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Guide To Capitol Hill Careers

Aug 17, 2007
Welcome to Capitol Hill, home to some of the most exciting and powerful people in the world. And those who aspire to a career on The Hill have not done so without having extreme ambition and definitely not without being aware of this fact.

Capitol Hill offers some of the most exciting but highly demanding professional opportunities that you have ever dreamed of. The opportunities that Capitol Hill offers are summed up as openings in 535 congressional offices or 300 committees and subcommittees. Each of these hundreds of openings have a number of positions to offer depending on available vacancies and your qualifications.

Why Capitol Hill?

Everyone has her or his reasons for choosing to work on Capitol Hill. The general answers across the board are: 1) that Capitol Hill provides the opportunity to serve the country; 2)Capitol Hill has a very fast paced lifestyle or 3) A career on Capitol Hill will allow one to use a wide range of one's skills.

While all these are valid, one Senate staffer said "One of the most exciting aspects of working on the Hill is the opportunity to participate in the workings of our democracy. The prestige of the place is nice, but for me the real satisfaction comes from knowing that the work we do makes a lot of difference in the lives of real people."

Different Positions On The Hill

The fact is that there is no typical path for your career on Capitol Hill. With just ten Senators having had served for over 25 years, the spate of elections has let even fewer members of staff to spend a full career working for any one member of the Congress. This leads to high turnover rates and promotions for existing staff and new opportunities for job seekers.

1. Staff Assistant Or Receptionist: This first entry-level job for undergraduates and fresh graduates provides a salary of up to $23,849 for a House appointment and $22,505 for the Senate. Basic responsibilities are receiving guests, routing telephone calls and mail to respective staffers.

2. Legislative Correspondent: This is supposedly the next logical step for staff assistants. Typical duties include preparing draft responses to member's letters, dealing with constituent requests and inquiries regarding legislation and national policies. There will be considerable administrative work in this position, hence the freedom from the front desk. Salaries range from $25,500 to $26,750.

3. Administrative Assistant Or Chief Of Staff: This is the highest-ranking position you can reach as staff to a Member of Congress. If you thought number of years spent on staff alone counts for getting to this position, think again. It is the trust that you foster with the Member, strong political instincts, overall administrative abilities that really see you rise to this position. Members can hire from within for this position or from a congressional delegation from their home state. They do not have an obligation to hire someone from their staff. Salaries range from close to $100,000 to $115,000.

Opportunities on committees and subcommittees are no less abundant. Nevertheless, the work responsibilities differ from that of congressional duties. These committees are the Authorizing and Appropriating committees.
Because of their competitive nature, Capitol Hill jobs are hardly advertised. Party affiliations, direct references or belonging to the Member's home state all count when the time for recruiting comes. Networking is the key to getting in. Hint: post-election is the best time to try to get in the House
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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