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When you were young, you may have said that you wanted to one day be the President or a congressman. In fact, it seems as though such aspirations are right there with being a firefighter or police officer for most young children. I had these aspirations myself once (and still sometimes do).
But as we grow older, we see the reality of politics. It is a career filled with risks, publicity, and being hated by half of the population. Instead of glamorous speeches and massive houses, you are just as likely to end up unemployed. Politics is a complicated career path, and even those who are successful see a variety of major setbacks in their careers.
So is there any money to be made in being a career politician? Maybe, if you are successful. Let’s take a look at some of the financial considerations of a political career.
When we look at politicians, many of them do make a substantial income. President Obama makes $400,000 per year, which is obviously a massive salary. And that doesn’t even count all of the benefits he gets, like living in the White House and having constant security. The next step down the ladder would be Congress. Members of the House of Representatives make $174,000 per year, plus benefits. This is similar to the levels seen in Canada, where members of Parliament make a $157,731 salary and the Prime Minister makes $315,462.
And while those are fantastic salaries, remember that those are the upper levels of national governments. Being President of the United States is like being the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, all of whom make many times what the President does. If you are at the lower levels of political ladder, you may not make as much. Salaries for local and state political positions range from barely above the poverty line up till about $100,000.
Another thing to consider about a political career is that the pay may be unstable. One year you may hold a position that pays well, but the next you could be voted out and be forced to find a new job. This instability is part of the nature of a career that relies on being elected for terms in office. Depending on what office you are seeking, this may be a very short or very long term. In the US, Senators get six year terms while members of the House only get two, for instance.
Of course, a huge consideration to take into account is the cost of running political campaigns. You will be able to get donations to help fund your campaigns, but that may not be enough. Especially for lower level local positions, campaigns are oftentimes paid out of pocket by those who are running for the position. While you won’t have to spend the millions of dollars that presidential candidates do if you are running for mayor of a small town, you can still expect a big chunk of change will need to be spent in order to get elected. Remember that advertising in any form is always expensive, and it may be needed to win your election.
So is there money to be made in politics? Sure, but it can be hard to reach high paying levels, the pay is unstable, and most of your money will go right back into campaigning. There is a reason that most politicians have already had successful careers in other places.
But if you are determined, there is no reason to not become a politician. In fact, it can be a great career choice if you are determined.
Author Bio: James Petzke is the writer behind This Is Common Cents. He writes mostly about building wealth through frugality and living meaningfully, and he hopes to one day hold national political office.