Congressional Aides


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A thorough understanding of the government and how it works is important to anyone working for a member of Congress. You should take courses in U.S. government, political science, civics, social studies, and history, and get involved in school government and school committees. Attend formal meetings of various school clubs to learn about parliamentary procedure. Writing press releases and letters, and researching current issues are important aspects of congressional work. Taking journalism, English, and speech classes and reporting for your school newspaper will develop these communication skills. Taking a foreign language such as Spanish would also be good idea since many members of Congress represent people who do not speak English as their first language. 

Postsecondary Training

A well-rounded college education is very important for this career. Most congressional aides have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many congressional aides, such as chiefs of staff and legislative directors, have graduate degrees or law degrees. Consider undergraduate programs in history, political science, journalism, or economics. Political science programs offer courses in government, political theory, international relations, sociology, and public speaking. Look for internship opportunities in local, state, and federal government, and in political campaigns. Journalism programs offer courses in news reporting, communications law, and editing. Contact the offices of your state's members of Congress about applying for internships.

Other Education or Training

The Congressional Management Foundation provides a variety of continuing education opportunities to Congressional staff members. Visit http://www.congressfoundation.org/congressional-operations/staff-training for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for congressional aides.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Entry-level positions such as a constituent services representative or legislative assistant require no prior experience. Top positions such as chief of staff and speechwriter require several years of experience working in a Congressional office.

Congressional aides need good problem-solving skills. They must have leadership abilities as well as the ability to follow instructions. Communication skills are very important, including writing, speaking, and listening. Aides must have a good temperament to deal with the stress of preparing a congressperson for voting sessions, and patience when dealing with constituents who have serious concerns about political issues. As with any job in politics, diplomacy is important in helping a Congress member effectively serve a large constituency with widely varying views.