or private offices.
The job may involve extensive domestic and international travel, especially if you work for a senior elected politician, such as a senator.
The following table highlights the states with the highest salaries for political aides:
Illinois & Texas
Source: Salary Expert
The first step, to becoming a political aide, is to earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields:
- Political science
- International relations
- Social administration
Of these disciplines, political science should be your top priority as it enhances your knowledge of politics, political systems and governance. This is what many politicians look for when hiring aides.
To gain some relevant experience, you can volunteer at a political organization or congressional office. Also, it is important to attend as many political events as possible. This enhances your chances of meeting with politicians, some who may be looking to hire political aides.
The skills and abilities you need to excel as a political aide include:
- A genuine interest in politics and governance
- Strong communication skills
- Good networking skills
- Skills in policy analysis
- Strong research skills
- Tact and diplomacy
- Independence and trustworthiness
- Good interpersonal skills
- Good planning, multitasking and organizing skills
- Good presentation skills
- The confidence to deal with lobbyists and other professionals
Your networking skills can play a vital role in helping you land this job. Although many politicians hire during the run-up to an election, you should begin building contacts with politician or their personal assistants as soon you secure the relevant qualifications.
After getting hired, you will work with a team of other aides, and together, strategize on how to make the politician effective. If the politician wins an election, you stand a higher chance of securing other senior jobs.
To improve ready yourself for these senior jobs, you can pursue a master’s degree in political science or a closely related field. The American Political Science Association also runs training workshops that could suit your career.
As an aspiring political aide, you can be hired by all breeds of politicians, from mayors to house representatives, senators, or even the president.
Some experienced aides often progress to become policy analysts. Others move into campaign management, or private practice where they establish political consulting firms.
Finally, the demand for political aides is not high since they can only work for politicians. However, not many graduates pursue this profession, so the few who pursue it are left with good employment prospects. This career also enables you to build contacts with influential figures who could help you secure government jobs.
Fancy this job? Now you know what it takes to get it. Good luck!