Political campaigns, whether high profile or low-profile, can be tiresome and grueling, especially when they don’t lead to a victory. Political campaign managers are hired by political aspirants to spearhead their campaigns and ensure an electoral win. If you are a skilled planner with a background in political science, then you might have what it takes to steer an aspiring town clerk, governor, senator or president into office.
What do political campaign managers do?
Their primary tasks include:
- Collaborating with the aspirant to formulate the message of the campaign – the message contains the ideas the candidate wants to share with the electorate
- Creating and executing effective campaign strategies – this involves identifying voting blocs and organizing campaign rallies
- Hiring and supervising a campaign staff that may include political organizers, public relations and communications specialists, campaign coordinators and demographers.
- Organizing and planning fundraising activities
- Managing the campaign budget
- Managing communications with party members and other politicians
- Ensuring campaigning activities adhere to relevant electoral laws.
A political campaign manager’s day may begin as early as 6am and end as late as 12 at night. Their brief is to secure an election win, so working long hours including weekends is worth the effort.
Although these managers are based in the campaign’s headquarters where they formulate strategies, they spend most of their time on the road attending political rallies with their employers.
The following table highlights the annual average salary for political campaign managers. Of course, the wages can vary significantly depending on experience and previous successes:
Political campaign manager
Source: Simply Hired
To prepare yourself for this job, you should earn a bachelor’s degree in political science. The program will enhance your knowledge of the systems of government and the operation of political systems. If you are, however, unable to pursue this degree, you can also enter the profession through any of the following disciplines:
- Public relations
- Fundraising management
After earning the degree, you can find an entry-level job your field to gain some relevant experience.
Besides the education, you should possess the following competencies:
- An interest in politics and governance
- Superior personnel management and leadership skills
- A strong sense of business
- Strong planning and organizing skills
- Excellent communication and teamwork skills
- Strong creative thinking skills
- Determination and the drive to achieve at all costs
- Computer proficiency and Internet skills
- Good networking skills
To break into campaign management, it is advisable to start by volunteering in local or regional political campaigns. You should demonstrate your expertise in order to rise to influential ranks such as fundraising or campaign coordinator.
During this time, you can attend training sessions organized by the American University’s Campaign Management Institute. You will receive additional training in managing local, state and federal political campaigns, and, as a result, improve your chances of becoming a campaign manager.
After landing the job, consider pursuing a master’s degree in elections and campaign or political management. The George Washington University and Fordham University are some of the institutions that offer this program.
Besides being hired by people running for political office, you could also find fulltime employment in political parties and campaign management firms.
After gaining vast experience and building your reputation (preferably by a masterminding a local or regional election win), you stand a greater chance of leading a presidential campaign. Many experienced campaign managers also move into self-employment and establish their own political consulting or campaign management firms.
Lastly, how good are your job prospects? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of people with knowledge of political systems will grow by 21 percent through 2022, faster than the 11 percent average for all jobs. The demand for campaign managers particularly hits the roof during election periods.
So if you believe you can work behind the scenes to help political aspirants win an election, then it may be worth pursuing a career in campaign management.