Political commentators use their knowledge of political behavior and governance systems to offer insightful analyses of political issues to various audiences. Their awareness of current political issues and events is exceptional, as is their ability to acquire and analyze political information. A career as political commentator is suitable for competent communicators with a passion for politics.
Obtain Professional Knowledge
The first step to becoming a political commentator is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science, journalism, mass communications or a related field. A political science degree should enhance your understanding of several facets of politics and governance, including race and ethnicity, modern politics, the American government and foreign policy. Upon graduation, you may opt to find a job and gain some relevant wok experience, or proceed to graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in political communication to broaden your political knowledge.
Develop the Requisite Skills
To be a competent political commentator, you need strong analytical skills and the ability to give an impartial perspective on various political issues. When the United States decides to renew its ties with Cuba, for instance, you should be capable of examining both sides of the issue to determine how the improved relations will benefit or harm both countries. Clear verbal and written communication skills are also important, as the job may involve interviewing politicians to gather their political views, and writing persuasive editorial opinions for newspapers, magazines and political blogs. Finally, you must be a computer proficient individual with good Internet skills, because keeping tabs on political developments on social media and other digital communication platforms is an essential element of the job.
Build Your Professional Reputation
Many employers have a strong preference for political commentators with a solid professional reputation, because they can attract a sizable audience. To build a reputation, you can start as a journalist, reporting political news for regional news organizations, or establish a blog where you can post your political opinions. You can also join the American Political Science Association to gain access to industry publications and secure invitations to events where you can interact with other professionals in the field.
As an established political commentator, you can find employment with large TV networks, publishers of national newspapers, political journals and political websites. Some experienced commentators advance to become political editors, while others move into self-employment and establish political consulting businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of all political scientists will grow by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022 -- that's greater than the 11 percent average for all occupations.
2016 Salary Information for Political Scientists
Political scientists earned a median annual salary of $114,290 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, political scientists earned a 25th percentile salary of $86,600, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $141,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 7,300 people were employed in the U.S. as political scientists.