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In an ever-evolving modern society, very few fields offer the diversity and challenge of the political stage. If being on the frontlines of where policy is formulated, analysed and made into legislation sounds like your dream job, then you have just clicked your way to your future.
The incredible range of politics-related careers, both in the limelight and behind the scenes, make it a field with a plethora of opportunities and roles, and a great industry to look at when choosing a career. Starting from campaign volunteers, interns and staffers, all the way up to the highest of elected offices and posts, there’s a career in politics to match your wants at any stage of your professional progression.
Being one of the most ruthless industries to survive in, politics compensates with infinite possibilities and job satisfaction and makes it worthwhile with some very highly paid and long-term careers in the job market.
Without further ado, let’s look at the 17 highest-paying careers in politics.
There’s probably something you’ll find interesting and a few you’ll absolutely love in the list below!
17. Civil Servant
Civil servants are permanent government employees that carry over from administration to administration. Qualifications required vary depending on the position and the seniority of the post, but entry requirements usually include success in an entrance examination.
Roles vary from department to department, and civil servants are usually careered government employees who move through and up the ranks of pay scale and position.
Average salary: £27,000 / $34,870
16. Policy Analyst
Average salary: £27,000 / $34,870
A policy analyst researches, collects, classifies and analyses a variety of data concerning policies. Not to be confused with policy advisors, analysts evaluate this data and create reports to assist in policy development and various strategies, including media and PR.
Engaging both their qualitative and quantitative analytical skills, they provide policymakers with a clear and unbiased picture of the outcomes of a policy, developing models measuring performance, reaction and effects.
Average salary: £35,000 / $45,220
A career diplomat is a key element of an administration’s international presence and international relations policy. Depending on seniority, they range from entry-level personnel in the country’s foreign service all the way up to ambassadors.
An ideal career for those who like to travel and learn new languages and cultures, posts range in duration from a few months to a few years, with many career diplomats have gone on to take other posts in international organisations and become senior aides to the head of government.
14. Security Specialist
Average salary: £36,000 / $46,490
This is perhaps one of the most multifaceted jobs in politics, as it’s a combination of brains, brawn and alertness. The role involved conducting extensive background checks on a variety of people that are in contact with the office which the specialist serves. These may range from employees, visitors, friends and family.
Additionally, they are responsible for planning and executing a security strategy for their boss, establishing the safety of a venue, a detailed arrival and departure plan, and threat management and response.
They are the head of the politician’s security detail and sometimes even their bodyguard. Usually former military personnel, they may be randomly assigned to a post or be recruited by the postholder or their advisors.
13. Media Strategist
Average salary: £43,740 / $56,500
Along with the communications director, the media strategist is the person responsible for the overall image of the agency or administration. Under their direction, the media strategy indicates who the office holder will interview with, in what tone and to which end the media presence serves.
Responsible for projects from campaign advertising to ‘packaging’ platforms and policies to be publicised, and with a strong network in local and international media, they have a key job in politics. Successfully integrating policy and communication, they are masters in both.
Average salary: £46,500 / $60,070
A journalist deals with the research, writing and distribution of news and information. Depending on the type of media the journalist is working with and their speciality, they can have assignments ranging from field correspondent to show host.
While entry salaries are in the mid-$20,000 range, they can go all the way up to the millions, like CNN’s British-Iranian journalist and anchor Christiane Amanpour, who with over 25 years’ experience receives an annual salary of about $2 million (£1.5 million).
With at least one university degree under their belts, journalists may decide to pursue additional degrees to specialise in a specific field.
Average salary: £46,500 / $60,070
The absolute numbers person in politics is a statistician. From polling numbers to economic figures, a statistician is essential in the political life of a country. They crunch numbers to calculate probability, possibility, votes, and socio-political and economic trends.
They research and analyse data to go hand in hand with the work of the administration, providing the empirical results and effects of various projects and policies with the use of various mathematical processes and applications and specialised software.
10. Public Relations Specialist
Average salary: £54,000 / $69,760
A public relations specialist is the person responsible for a politician’s public image and activities, promoting the role they wish to embody in the candidate and aiding in the furthering of their agenda and policies.
They draft press releases, approve accompanying visual material, analyse and improve the image of the person or office they are employed to serve. They may be called to action in assisting in the diffusion of a crisis in the media regarding their employer.
Their salaries vary depending on the experience of the specialist, the level of the political person or office they serve and, of course, the period in the electoral calendar they are going through.
Average salary: £55,000 / $71,060
Economists are ever present in the political arena. Whether within an administration, as special advisors or even in business functions, they combine two of the greatest social sciences, politics and economics, to examine the impact of policies and to advise on the formulation of new ones.
Specialised political economy degree programmes are offered by some of the most prestigious universities in the world as the two sciences are intertwined in many ways, effecting and affecting each other throughout history!
8. Communications Director
Average salary: £60,000 / $77,490
Former media strategists and PR specialists have gone on to become communications directors in the political arena. They are hardened and successful professionals who have mastered the art of political communications.
They’re responsible for all internal and external communications of an administration or agency, often also being the first to go in crisis situations. On the flipside, a good communications director can be even more indispensable than the office holder themselves.
Average salary: £62,500 / $80,750
As in large organisation, political entities and governments have their own legal counsels. Be it legal aides to chief justices and ministers, lawyers are ever present in politics, acting as upholders of laws and the constitution to helping to formulate laws and amendments, developing policy and authoritatively deciding the legality of policies and actions.
With chief justices and senior legal counsels making well over $200,000 (£153,470), the profession is quite well represented in politics, and lawyers often pursue their own careers in politics, rising to even the highest office of state.
6. Policy Advisor
Average salary: £66,085 / $85,360
Most political science or international relations majors dream of ultimately becoming esteemed policy advisors. They’re the people that formulate, manage and establish the policies and direction of an agency or administrative office.
They’re also the same people on the opposite side of the table who will formulate counter-policies or a complete offensive strategy to a policy that is not on the agenda of their employer.
They possess strong research and analytical skills and an extensive mastery of their scope of politics. They’re the officeholders’ primary consultants in every policy decision.
Average salary: £85,080 / $109,920
Lobbyists are the movers and shakers in policymaking. They’re part of national and international organisations who are funded by groups and corporations to influence policy and legislation.
Working within or alongside strong networks, they are probably the single most effective non-government player in politics. The extensive and expansive funding they receive help them employ the crème de la crème in their scope of interest, and they are a prominent force to be reckoned with to any administration.
4. Campaign Manager
Average salary: £86,140 / $111,280
Campaign managers run the show for the years leading up to an election. They’re what you would call operations managers in a business environment. They lead an array of volunteers and staffers through the planning and execution of the campaign strategy and report to the candidate with results, polls and panning.
Depending on the type and seniority of the political campaign they are managing, the average salary of campaign managers is in the $54,000 (£41,430) range. However, the bigger the campaign and its significance, the bigger the rewards, with Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and her company reportedly netting $1.9 million (£1.5 million) from the presidential candidate’s campaign management.
3. Chief of Staff
Average salary: £108,330 / $140,000
The chief of staff is one of the most rigorous and prestigious political positions after the office holder. They’re responsible for the efficient and effective running of the office, staffing and agenda, and they are the right-hand person to the office holder.
Nothing happens in an administration without the chief of staff’s involvement and consulting. They are often referred to as the operations director of the executive branch. Many qualified campaign managers have gone ahead to become chiefs of staff in the administrations they helped elect.
2. Press Secretary
Average salary: £133,180 / $172,000
A press secretary is the connecting link between the organisation or political office holder and the press corps. They’re responsible for delivering political news and updates to the Media, both for the local and international arena, and answering questions on behalf of the administration.
They’re required to be widely and correctly informed on a variety of issues and be in the position to handle or deflect unexpected and potentially dangerous questions from journalists. Press secretaries are masters in the use of the official language of the administration and usually a few other languages. In some instances, they may also be a speechwriter.
Nerves of steel, composure and diplomacy are key personal qualities of press secretaries, and some posts require 24/7 availability and flexibility.
1. President / Prime Minister
Average salary: £232,260 / $300,000
Pretty self-explanatory, the office of the president or prime minister is the highest state position in politics, responsible for creating foreign and domestic policy. In the cases where there is a reigning monarchy, the postholder could either be elected via public vote or selected by representatives of the public or the Crown.
While the prime minister of the UK earns around £145,000 ($188,990), the median salary for a head of government in the international arena is about $300,000 (£230,180), not including other added bonuses such as housing, travel and entertainment.
While no specific educational qualifications are a prerequisite for the job, most politicians are either career politicians who rise in rank or notable community and business leaders who can formulate a wide-reaching agenda and can better unite the public under their leadership.
Anthony Scaramucci, best known as the shortest serving White House Communications Director with a measly six-day tenure, said of politics in his 2018 Vanity Fair interview: ‘I want you to imagine the worst person that you've met on Wall Street, the most ruthless and the most diabolical. That's the best person in Washington’. While perhaps a little too over the top and bitter, he wasn’t completely wrong, as politics both in the local and international arena is a cutthroat jungle, and survival mode is fully engaged.
It takes a special kind of person to be on the frontlines of politics and to forge a long-lasting political career, but the rewards from being a part of history and policy are too valuable to put a price tag on.
Do you work in any of these fields? Are you more of an aspiring politician or a behind-the-scenes master? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by the National Careers Service and the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 2 November 2018.