Congressional aides are federal employees. There are 100 senators and 435 representatives who hire congressional aides. This number won't change without an amendment to the constitution or the addition of another state. For fair representation in the U.S. Congress, each state is allowed two senators; the number of representatives for each state is determined by the state's population. California has the most representatives (53). Many congressional aides work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Congressional Management Foundation reports that 44 percent of House staff and 35 percent of Senate staff find work in the home-state offices of their members of Congress.
Assistants are needed at every level of government. While in college, make personal contacts by volunteering on political campaigns. But be prepared to volunteer your services for some time in order to advance into positions of responsibility for candidates and elected officials. You should try to become an expert in a particular area—such as the environment, taxation, or disability issues—to increase your chances of landing a job. You can also gain valuable experience by working in the offices of your state capitol building. State legislators require aides to answer phones, send letters, and research new bills.
Become familiar with the Congressional Yellow Book available at your library or online. Getting a job as a congressional aide can be a difficult task—you may need to regularly submit resumes to placement offices of the House and the Senate. An internship can be a great way to get a foot in the door. The Congressional Management Foundation publishes information on internships.
Advancement in any of the congressional aide jobs is directly related to a congressional aide's ability, experience on Capitol Hill, and willingness to make personal sacrifices to complete work efficiently and on time. The highest office on congressional staffs is that of administrative assistant (chief of staff). It is possible for anyone on staff to rise up through the ranks to fill this position. Obviously, everyone cannot reach the top position, but advancement to higher staff positions is available to those who show they have the ability to take on greater responsibility. Legislative directors and state and district directors are probably the most likely candidates for the job of chief of staff. Legislative assistants, state office managers, and district office managers are in the best position to move into their respective directors' jobs. The top secretarial position is that of personal secretary, and any of the other secretaries can aspire to that position or that of scheduler. Any of the administrative staff, such as the receptionist or the mailroom manager, can work toward the office manager's position. Some Congressional staff members eventually decide to pursue elected office as a senator or representative, or in another position.
Tips for Entry
Participate in the U.S. Senate page program. Contact the offices of your senators for more information about being a page.
Submit your resume to the Senate Placement Office Resume Bank (https://www.senate.gov/visiting/employment.htm) or the U.S. House of Representatives Vacancy Announcement and Placement Service (https://www.house.gov/employment/positions-with-members-and-committees).
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. Additionally, the U.S. Senate (http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/visiting/h_multi_sections_and_teasers/employment.htm) and U.S. House of Representatives (http://www.house.gov) offer internships.
Land an entry-level job at a congressional office to learn about the field and make valuable contacts.