Should I Become a Legislative Aide?
Legislative aides typically work in offices of elected officials at the state and/or federal levels. Job duties range from answering phones and maintaining schedules to conducting legal research and drafting legislation. These duties are assigned based on the candidate's experience, skills, and education. Having an advanced degree will qualify a person for more-senior positions.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree minimum; bachelor's degree or higher recommended|
|Degree Field||Political science, public policy, communications, law; employers also welcome degrees subjects that are relevant to legislative issues such as environmental science, education, or computer science|
|Experience||Internships and volunteering for political campaigns are recommended but not required|
|Key Skills||Research, writing, time management; understanding legislation and the legislative process|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014)
Steps to Become A Legislative Aide
Step 1: Obtain an Undergraduate Degree
Most legal assistants and paralegals have associate degrees in paralegal studies, but some employers of legislative aides might require a bachelor's degree in political science, public administration, public policy, business, or communications. Degree programs should include courses in communications, political science, and social sciences. Some local legislative aide positions might accept administrative experience as a substitute for education.
Step 2: Pursue Internship and Volunteer Opportunities
An unpaid internship is not a requirement for a position as a legislative aide, but it might provide contacts and experience in a legislative office. Legislators might offer unpaid internships for students with undergraduate degrees and those currently enrolled in graduate degree programs.
Volunteering for political campaigns is another avenue for aspiring legislative aides to learn the details of political campaigning and to network with legislators. Political organizations usually offer volunteer opportunities as well. You could also check with the National Conference of State Legislators, which maintains a list of internship and fellowship opportunities.
Step 3: Obtain Experience in Administrative Support
In addition to education, some employers look for legislative aides with experience in administrative support. Experience can include administrative work for elected officials, military officers, or high-level executives. Required administrative skills might include report writing, schedule management, and legal research.
Step 4: Apply for Positions
The Senate Employment Bulletin provides listings of positions with legislative offices. State and county websites, such as your state's House of Representatives, may also advertise legislative aide positions.
Step 5: Get a Job
As of 2016, the median salary for all legislative aids in the country was $38,887 according to PayScale.com. However, salaries actually vary widely depending on the level of government for which one works, with salaries at the federal level typically being the highest.
Step 6: Pursue a Graduate Degree to Advance in Your Career
Positions that focus on a specific area of legislation might require a graduate degree in public policy or political science. Some legislative aides write position papers, make amendments to bills, and draft legislation; these types of positions might require advanced writing skills and a graduate degree.
Aspiring legislative aides should have at least an associate though a bachelor's degree or higher in a relevant field such as political science or public policy is typically preferred along with experience such as through volunteering on a political campaign. The median salary for legislative aids in 2016 was $38,887.