A career as a political campaign manager offers you the opportunity to have an impact on local, state, and federal government. Best of all, you can do so without the same weight of expectations as becoming an elected official.
We’ve created the complete guide on how to become a political campaign manager, with a rundown on all the skills you need to have, where you can complete a professional certificate or training program,, and how much you can expect to make.
What Are The Necessary Political Campaign Manager Skills?
A strong campaign manager has a mixture of both personal and professional skills that allow them to support their candidate through any situation. For a candidate to trust and hire you, you must be able to connect with them on a personal level. Over the next few months, the two of you will be spending a lot of time together in public and private settings. Your candidate needs someone to talk through both the victories and setbacks of the campaign.
However, your candidate isn’t the only person you’ll need to work well with. You must be comfortable with managing all the people associated with the campaign. Knowing how to establish expectations with a firm but kind attitude will go a long way in this role.
Professional skills are also an important part of the job. Since the campaign’s finances typically fall under the responsibility of the campaign manager, you should be comfortable with establishing and following a budget, as well as with fundraising.
A campaign manager must also be a level-headed problem solver with strong organizational skills. As a representative of your candidate, you’ll need to present yourself in a professional manner and stay calm under pressure.
Requirements to Become a Political Campaign Manager
Hiring a political campaign manager is a personal decision made by each candidate. Therefore, the requirements to be a political campaign manager aren’t always set in stone, but determined by the candidate and sometimes other stakeholders (e..g, DCCC, State Legislative Caucuses, et cetera). It all comes down to their preferences.
Most candidates will want a campaign manager with some sort of experience. On the local level, this might mean that you were previously a campaign volunteer. On the state or federal level, you’ll likely need to have worked on at least one campaign and have experience managing a budget.
You’ll also need to be articulate and eloquent. You’ll be speaking publicly about your candidate and directing an entire campaign team; strong communication skills are a must.
Believe it or not, you don’t need a college degree in political science to be a campaign manager. In fact, you don’t necessarily need any college degree. Most– if not all– of the skills you need will be developed through personal and professional experience.
If you feel you’re lacking in certain areas, or if you don’t have the experience of working on several previous campaigns, you might consider completing a political campaign management professional certificate(i.e., a training program) or starting as field organizer or finance assistant to start to build your resume.
Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate
If you’re interested in pursuing a professional certificate to expand your campaign knowledge and boost your chances of getting hired, there are a few places you can start.
- Blue Leadership Collaborative offers a state manager program. Through this program, a select number of applicants are chosen to complete 6 weeks of intensive training and then work as campaign managers for state legislators.
- The Best Practices Institute, a shared training department of the DNC and the ASDC, delivers leadership training for current State Party staff.
- The National Democratic Training Committee has a 10-week online and in-person training program.
- Emerge Massachusetts offers campaign manager training specifically for Democratic women.
How Much Does a Political Campaign Manager Make?
Your income as a political campaign manager depends on several factors.
The level of political race you’re working on is one of the biggest determiners. Below is a general guide based on industry payroll averages.
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In addition, other perks may or may not be included within your contract, including housing, mileage, and health insurance. Be sure to consider these when determining your overall salary.
Because political campaigns are so time-sensitive, the job may not always provide steady employment. One way to remedy this concern is to work with an organization such as Blue Leadership Collaborative, which helps campaign managers secure year-round employment.
How Do I Get Started?
The next steps in your journey toward becoming a political campaign manager depend on what experience you already have.
If you don’t have any previous experience, start researching how you can get involved in upcoming elections. You might consider working as a campaign volunteer, or you might pursue a staff position as a field organizer, field director, communication director, or finance manager.
If you have the experience but haven’t yet secured your dream job as a campaign manager, look into completing a political campaign management professional certificate or training.
Lessons From A First Time Political Campaign Manager
Your first political campaign is a bit of trial by fire. Here are some of the biggest lessons that first-time political campaign managers have shared.
“You need to believe your candidate is the right person for office.” —Cory J. Cerussi
“Learn to listen to your volunteers, your candidate’s friends and everyone in between. Listen to what they all have to say and learn to say thank you. The worst thing you can do is forget to acknowledge someone.” –-Kat Cammack
“You must create a budget before you start your campaign and do your best to stick to it throughout. You may need to adjust it slightly as the campaign progresses but never go too far from the original budgetary goals.” –-Kinga Edwards