How Do I Become a Congressman?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Aligning with a political party is helpful to win election to U.S. Congress.
Aligning with a political party is helpful to win election to U.S. Congress.

If you are interested in a career in politics and have set a long-term goal to become a congressman, you are already on the right track toward pursuing your goals. Most people who try to become congressmen start by running for a political office on the state or local level, thereby allowing them to gain the experience necessary to run for higher offices. This also allows you to establish contacts in the community and perhaps even develop support in a local political party. Aligning yourself with a political party will make the process of running for office somewhat easier.

A congressman will need to participate in debates, so good public speaking skills are a must.
A congressman will need to participate in debates, so good public speaking skills are a must.

While no specific level of education is necessary to be elected to most offices, it is a good idea to earn at least a high school education, if not a college degree, if you want to become a congressman. You can study such topics as political science, rhetoric, economics, or any other subject area that may be relevant to state, local, or national politics. Establishing yourself within your community by taking part in community events and forums is also a great way to start building support for a future date when you decide to try to become a congressman.

Practice in debating and public speaking can help prepare someone for working in Congress.
Practice in debating and public speaking can help prepare someone for working in Congress.

Define yourself politically by determining what issues are important and relevant to you and where you stand on those issues. Be active in various causes that support your views, and begin to make attempts at establishing yourself within the political sphere to represent your causes. If you have developed a significant following in your area, it may be time to consider running a campaign to become a congressman. You will need to do some research into local laws and regulations that apply to such campaigns, and fill out all appropriate paperwork necessary to mount your campaign. Try to hire a campaign staff that will help you raise money and spread the word about your views and positions.

Congressional candidates might address public concerns during campaign events.
Congressional candidates might address public concerns during campaign events.

You will need to participate in debates, and you will likely need to give speeches as well, so it is a wise decision to work on your public speaking skills before you mount a campaign to become a congressman. You may want to consider taking public speaking courses at a college or university to prepare yourself. As a candidate, you will need to run against an opponent who most likely disagrees with your positions, so you will need to be prepared to defend your positions and convince the public why you are the best choice for the job.

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Discussion Comments

Certlerant

The higher you move up the political ladder, the more important it is to have at least a bachelors degree, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, people tend to trust the word of candidates and government officials they consider to be well-educated and well-spoken, especially on the state level and above.

Education level may not be as important on the local level, because the politicians' constituents are people in his or her area that he or she may have known for years. Trust is established in a different way on the local level.

In addition, someone striving to be a U.S. Congressman most likely has aspirations to attain the highest political position he or she can, meaning the person would welcome a move from Congressman, to Senator and someday even to President.

Officials in these higher ranking offices often have law degrees or advanced business degrees. Although there is no educational requirement, most people expect their Congressmen, Senators and President to be very well educated at top schools.

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    • Aligning with a political party is helpful to win election to U.S. Congress.
      By: vlad_g
      Aligning with a political party is helpful to win election to U.S. Congress.
    • A congressman will need to participate in debates, so good public speaking skills are a must.
      By: Steve Cukrov
      A congressman will need to participate in debates, so good public speaking skills are a must.
    • Practice in debating and public speaking can help prepare someone for working in Congress.
      By: lmel900
      Practice in debating and public speaking can help prepare someone for working in Congress.
    • Congressional candidates might address public concerns during campaign events.
      By: kasto
      Congressional candidates might address public concerns during campaign events.