Many political consultants work in Washington, D.C., but there are others who work in state capitals and major cities all across the country. Political consultants are generally self-employed, or work for consulting firms that specialize in media relations. They contract with politicians, corporations, nonprofit groups, and trade and professional associations. They participate in the campaigns of mayors, governors, and Congress members as well as in the political campaigns of other countries.
Political consulting jobs are not often advertised, and there is no predetermined path to success. It is recommended that you make connections with people in both politics and the media. Volunteer for political campaigns, and also advocate for public policy issues of interest to you. You can make good connections, and gain valuable experience, by working or interning in the offices of your state capital. You might also try for an internship with one of your state's members of Congress; contact their offices in Washington, D.C., for internship applications. If you're more interested in the writing and producing aspects of the career, work for local newspapers or the broadcast news media; or work as a producer for a television production crew or for an ad agency that specializes in political campaigns. A political consulting firm may hire assistants for writing and for commercial production. Whereas some people pursue the career directly by working in the press offices of political candidates, others find their way into political consulting after having worked as lawyers, lobbyists, or journalists.
Political consultants, after winning many elections and establishing credentials, will begin to take on more prominent clients and major campaigns. Network TV, cable, and radio news departments also hire successful political consultants to serve as political analysts on the air. Some consultants also write columns for newspapers and syndicates and publish books about their insights into politics.
Tips for Entry
In high school, work for your school newspaper. Write articles about your school's government and committees.
Become involved in local elections by campaigning for candidates. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding volunteer and internship opportunities on campaigns.
Read about politics in magazines, newspapers, and online news sources.