When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution of the United States, they all shared the belief that the powers of government should be divided equally among the governing units. As a result, two governing bodies were formed to ensure that the rights and desires of the people of each state are recognized. One group is called the Senate and the other group is the House of Representatives. However, the qualifications and job description for each governing body are different.
Official Job Requirements
The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 2), lists the official requirements you must have to be a member of the House of Representatives. One, you must be at least 25 years of age. Two, you must be a citizen of the United States for at least seven years prior to election. Lastly, you must be a resident of the state you choose to represent.
Unofficial Job Requirements
There are several unofficial requirements that are not stated in the Constitution that are needed to be a member of the House of Representatives. First, you must have loyal backers to help support you and to help raise large sums of money for your campaigns. Second, you must have personal charisma to attract voter support. Third, you must have the physical stamina to hold up against the endless hours of meeting people, being interviewed, giving speeches, attending numerous social functions and participating in constant traveling. Lastly, you will have to be aware that you will be a public figure and that you and your family will be under scrutiny for past, present and future actions.
As a House member you represent a certain district in your state. This means that you will stay in touch with your constituents and, hence, you will be more aware of their opinions and needs and be able to advocate for them in Washington. Also, one of your major job duties will be to raise revenue through taxes. Further, you will participate in committees to study bills, hold public hearings, get expert testimony and listen to votes so that legislation can be passed. Further, you might serve on a joint committee with Senate members.
Terms and Campaigns
An elected member serves a two-year term. At the end of two years, you will need to run another campaign and win to return to office. This may continue as long as you are successful. Elections are held in even-numbered years in November. In contrast, a Senate member serves a six-year term. Whereas, there is only two Senate seats per state, the number of House members per state depends upon the population of that state. For example, California has 53 representatives versus Montana only has one.
Wages and Benefits
According to The Center on Congress at Indiana University, as of January 2009, the annual salary of a Representative is $174,000. The Speaker of the House earns an annual salary of $223,500. Further, Majority and Minority leaders earning $193,000 annually. Representatives also receive lifetime benefits after they have served five years; which include a pension, health benefits and Social Security benefits.