How To Become a Campaign Manager

Updated June 24, 2022

Behind every great election is a campaign manager. Campaign managers are the directors in charge of all campaign-related operations and activities. If you're interested in helping candidates win elections, understanding the requirements for becoming a campaign manager can help you start your journey. In this article, we discuss what a campaign manager is, outline the job duties of a campaign manager and explain how to become a campaign manager.

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What is a campaign manager?

A campaign manager, or campaign director, is a professional who coordinates a political campaign's operations. They are in charge of raising money, reaching voters, advertising and maintaining a media presence to ensure their candidate has a successful election. Campaign managers educate the public on their candidate's views to help voters make informed decisions during election time. A campaign manager typically works with local, city, state or national elections for an individual or private sector. They can also work for specific political parties and campaign management firms.

Related: 12 Jobs in Politics

What does a campaign manager do?

Campaign managers handle a variety of duties related to running a successful campaign for a candidate. Their responsibilities involve public relations, fundraising, marketing and political consultation.

A campaign manager's typical job duties include:

  • Organizing fundraising efforts

  • Calling and contacting supporters

  • Creating a campaign strategy

  • Recruiting and training donors and volunteers for the campaign

  • Assisting in writing candidate speeches

  • Creating and maintaining a campaign budget

  • Managing the political campaign staff

  • Composing and analyzing polls to gather public opinion

How to become a campaign manager

Here are the steps you can take to become a political campaign manager:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Campaign managers typically earn a bachelor's degree in political science or a related field, such as history, English, communications, public relations or business administration. A degree in political science teaches students about policy, diplomacy, law and legislation as well as campaign strategies and politics in the media. While completing your undergraduate degree, consider leading a student organization to improve your delegating, budgeting and communication skills.

Related: 17 Best Jobs for Political Science Majors

2. Gain experience

After graduation, practice campaign skills, such as contacting voters and performing office duties, by volunteering with local campaigns or taking part in an internship. Acquiring some relevant experience can help you find a campaign manager job and network with others in the political field.

3. Obtain an entry-level job

When starting out, look for entry-level positions, such as becoming a volunteer coordinator or fundraiser. You may eventually move up to a position as a campaign manager after showing your strong work ethic and capabilities. Entry-level positions provide you with a chance to gain some experience in the field before becoming a campaign manager.

4. Join a professional organization

Consider becoming a member of a political organization, such as the American Association of Political Consultants (AACP). Joining a professional group allows you to network with others and continue your education. Professional organizations often hold events and provide learning opportunities for their members.

Read more: What Is a Professional Organization?

5. Continue with higher education

Although a graduate degree isn't required for most campaign managers, consider pursuing a master's degree in political science, political management or elections and campaign management. These programs can help you stand out from other candidates and give you additional knowledge and skills to prepare you for your management role.

Skills for a campaign manager

In order to run successful campaigns, campaign managers need the following skills:

  • Organization: Being organized helps campaign managers keep track of important events and other information related to the campaign.

  • Effective communication: Campaign managers must be excellent communicators since they interact with supporters and potential voters and often speak on behalf of their candidates.

  • Marketing: To promote events and advertise their candidates, campaign managers need strong marketing skills.

  • Negotiation: Campaign managers need to be able to negotiate and discuss political issues with others when educating potential voters about their candidate's platform.

  • Attention to detail: Being detail-oriented helps campaign managers plan the logistics for marketing items and events.

  • Project management: As head of the campaign, campaign managers need to be able to delegate staff members and lead their teams effectively.

  • Knowledge of fundraising: Campaign managers are responsible for the campaign's budget, so they must understand how to fundraise.

  • Creative thinking: To design effective campaigns, campaign managers need to be innovative and creative.

Salary and job outlook for campaign managers

The national average salary for a campaign manager is $61,383 per year. However, this amount may vary depending on an individual's level of education, amount of experience and specific location. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports an estimated job growth of 9% from 2019 to 2029 for public relations and fundraising managers, which have many of the same duties and expectations as campaign managers.

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Frequently asked questions about campaign managers

If you're considering becoming a campaign manager, here are some answers to common questions you might have about the role:

What's the difference between public relations managers and campaign managers?

Public relations managers are responsible for promoting their client's public image, whereas campaign managers work to promote a candidate. The overall goal of a public relations manager is to sell a product or promote an idea, while campaign managers focus on helping their candidate win an election.

Related: Public Relations: Everything You Need To Know About Working in PR

What are the benefits of being a campaign manager?

Some of the benefits of working as a campaign manager include:

  • Opportunity for control and authority: Overseeing campaigns gives you control over any decisions that need to be made about marketing and the candidate's overall public presence.

  • Travel opportunities: To meet with potential voters, campaign managers travel to events, conferences and meetings.

  • Ability to work with a variety of different people: Depending on the campaign you run, you may get the chance to work closely with people from all places and backgrounds, including celebrities and well-known political figures.

How can you decide which campaign is right for you?

If being a campaign manager is something you are considering, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining if you want to lead a small or large campaign. Here are some steps you can take to decide which type of campaign is best for you:

  1. Consider the level of responsibility you want. If you want to hold a high-level position as a campaign manager, working on a smaller, local campaign may be the best choice for you because it can be easier to get promoted and gain more responsibility.

  2. Decide what salary you want. When selecting a campaign to work for, consider whether the position would be paid or voluntary. Large and small campaigns provide a mixture of both opportunities, but larger campaigns have the potential to offer you a higher salary over time.

  3. Determine if you are willing to travel. Decide if you are willing to travel frequently for the job. Larger campaigns tend to involve more traveling for events and meetings than smaller campaigns.

  4. Consider how long you want to be in the field. Local campaigns tend to last only a few months, while national campaigns can take up to two years. When determining the best type of campaign for you, consider how long you want to be working as a campaign manager for a specific candidate.

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