Legislative Assistant Job Description
Legislative assistants usually work in the legislative branch of government, such as the United States Congress or a state legislature, providing a variety of support services to lawmakers. What does a legislative aide do exactly? While their primary responsibility is to assist legislators in the lawmaking process, their duties are often a mix of research, communication, public relations, and administrative tasks. Legislative assistants typically follow a regular weekday schedule but may also have to work overtime or on weekends, particularly during hectic legislative sessions.
Legislative assistants conduct legal research and constituent surveys to gather relevant data for crafting legislation. They may prepare reports and briefings to keep legislators updated on issues that are important to their constituents as well as other pertinent matters that can impact policymaking. They also track the progress of bills by monitoring committee hearings and co-sponsorship developments.
Communication and Public Relations
As part of their communication duties, legislative aides meet with constituents and other stakeholders to note their concerns and respond to inquiries. They serve as a liaison between legislators and government agency personnel, state officials, community organizations, and other interest groups. They also work with press officers and other staff in preparing newsletters, press releases, speeches, memos, and other official correspondence.
Legislative assistants are responsible for various administrative tasks such as supervising interns and volunteers, organizing the legislator's schedule and travel arrangements, and setting meetings and appointments. They work with other legislative staff to set up town hall meetings and district events. They may also manage the day-to-day office operations and ensure the proper filing and storage of documents.
Legislative Assistant Salary and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), legal support workers earned an annual average salary of $56,130 as of May 2018. In the U.S. Congress, salaries of congressional staff, including legislative assistants, are set by the members of the House of Representatives, subject to a maximum cap. As of 2018, legislative assistants working in House Members' offices had an average annual salary of $55,304, according to the Congressional Research Service. As for state legislatures, control over legislative assistant salary and benefits varies depending on the state. Some states allow legislators to set the compensation of their staff while others require lawmakers to adhere to a predetermined wage schedule.
Based on data from the BLS, employment of legal support workers is projected to increase by 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
Legislative Assistant Educational Requirements
A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum educational requirement for legislative assistant jobs. Degrees in political science, communications, public administration, social science, business administration, and other related fields are often preferred. Experience or training in the legislative process can provide a competitive advantage as well. Aspiring legislative aides may benefit from taking free legal courses online to shore up their knowledge of laws and legal procedures. Prior training as a legal assistant may also be helpful in legislative work. Some colleges and universities offer online legal assistant courses, such as on the U.S. legal system and legal research and writing.