Qualifications Needed to Become a U.S. Senator

Learn about the qualifications needed to become a United States senator. Get a quick view of the constitutional requirements as well as details about salaries, job duties and state requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

The basic qualifications needed to become a politician, including a U.S. senator, are set forth by the U.S. constitution. They refer to a Senate candidate's age, citizenship status and the state in which the aspiring senator lives. There are no specific requirements regarding education or training, but many senators have experience in the law or business, and they often hold at least a bachelor's degree. Solid leadership, communication and organizational skills are vital for anyone who wishes to be elected senator.

Education RequirementsNo specific requirements, though a bachelor's degree is common
Other RequirementsMust have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, be at least age 30, be a legal resident of the state from which elected; numerous other requirements apply as well
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 6% for all legislators*
Salary (2014)$174,000; majority and minority leaders, along with the president pro tempore, receive $193,400**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **www.senate.gov.

Qualifications for Becoming a U.S. Senator

The qualifications to become a U.S. senator are stated in the U.S. constitution; article one, section three and clause three. The constitution states that to become a senator an applicant must meet specific age, citizenship and state status.

The U.S. Senate was formed in 1787 by a convention informally referred to as the framers of the constitution. These requirements have been in effect since that time. There are no constitutional amendments that apply to the requirements for becoming a U.S. senator.


The minimum age requirement to serve as a U.S. senator is 30 years of age. James Madison, one of the framers of the Constitution, justified the higher age requirement in the Senate, saying serving as a senator required greater life experience and stability of character, according to the United States Senate (www.senate.gov)


An applicant into the U.S. senate must be a U.S. citizen for nine years prior to applying for the senate. The 9-year rule helps ensure that foreign-born senators show more loyalty to the United States than to their countries of birth. This helps promote fairness when senators have to deal with treaties and make other foreign policy decisions.


A U.S. senator is required to be an inhabitant of the state in which he or she is elected. The constitution does not specify how long a senate candidate must reside in the state in order to run.

Additional State Requirements

In addition to the constitutional requirements, U.S. senators must also meet state registration requirements, be up-to-date on taxes and pass a criminal background check. Registration requirements may vary by state, but typically include being registered with a political party and being eligible to vote.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also noted that candidates might benefit from legal, business or teaching experience. They must also have exceptional organizational, leadership and communication skills to represent their state effectively.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The BLS indicated that legislators - who include U.S. senators - were expected to see 6% growth in job openings from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than average. However, because the constitution limits the Senate to two senators per state, there won't be any additional senators unless a new state enters the union. According to www.senate.gov, most senators made $174,000 in 2014, while the president pro tempore, and the minority and majority leaders, made $193,400.

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