How to Become a Politician in Texas

How do I start a political career?

How do I start a political career?

Are you interested in government and in making things better, either in your local community or on a state or national level? Regardless of the type of politician you aspire to become if you want to be a politician in the United States, you should follow these steps:

Step 1: What degree should I get to go into politics?

While it is possible to get into politics without having a degree, voters will be more inclined to vote for you if you hold a degree. Having even an undergraduate degree tells voters that you are knowledgeable about current events and political structure. The best place to start is by enrolling in a college or university with a Bachelor’s in Political Science degree program. This type of program will give you a good foundation in the basics of government and politics. When you graduate, you will be well prepared to take the next step in your journey to becoming a politician.

Step 2: Become Visible in Your Local Community

Before hitting the larger national stage, you must be seen in your local community so that voters will recognize your name. You should volunteer for local committees and boards, join the local chapter of your preferred political party, and generally help out in your local area. This way, voters will know who you are when it comes time to run for office. Volunteering for local government agencies or organizations is another great way to show that you care about your community, not merely about getting paid.

Step 3: Practice Public Speaking at Local Events

Now that your name is out there in your local community hone your public speaking skills. Speak at locally organized events, whether or not they are considered political gatherings. In addition to speaking in front of larger groups, start speaking to strangers you see around town. Being a good communicator is a large part of becoming a good politician.

Step 4: Research the Requirements

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for those who wish to run for elected office. Depending upon the office you wish to hold, go to your local City Hall, the state capital, or county offices and request a list of written requirements for becoming a politician there. You may also discover that you need to have a petition with a certain number of constituents’ signatures in order to get your name on the next election ballot. This is the time to get started in getting those names down so that you can take pride in seeing your name on the ballot when the next election rolls around.

Step 5: Start Small

Even if you dream big, start small. Don’t run for President, for example, without first holding a position in your state government. Likewise, you shouldn’t run for a state office until you’ve held a local position. Politics is all about working your way up the ladder. If you are a success in a lower office and prove to voters that you work hard and keep your campaign promises, it will be much easier to be elected to a higher office down the road.

Step 6: Develop Your Election Campaign

Regardless of the type of office you wish to hold, you still need to get the word out to your constituents about who you are and what you stand for. This requires a campaign, which needs money to function properly. Arrange to have brochures printed that contain your photo, a bit about your background, and your agenda and goals if elected to this office. Solicit donations from friends and family, to begin with, then knock on doors, hand out brochures, and ask for the support of voters on election day. Distributing brochures at public events is another way to get your name and information into the hands of the voters.

Step 7: Accept the Outcome

Sometimes even the most well-planned, well-funded, and organized election campaigns fail to get you elected. Whatever the outcome of the election, accept it gracefully, knowing that you can move on from here. Challenge yourself and prepare to run again in the next election, either for the same office or for another office that interests you. Above all, don’t give up. Politicians must have stamina, backbone, and tenaciousness in order to succeed in politics.

Political Science and Liberal Arts Education in Texas

Political science is considered to be a liberal arts discipline, which means that students studying for a political science degree in Texas will enjoy and benefit from a wide variety of subjects to give them a well-rounded education. Most undergraduate political science degrees at the bachelor’s level within this discipline are in political science, public administration, government, or a combination of these. Graduate degrees in political science may be in the above sub-disciplines plus education/teaching, legal studies, mediation or paralegal studies.

When one examines political science departments at Texas colleges and universities, it quickly becomes clear that more than just classroom learning is going on. Internships within the state legislature, on political campaigns, and even in Washington, D.C. are offered. Activist groups on environmental, gender, and race concerns are often available for all students to join and are usually favored by political science students, who represent the majority of the group’s membership. Debate and discourse clubs and boards are available for students to hone their critical and analytical skills. Foreign studies abroad may be available in an exchange or scholarship program to students with interest in international relations and foreign affairs.

Political Science Careers in Texas

Texas houses many corporations in what is considered to be “big industry” and/or “big business.” Such companies also employ political science graduates in a multitude of positions ranging from directorships to governmental/foreign affairs to public relations. Companies in Texas that potentially employ political science majors include the headquarters of Fortune 150/Global 500 petroleum refining company Tesoro Corporation in San Antonio; global computer giant Dell, Inc. in Austin; Bell Helicopter in Hurst; Southwest Airlines in Dallas; Chemonics International in West; and Waste Management Corporation in Houston.

Political science careers pay well in Texas. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Texas has the fourth-highest concentration of political scientists of any state (numbering 310 in May 2010), earning an average annual salary of $65,550. Other positions that pay higher than average salaries in Texas include public relations managers, who earn $104,430; logisticians, who earn $72,730; lawyers, who make $128,650 annually; postsecondary political science teachers, who earn $74,430; broadcast news analysts, who make $82,950 per year; market research analysts and marketing specialists, who earn $66,520 annually; and urban and regional planners, who make an average annual salary of $58,120. (All salaries quoted are from BLS data, circa May 2010).

How to Become a Politician in Texas

The Texas Secretary of State’s office provides Candidate Information for anyone who wishes to run for elected public office. Procedures for candidates for city, school district, state, district, county, and federal offices are listed here, as are qualifications for each office. As these procedures may vary from one election year to the next, it is recommended that any interested candidates check the Secretary of State’s website for the latest information pertaining to the office you seek. Generally, requirements for all Texas public elected offices include holding U.S. citizenship, being at least 18 years of age on the first day of the term of office, having the right to vote (not mentally incapacitated), not having been convicted of a felony, and holding residency in Texas for at least one year prior to an election and for at least six months in one’s district.

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s website, the following political parties are actively recognized in the state: Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, and the minor parties. A minor party may be established in the state under rules specified in the Texas Election Code.

What is the highest paying job in politics?

One of the career options available to political science degree holders is to become a politician. A politician may work at the local, state or federal government level in a variety of capacities. Usually one’s level of government dictates one’s salary.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that in May 2015, the average legislator earned $42,530. Politicians who hold executive positions, such as mayor, county commissioner, or city manager had wide variations in their salaries depending upon their jurisdiction. Local government executives averaged $86,670 per year. The average city manager’s salary was $84,290.

The National Conference of State Legislators (NLCS) annually publishes salary surveys for State Legislators. Salaries of State Legislators varies widely from state to state, with some legislators paid on a per-day basis during legislative sessions, to others receiving a stated, fixed annual salary. Because of these variations, determining an average state legislator’s salary is nearly impossible. The highest paid state legislators in 2016 worked in California and earned $100,113 annually.

Texas Politician Salaries

The salaries of some of Texas’ top state executives might shock you. Since their income comes from taxpayers, these executives are required by law to disclose their annual earnings. Examples of some of the highest-paid Texas executives include the Chief Medical Examiner of Bexar County, who earned $235,728 in 2019; the City Manager of San Antonio, who made $315,000 in 2009; the Police Chief of San Antonio, who earned $183,486 in 2019; and the Executive Director of Infrastructure Service in Bexar County, who made $185,904 in 2019. These officials earned more than the Texas governor’s 2010 salary.

TX Politician Salaries Table

Office Salary
Governor $150,000/year
Lieutenant Governor $7200/year
Secretary of State $125,880/year
Attorney General $150,000/year
Treasurer $150,000/year
State Legislator $7200/year + $168/day per diem

Governor Salary

Likewise, governors’ salaries vary greatly from one state to the next. The Council of State Governments compiled Governors’ salaries across the nation in 2015, and found that the governor of California made the highest yearly salary, at $190,823. Maine’s governor made the lowest salary that year, at $70,000 and the average salary for a governor was $134,793

The annual salaries of members of the U.S. House of Representatives are determined each election period by Congress. As of 2009, each representative earns $174,000 annually. The Speaker of the House earns $223,500 annually, while the majority and minority leaders of the House each earn $193,400 annually.

Senator Salary

Members of the Senate also have their salaries set by Congress each election period. As of 2009, each Senator earns $174,000. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and party leaders each earn $193,400 per year.
Presidents Salary

The President of the United States, who is considered the highest executive and elected official in the country, earns $400,000 annually according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The Vice President earns about half that amount, at $237,700.

Chief Justice Salary

Not all politicians are elected officials. Some politicians are appointed by the President. One such office is Supreme Court Justice. United States Courts state that as of 2016, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court earns $260,700 annually. An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court makes $249,300 per year.

Other hired staff are necessary to ensure that the government functions properly. These workers assist politicians in carrying out their responsibilities and include chiefs of staff (who average $82,150 when working in local government, per the BLS), legislative assistants (who earn an average salary of $58,540 when working in the federal government’s executive branch), press secretaries (who earn about $51,340 when working in local government), schedulers/executive administrative assistants (who earn $47,090 in local government and $43,230 in state government), and staff assistants (who earn an average of $41,880 in local government and $35,540 in state government).
Lobbyist Salary

Working as a lobbyist is another political science career that is closely related to that of politician. According to the Washington Post, starting salaries for lobbyists can be as high as $300,000 for those with good connections.

Political Consultant Salary

Political consultants, who are often classified as political scientists, are another important cog in the wheel that keeps the political realm functioning properly. The BLS says that in December 2015, median annual wages for political scientists were $99,730, with the possibility to earn up to $162,500.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May and December of 2015. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

What job can I get if I study political science?

Lobbyist Salary

Working as a lobbyist is another political science career that is closely related to that of politician. According to the Washington Post, starting salaries for lobbyists can be as high as $300,000 for those with good connections.

Political Consultant Salary

Political consultants, who are often classified as political scientists, are another important cog in the wheel that keeps the political realm functioning properly. The BLS says that in December 2015, median annual wages for political scientists were $99,730, with the possibility to earn up to $162,500.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May and December of 2015. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

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