Lobbying is a demanding career that requires in-depth knowledge of government as well as issue-specific knowledge. You'll need to be highly persuasive, have excellent communication skills and know how to negotiate. Lobbyists sometimes aid in drafting legislation, so good writing skills are at a premium. There's no single degree that can prepare you to be a lobbyist, and no educational trajectory that will guarantee a lobbyist career. Instead, you'll need to get to know people in the field and establish a strong reputation as someone who can negotiate with legislators. The right educational background can prepare you for the demands of lobbying and give you access to internships and networking opportunities that can help you meet your career goals.
If you want to lobby for a particular cause, you'll need to get to know people working on the issue and develop specialized knowledge. Professional organizations for chiropractors, doctors, lawyers and other professionals often hire lobbyists, and a major specific to one of these fields can help you get your foot in the door. Some lobbyists pursue pre-law degrees and others obtain professional degrees in the field for which they want to lobby. Political action committees are often interested in people who are already knowledgeable about the issues. For example, if you want to lobby for environmental organizations, a degree in environmental science could help. A double major in a politics-related field can help make you even more appealing.
Politics and Government
To be a competent lobbyist, you'll need to know about the inner workings of government at both the state and federal level. Understanding how bills get passed, how legislation is drafted and who has the power to present legislation can give you a leg up. Majors in political science, government and history can give you the background you need.
Lobbyists have to be masterful communicators who can convey important ideas in sound bites. Degrees that prepare you for public speaking and rapid-fire communication can help. Public relations, marketing, advertising, communication and speech can all help you achieve your goals. Writing skills are also extremely helpful. English, journalism and technical writing in conjunction with communications degrees can help you stand out.
If you're already halfway through your major, there's no need to switch educational trajectories. The American League of Lobbyists offers a lobbying certification program. This program teaches students about lobbying ethics, governmental structure, best practices and effective communication. It can also provide you with an opportunity to meet other people in the field and begin networking.
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