Political Consultant: Job Description & Salary

Learn about the career of a political consultant, including what education, work experience and key skills you need to become one. The salary and job outlook you can expect will also be covered. Schools offering Political Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Political consultants are vital to political campaigns. They support political candidates in communicating their message to the public, help them build their public image, respond to negative press, and secure the financial side of things through fundraising. Find out how to get into the field and what it takes to succeed. The following table highlights some of the basic information regarding education and career statistics.

Degree Required No particular requirement, but at least a bachelor's is highly recommended
Education Field of Study Political science, communication
Key Skills Interpersonal, psychology, communication, writing, networking, analytical, fundraising, resourcefulness, creativity, resilience
Job Growth (2016-2026) 11% (political scientists)*
Median Annual Wage (2017) $115,110 (political scientists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Political Consultants Do?

Political consultants manage politicians' election campaigns and play a key role in helping them get elected. They decide how best to communicate the candidate's message to the public, and develop media strategies that aim to cast them in the best possible light. This communication is typically done through planning public events, organizing press conferences, and writing and distributing press releases. Political consultants can also be responsible for placing political advertisements while ensuring the campaign doesn't exceed its budget.

In addition to communicating their candidate's messages, political consultants research the opposition, monitor any negative news about a candidate and coach them in their responses.

Political consultants may also be in charge of fundraising for a campaign. This involves planning fundraising events, contacting previous donors, and following up with those that have pledged donations.

What Education Do I Need to Become a Political Consultant?

You do not need a particular degree to become a political consultant, and experience in the field as well as talent can be considered more valuable. That said, becoming a successful political consultant requires an extremely strong understanding of political processes as well as the media industry, and advanced education is certainly helpful.

Some political scientists work as political consultants, a profession that typically requires a Master's degree or PhD in political sciences, administration or a related field.

How Do I Gain Experience To Enter the Field?

Politics can be a hard field to break into, and political consultancy is no different. Starting salaries are often low, and the hours long. And even to get those first, low-paying jobs, you have to already demonstrate a strong interest in politics, for example by first volunteering for your local government or a charity. Start networking by offering your help to local councils and at community events, and once you have made some contacts, keep asking for volunteer and paid positions with people whose political work you are passionate about.

What Key Skills Do I Need to Develop?

A political consultant needs to communicate with people and know how to get a message across, therefore strong interpersonal and communication skills are vital, and so is an affinity for networking. You also need a strong understanding of political processes, current affairs, and the ability to respond well to unexpected twists and turns, so analytical skills together with creativity and an ability to process information quickly are also important. Lastly, political campaigns can be stressful and entail long work hours, so resilience is another important trait.

What Income and Job Growth Can I Expect?

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific figures for political consultants, the closest listed occupation is that of political scientist, with a median salary of $115,110 a year as of 2017. Jobs for political scientists are expected to grow by 11% between 2016 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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