|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's may be preferred|
|Degree Field(s)||public relations, communication, journalism, business, political science, public affairs, or public administration|
|Experience||Varies based on position|
|Key Skills||Understanding of the legislative process; excellent written/oral communication skills; industry-specific knowledge; outgoing personality; multi-tasking, quick decision-makinh, and lobbying skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||7% increase*|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)||$119,390 (for public relations and fundraising managers)*|
Government relations directors are employed by local, state, and federal agencies. Often found within healthcare, nonprofit, and corporate public relations departments, they manage their employer's political relationship with state government and members of Congress. This position generally falls under the umbrella of public relations or corporate communications.
Government relations directors represent their employers at state legislatures and in Congress to support or oppose legislation, lobby for funding and raise awareness about their organization. Directors meet with elected officials and their staff to advocate their organization's position on important issues, develop policy initiatives, provide feedback about potential new laws and regulations, and discuss issues facing the industry.
Government relations directors communicate with other government representatives, public worker unions, the media, and the public. They develop reports and update their organization on policy developments. They may also serve as a spokesperson to the media or in public hearings. Government relations directors provide talking points and prepare research for top executives in preparation for meetings, interviews, and other activities. Other duties may include developing case studies, presenting information about the organization, and completing funding request paperwork.
A bachelor's degree is required to work as a government communications director. Some employers require at least a master's degree. Degree majors suitable for this occupation include public relations, communication, journalism, or business. Other acceptable majors include political science, public affairs, or public administration. Program coursework should include classes in public relations, communication principles, writing, government and governmental affairs, public speaking, and advertising.
Some positions require specific knowledge and education. For example, individuals working for an environmental sciences group may want to have an understanding of environmental issues and policy.
Experience & Other Requirements
Government relations directors must understand the legislative process, since they might testify at public hearings, lobby elected officials, and deal with the media. Most positions require a minimum number of years of experience, which can be gained through internships and employment.
Individuals seeking a government relations director job must possess excellent written and oral communication skills, a thorough understanding of their employer's industry, and strong lobbying skills. An outgoing personality, the ability to multi-task, and quick decision-making skills are also needed.
Career Outlook & Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies government relations directors with public relations and fundraising managers. These professionals were expected to see average job growth of 7% from 2014-2024. According to the BLS, the average annual wage for public relations and fundraising managers was $119,390 as of May 2015.
In summary, government relations directors represent their employers at state legislatures and in Congress to support or oppose legislation, lobby for funding, and raise awareness about their organization, among other duties. These professionals earn an average annual wage of nearly $120,000, and a bachelor's degree is the minimum to work in this field.