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What You Need for a Successful Career in Politics

Pursuing a career in politics can be both challenging and exciting. Unlike in many careers, there is no exact path to becoming a politician. Whether at the local, state or national level, elected officials come from all walks of life and educational backgrounds. Although each politician's education and career path may be unique, there are also many commonalities in how most politicians got to where they are.

If you are interested in becoming a politician, educating yourself in these shared aspects of success in the career is a must. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin's fully online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science degree program is designed to provide precisely this sort of education. From the fundamental study of law, politics and current issues to the more concrete aspects of securing funding, building a political campaign, networking and communicating, there is certainly much to learn. Developing experience based on the knowledge and skills gained through such education can be an essential part of building a successful career in politics.

What Areas of Study Will Help Me Be Successful in Politics?

The job of any politician is complex and requires extensive knowledge in many areas, in addition to advanced networking and communication skills. The study of political science reflects this complexity in its breadth. To succeed as a politician, you will need an in-depth understanding of American government and political and judicial systems across the spectrum of national, state and local levels. How do these institutions function and accomplish what they set out to do? What is your role in this system? Mayor, senator, President or something in between? How do you best fulfill the duties of that role?

The study of international relations is also important if you aspire to ascend to the highest ranks of elected office. In addition, the study of research methods used in political science and ways of analyzing data is essential for gathering information and running a good political campaign.

And, perhaps above all, your success in politics will depend on how well you can communicate with people, from the people you represent to your colleagues "across the aisle." Accordingly, an entire minor option of UTPB's online BA in Political Science is devoted to communication. Course topics range from interpersonal communication, public messages, and nonverbal communication to media and society. For the politician, effective communication is far more than simply articulating a thought.

Where Should I Start?

Along with educating yourself, the best way to start your political career is simply to get involved. Volunteering for a political campaign is a great way to learn how campaigns work. Joining a local party committee or political action network aligned with your values can help you deepen your understanding of issues important to people you may eventually come to represent. Truly, any way you can get involved with local politics and public service can help propel your career. Through developing your knowledge of the issues that matter most to people as well as building relationships within the community and larger political groups, you can lay the groundwork to build your political career on.

How About Running and Funding a Campaign?

This is where all of your education and involvement with the community and local political groups comes into play. Politicians at the highest levels of government were once local politicians who worked their way up. This is likely where you will start, assuming that you have already developed your knowledge of and relationships within your local community.

Success in a political campaign largely relies on these relationships, which will become your network of supporters and, hopefully, donors to your campaign. After all, running for elected office is not cheap, even at the local level, and it requires fundraising. Depending on the level of office you are running for, you will also need to assemble a good team of people to help with your campaign. The successful politician relies on trusted advisers and excels in delegating tasks to people who are best suited to accomplishing those tasks.

And, of course, even the best laid plans do not always lead to immediate success. Most political careers involve some degree of failure. The most successful politicians are the ones who learn from their setbacks and take each one as a step toward future success.

Learn more about UTPB's online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program.


ThoughtCo.: How to Get Into Politics

The Borgen Project: How to Become a Politician: 4 Crucial Steps to Success

HuffPost: As a Young Person Who Wants to Get Into Politics, What Should I Know?

Monster: How to Kick-Start Your Career As a Politician

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