Becoming a good government lobbyist requires a lot of skills, but you won’t get them at lobbyist school because lobbyist school doesn’t exist. Many lobbyists work in government before they ever lobby the government -- this is a field where who you know is as important as what you know. What you know is important too, however, and most government lobbyists have academic majors that prepare them to easily communicate with legislators and navigate the legislative system.
The connection between political science and government lobbying is obvious. A political science major prepares you to analyze political systems and think critically about political ideologies. If you graduate with a political science degree, you’ll be armed with a sharp understanding of different levels and branches of government and their functions, the legislative process and the role of a political representative. Lobbyists need to know about all of these things, and a political science major is one of the best ways to learn about them.
Lobbyists are often criticized for being professional schmoozers, but to lobby the government you need to build good relationships with members of government. Since good relationships are built on good communication, it’s no surprise that many government lobbyists have communications degrees. A communications major can give a future lobbyist the skills she needs to talk about difficult issues with finesse and persuade the government to take certain actions.
The language of government is law, so to talk to the government, a lobbyist has to be fluent in legislation. A college major in legal studies can give lobbyists a definite edge. At the most basic level, lobbyists seek to influence legislation, so a degree in legal studies can familiarize future lobbyists with the most fundamental element that they’ll be working with. While a legal studies degree won’t guarantee a lobbyist success, it will give them a solid foundation on which to build a career.
Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” made it clear that politics and economics are inextricably linked. A lot of legislation is dedicated to governing the economy, and almost all legislation impacts the economy. Lobbyists who understand how the market operates will have a better chance of being taken seriously by politicians and public servants. Few things teach people how the market operates better than an economics degree, which is why so many lobbyists have them.
Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.