In New Hampshire, it’s safe to say that “Opportunity Knocks” for those of us who are captivated by the political process. Home to the country’s first primary election, the Granite State is less than 10,000 square miles in space but much larger in its effect on the political process.
And that’s why during peak election season, the average New Hampshire resident could attend one of at least ten events a day going on around the state. This flurry of political activity draws people from around the region like Julia Glidden from Maine who spent the 2016 election season driving around the state in order to meet politicians face to face. New Hampshire was also visited during the last Presidential election by people from the Netherlands like Onno Maas who journeyed here the last three election cycles in order to witness what he calls an amazing example of direct democracy.
But what about those wishing not only to attend events, but also work for political candidates? Is a career in politics a promising one? Is there room to grow? What is the pay? How about the schedule?
Political Job Descriptions & Salary
Bridget Quigg points out in a recent article for Monster that “you don’t have to run for office to land a great job in the political space.” Here is her breakdown of the salary of and job descriptions for various political jobs:
Speechwriter Median Annual Salary: $136,000
The best-paid job on the list is one of the toughest to get full time. Hays says these coveted speechwriter positions exist only on presidential campaigns or on campaigns for senior public officials. “A governor might have a speechwriter who is also their press secretary,” he says. “To be a wholly specialized speechwriter you have to be part of a big shop.”
Lobbyist Median Annual Salary: $89,700
Give them a cause and they’ll take it to the decision makers. Lobbyists need to be excellent networkers and persuasive speakers. They stay in the middle of the mix and make deals happen for the causes, industries or groups they represent.
“As a lobbyist, you present an argument like any citizen could,” says Hays. “But, [decision makers] are more likely to listen to you because you have an established relationship and you’ve been a reliable source of information in the past.”
Campaign Manager Median Annual Salary: $74,900
Campaign managers make sure their candidates’ campaigns run smoothly. They write press releases, find venues for speeches, conduct polls, prepare candidates for interviews and more. Many manage a staff if the campaign is large enough to need one.
The job title is used even for the very smallest campaign, such as city council — where pay is about $1,000 a month — all the way up to a presidential campaign, Hays says. Regardless of the scale of the campaign, “the skill set is still the same — copywriting, research, coordinating events, knowing the opposition, etc,” he says.
Personnel Security Specialist Median Annual Salary: $74,800
Here’s a job that lets you dig for dirt — not in the ground, but in people’s personal histories. These professionals typically work for government agencies performing background checks to determine if proposed new hires can gain certain security clearances.
“We do criminal history, drug use, financial history,” says TaMara Baker, personnel security specialist at the Department of Justice’s US Attorneys office in Washington, DC. “We talk to your neighbors, your friends. We’ll go back 10 years into your life. If you went to a psychiatrist, we make sure you are fit [for the job]. [We] check what meds you’re taking.”
Public Relations Manager Median Annual Salary: $73,500
This is another job found on small campaigns that Hays says can give a newcomer plenty of experience quickly. Hays advises anyone in this role to “always tell the truth, be accessible and be intellectually honest.”
He says the job especially suits those with a communications degree or experience on their school debate team. And when you’re ready to move on, you can take a corporate job that pays more with fewer hours, Hays says.
“What I love the most about my job is the opportunity to shape and influence public opinion,” says Jim Key, chief public affairs officer for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Policy Analyst Median Annual Salary: $72,400
Here’s a gig for the person who likes to research, think hard and affect change. Policy analysts collect data and review current government policies, then suggest changes or new approaches based on their analyses.
They’re rarely employed on the campaign trail. “Large campaigns will have advisors who are experts in the field, but actual policy analysts will be part of government,” Hays says.