Politics is both an art and science that focuses on people. Politicians and politics are at play in nearly every career and life scenario to some extent. Our daily lives are dictated by rules and laws designed to benefit individuals and develop and maintain flourishing communities and countries.
What type of person would this job suit?
- You need to be passionate and enthusiastic about people and politics
- Great at networking and building strong relationships with others
- Be approachable and a good listener
- Have a thorough understanding of local and national issues, and be up to date with current affairs
- Possess excellent analytical thinking and communication (verbal and written) skills
- Remain calm, confident and professional in all situations – especially when you’re engaged in public speaking and presentations
- Adept at crisis management and problem solving
Industries where politics is important:
- Law and Justice
- Defence and Intelligence
- Journalism and Media
There are lots of ways that you can have a meaningful job within politics. You don’t have to be aiming to become Prime Minister – although ambition and the drive to succeed could be advantageous in this competitive industry.
You can get in to politics through a lot of different pathways; formal or tertiary qualifications are not necessarily required. Showing your commitment and gaining valuable experience through volunteering, campaigning and involvement with a political party is one of the best pathways there is.
You could get other useful experience from:
- being involved in student politics
- get involved in a debating team or student newspaper
- find work experience with local MPs, the mayoral office or local council
Choosing to study a degree in politics could make you a more competitive candidate for some professional roles.
A full-time, 5 year, Bachelor of Social Science with the degree of Bachelor of Laws with a Major in Political Economy and Social Policy at Macquarie could give you all the qualifications you’d need to apply for a huge range of careers in the political arena.
Alternatively, you can start out at TAFE and gain a Cert III or IV, or find a traineeship, before getting some experience and deciding if you want, or need, to go to uni later on.
A Certificate III in Business with Social Media from Training Connections Australia is an example of a course that could open doors into a political career too.
Social Media Advisor
You’d be developing, implementing and maintaining social media communications. Demonstrating political acumen by providing relevant communications advice and recommendations.
You could get some short courses under your belt and volunteer your time to work with local politicians and organisations as a social media advisor. Gaining valuable work experience, networking and obtaining a proven track record could offer up opportunities for next level positions.
As a volunteer you might not get paid initially, but if the position is made official and you’re offered a job, a salaried position could be on offer.
Relevant experience or university degree
A political staffer or aide works in a political office supporting a candidate or elected official by advising, researching, scheduling, fundraising, or writing for them, among other responsibilities.
There’s no formal qualification or training to be a staffer, you’ll learn on the job. Generally some previous political experience is desirable. Although it’s not unusual for junior members to be recruited straight from university.
As a junior you could expect to earn over $40,000 per year, going up to $77,000 per year (or more) with experience.
You’d be reporting on controversies, campaigns and debates, providing analysis of political events, as well as presenting on potential outcomes, incentives and trends. You could work in one or more outlets including print, online, TV, or radio.
Relevant experience is crucial (it could be at the office of a local or national newspaper), and building up professional network of contacts even more so. A Professional Communication Certificate, Certificate III in Screen and Media, a diploma, bachelor degree or postgraduate degree in journalism could all kick off your career. Lots of news outlets also offer 12 month cadetships for graduates.
You could expect to earn $80,000 per year as a qualified and experienced journalist.
Member of Parliament (MP)
An MP is expected to work for the benefit of Australia, their local constituents, and for their party. You could be developing policies, legislations and by-laws, be a spokesperson, investigator and more.
With the right skills, work experience and contacts, you could become a Member of Parliament without formal qualifications, though they often have university qualifications, which could help you become an MP more quickly.
Federal Senators and members base salary is $207,000 per year. State Government salaries vary but you could expect to earn a base salary of $150,00 per year (*2018 figures).
To become an MP, you’ll have to be elected by your party or the public.
Growth in this industry is moderate and expected to remain so.