Most political speechwriters work for politicians or political consulting groups. Many jobs are in Washington, D.C., but there are opportunities available across the nation at the state and local government levels. One thing to keep in mind: It can be very difficult to write speeches supporting issues that go against you own views or morals. If you find employment with a politician who is closely aligned with your own opinions on issues that are important to you, your job will be easier and have the potential to be very rewarding.
One of the most important and effective ways of getting started as a political speechwriter is to make connections with people involved in politics. Volunteer for political campaigns and be an advocate of public policy issues that interest 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.
Some people pursue a career as a political speechwriter directly by working in the press offices of political candidates, starting out as assistants to speechwriters or press secretaries, advancing as they are able to demonstrate their ability and as opportunities arise. Others make the jump to speechwriting after having worked in the political arena as lawyers, lobbyists, or journalists.
Political speechwriters have many advancement options. Entry-level speechwriters may progress from doing mostly research, to writing some low-profile speeches, to writing more important speeches. They may also start by working with politicians at the local level and move on to work with more prestigious politicians at the state or national levels. Or they may find themselves promoted to speechwriting positions that have more supervisory and organizational responsibilities, such as managing a team of speechwriters.
Some political speechwriters advance to non-speechwriting positions within public administration; for example, they may become politicians or political consultants. They may also make the transition to a career in media, finding employment as a writer, journalist, or a career in public relations.
Tips for Entry
Read or listen to the speeches of famous speechwriters such as Jon Favreau, who wrote for President Barack Obama, and Marc Thiessen, who wrote for George W. Bush.
Read The Political Speechwriter's Companion: A Guide for Writers and Speakers by Robert Lehrman.
Develop a sense of humor; all successful speechwriters learn not to take things too seriously.
Join an association of communicators like the National Association of Government Communicators and the International Association of Business Communicators; volunteer to meet everyone. If you are freelancing, network and hand out your business card. Writing speeches in any capacity will improve your chances of being a political speechwriter.