While candidates for elected office are the public face of each campaign, there are many other individuals whose hard work and dedication are vital to the campaign’s success.
Campaign workers, such as the campaign manager, do the necessary work behind the scenes to improve the candidate’s chances of gaining votes. They oversee all aspects of the campaign, from start to finish, while adapting to their candidate’s needs. If you’re thinking of working as a campaign manager, it’s important to know the range of activities this political career entails.
What Does a Campaign Manager Do?*
The senior professional on any political campaign is the campaign manager. This means all other workers report to the campaign manager. Ultimately, the campaign manager is responsible for leading a successful campaign — one that wins the election.
On any given day, a campaign manager performs a wide range of duties, including the following:
- Develop the overall election strategy
- Oversee the publication of political advertisements
- Organize political rallies and fundraising efforts
- Recruit, organize and coordinate volunteers
- Speak with members of the media
Campaign managers also ensure their campaign follows the strict election laws that govern every political election. A strong sense of ethics is vital for the role.
What Skills Do Successful Campaign Managers Have?
Campaign managers need many skills to succeed, the most important being the ability to communicate clearly with both their campaign workers and their candidates. In addition, they must be able to speak on behalf of the candidate at political events as well as to the media.
Other important skills and characteristics include:
- A thick skin
- Leadership and the ability to motivate others
- Strategic thinking
- Excellent organizational and time management skills
- A collaborative mindset
Where Do Campaign Managers Work?
Campaign managers can be found working on local, state or national-level elections. When working on local campaigns, they spend much of their time at campaign headquarters, with local travel as needed. Campaign managers who work on state-wide elections typically travel quite a bit more than those working on local elections. National campaigns spend much of their time on the road, traveling with the political candidate and meeting with members of the media.
Campaign managers may work long hours during the election, including weekends and holidays. It’s also important to note that this is a temporary job that concludes once the election is over. Because of the lack of stability, this career is ideal for adaptable individuals who welcome change.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Campaign Manager?
Although there are no strict requirements for becoming a campaign manager, the applicant is generally expected to have a bachelor’s degree. To serve as a campaign manager in some high-profile campaigns, a master’s degree may be required. Though a variety of degrees may be helpful for this career, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications is a particularly appropriate choice.
A communications degree program, especially one that offers campaign classes, teaches the skills and techniques necessary to work well with other campaign team members. Students also learn to speak confidently and clearly to groups of people and members of the media. Many of these skills are transferable, so when the campaign is over, graduates are well prepared for the transition to a related line of work.
Before you can step into a manager role, you’ll need experience in political campaigns. One way to accrue this experience is to volunteer for local or state campaigns while in school. You’ll gain valuable insights into the inner workings of a political campaign and build important connections that can help you land your next position.
Some examples of entry-level positions with political campaigns include the following:
- IT volunteer: Every campaign needs a few people with strong computer skills who can troubleshoot technical problems.
- Website maintenance: Throughout a political campaign, the candidate’s website needs prompt updating with upcoming events, fresh pictures and other news items.
- Social networking specialist: Social media is integral to modern political campaigns, and candidates need dedicated workers who are savvy with it.
- Yard sign coordinator: This team member is responsible for checking on yard signs and replacing them when they are damaged or removed.
In addition, every political campaign needs volunteers to stuff envelopes, call constituents, enter data, march in parades and pass out papers at events. There is also a need for individuals to walk through neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking to residents about the candidate and the issues at stake.
After you have built up some experience in an entry-level position, you may be qualified for a mid-level position. Examples include volunteer coordinator, financial officer, event coordinator, political pollster and communications coordinator. Having this level of experience on your resume positions you to pursue a campaign manager role.
What Do Campaign Managers Do After an Election Ends?
Effective, hard-working campaign managers have a wealth of possibilities to choose from once the campaign ends. If their candidate is elected, they are often appointed to a position in the candidate’s administration. For instance, a campaign manager for a United States presidential election may be appointed as the White House press secretary.
Many campaign managers go on to manage other campaigns. For example, a campaign manager who originally managed a local election may later have the opportunity to manage a state or national election. There are also long-term employment opportunities within the political parties themselves as well as with dedicated campaign management firms. Some former campaign managers even go on to form their own consulting firms.
If you want to pursue a career in political campaigning, Grand Canyon University offers a selection of degrees to help you start your journey, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Communications or a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Political Campaigns. Click on Request Info above to learn more and begin your academic journey at GCU.
*Political Science Careers, Becoming a Campaign Manager – Political Consultant in April 2021
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.