Regional and Local Officials


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Courses in government, civics, and history will give you an understanding of the structure of government. English courses are important because you will need good writing skills to communicate with constituents and other government officials. Math and accounting will help you develop analytical skills for examining statistics and demographics. Journalism classes will develop research and interview skills for identifying problems and developing programs. 

Postsecondary Training

To serve on a local government, your experience and understanding of the city or county are generally more important than your educational background. Some mayors and council members are elected to their positions because they've lived in the region for a long time and have had experience with local industry and other concerns. For example, someone with years of farming experience may be the best candidate to serve a small agricultural community. Voters in local elections may be more impressed by a candidate's previous occupations and roles in the community than they are by a candidate's postsecondary degrees.

That said, most regional and local officials still hold an undergraduate degree, and many hold a graduate degree. Popular areas of study include public administration, law, economics, political science, history, and English. Regardless of your major as an undergraduate, you are likely to be required to take classes in English literature, statistics, foreign language, western civilization, and economics.


The National League of Cities offers the Certificate of Achievement in Leadership Program to help participants develop key skills necessary for excellence in leadership. Members earn educational credits toward the certificate by attending leadership seminars at the organization's annual conferences and other events. 

Other Education or Training

The International City/County Management Association provides web conferences and workshops and other continuing education opportunities. Topics include ethics, management skills, staff development, leadership, and financial management. The National League of Cities offers workshops, conference seminars, webinars, and a Leadership Fellowship Program. The National Association of Counties provides conference seminars and workshops, web-based education, and a County Leadership Institute. Topics include social media, disaster planning, and leadership. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The International City/County Management Association offers a voluntary credentialing program for government managers who meet education and experience requirements. Contact the association for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Many regional and local officials have prior experience as community activists or working on political campaigns, in law enforcement, or in business. 

To be successful in this field, you must deeply understand the city and region you serve. You need to be knowledgeable about the local industry, private businesses, and social problems. You should also have lived for some time in the region in which you hope to hold office.

You also need good people skills to be capable of listening to the concerns of constituents and other officials and exchanging ideas with them. Other useful qualities are problem-solving and negotiation skills and creativity to develop innovative programs.