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As President Obama and Governor Romney campaign across the country for your vote (you have registered, right?), all eyes are focused on who will win the top job.
But it takes more than just one person to run a successful political campaign. From the head campaign manager to the newest unpaid intern, a legion of people help win the election wars. And if you thrive on outside-the-box, high-pressure work (or if you’re a political wonk), you just might want to join up.
Here are nine of the most prominent career tracks to give you a feel for the who, what and how of the campaign world. The next election seasons starts on November 7th, so get ready!
As the head honcho of a campaign, you coordinate all the majors players. Your goal is to ensure that every member of the campaign staff is efficiently—and effectively—working toward election day success.
Average Salary: $84,000
Political campaigns couldn’t work without a team of researchers. Your role is two-fold. First, you track down evidence, facts and data to support your candidate’s statements. Then, you try to find and expose the skeletons in your competition’s closet (this is known as opposition research).
Average Salary: $72,000
As a vital member of the field department—the “boots-on-the-ground” section of the organization—your full-time job is to recruit and wrangle volunteers. Your grassroots team helps get out the vote (some campaigns even hire special GOTV organizers in the last weeks before an election), keeps campaign functions running smoothly and supports the election-day events.
Average Salary: $31,000
Successful fundraising directors bring in big money. Working with the finance chairperson, you nurture relationships with major donors, oversee fundraising events and keep track of who’s giving and how much.
Average Salary: $92,000
If public speaking is your thing, consider the role of press secretary. As the leader for press and publicity relations, you set up interviews with your candidate, write press releases and hold press conferences. You also keep your ear to the ground (or, in this case, to newspapers, TV, radio and Web forums) to track who’s saying what about which candidates.
Average Salary: $63,000
When it comes to technology, you’re the campaign’s go-to person. You do everything from running your candidate’s website to organizing information databases (like the voter file, which tracks voter information for specific geographic areas). In smaller campaigns, you even head up social media efforts.
Average Salary: $165,000
Schedulers keep campaigns ticking along. Time is in short supply, so it’s your responsibility to make sure your candidate is using it in the most efficient way possible. Between scheduling events, activities and strategic planning, you’ve got lots of logistics to handle.
Average Salary: $31,000
As a campaign accountant or treasurer, you make sure all the money is in the correct (and legal!) spots. Your many tasks include preparing finance compliance reports and providing basic services like tracking cash flow, fundraising totals and budget information.
Average Salary: $73,000
Political consultants are the brains behind the message of a winning campaign. Working at the heart of a campaign’s headquarters, you’re like an advertising executive, focused on selling your candidate’s story. Beyond your traditional media and publicity work, you may also advise your candidate on everything from their platforms and positions to their mannerisms and appearance.
Average Salary: $102,000
Salary and job outlook data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Information Network.
Would you dedicate your career to getting your candidate elected?