Qualifications Needed to Become a U.S. Senator

Oct 20, 2021

Learn about the qualifications needed to become a United States senator. Get a quick view of the constitutional requirements to be a senator and details about salaries, job duties, and state requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

How to Become a Senator

The qualifications to become a U.S. senator are stated in the U.S. Constitution, article one, section three, and clause three. The Constitution states that to become a senator an applicant must meet a specific age, citizenship, and residency status.

The U.S. Senate was formed in 1787 by a convention informally referred to as the 'Framers of the Constitution.' These requirements have been in effect since that time. There are no constitutional amendments that apply to the requirements for becoming a U.S. senator.

Age 30 years or older
Citizenship U.S. citizen for at least 9 years prior to running
Inhabitancy Must reside in the state in which they are elected
State Requirements Pass background check
Be up-to-date on taxes
Meet state registration requirements
Skills Legal, business, or teaching experience; exceptional organizational, leadership, and communication skills
Job Outlook (2018-2028) No change (2 senators per state by law)
Annual Salary (2019) $174,000
$193,400 (for president pro tempore and the minority and majority leaders)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Senate.gov

Steps to Becoming a Senator

There are no specific education or training requirements to become a senator, but many senators have experience in law or business, and they often hold at least a bachelor's degree. Some senators have an undergraduate degree in business management or a constitutional law degree. Solid leadership, communication, and organizational skills are vital for anyone who wishes to be elected senator. Below is a list of actions and recommendations that can provide a candidate with the U.S. Senate qualifications in order to have a successful career as a senator.

  1. Earn a Degree - It is important for senators to have good educational experience in a field like political science or law. While this is not a U.S. senator requirement, most senators have at least a master's degree in these fields.
  2. Run for Local Office - Becoming involved as a local committee person or assembly person is crucial to becoming a senator. You need to build a track record and establish your name to get elected to state office, then a local congressman, and finally to the U.S. Senate.
  3. Develop a Campaign Platform/Team - You'll need an effective campaign manager, public relations and advertising person, and a fund raising manager. The fund raising manager is the most important person on your team because of the cost to campaign. The more money you have to advertise, the more well known your name will be and it will be easier to gain support from party politicians.
  4. File for Candidacy - In order to get your name on the ballot, you need a minimum number of signatures from registered voters in your party. You will file your candidacy with your state's Secretary of State.
  5. Campaign - Campaigning is the most important step to becoming a senator. The point is to get your message out to the people through advertising, social media, and public speaking engagements.

What is a Senator and How Are Senators Elected?

A senator is responsible for representing the people of their state; they must inform the public, serve on committees, and introduce legislation. Senators are elected to a six-year term, with one-third of the Senate up for re-election every two years. Each state is represented by two senators.

What are the Requirements to be a Senator?

Let's take a more in-depth look at the different qualifications that must be met to become a senator.

Age Requirement for Senate

The Senate age requirement to serve as a U.S. senator is 30 years of age. James Madison, one of the framers of the Constitution, justified the requirement for how old to be a senator by saying that serving as a senator required greater life experience and stability of character, according to the United States Senate (www.senate.gov).

Citizenship Requirement for Senate

To run for the Senate a candidate must be a U.S. citizen for nine years prior to applying for the Senate. The nine-year rule helps ensure that foreign-born senators show more loyalty to the United States than to their countries of birth. This helps promote fairness when senators have to deal with treaties and make other foreign policy decisions.

Inhabitancy Requirements for Senate

Another one of the requirements to run for Senate is for the candidate to be an inhabitant of the state in which he or she is elected. The Constitution does not specify for how long a Senate candidate must reside in the state in order to run.

Additional State Requirements

In addition to the constitutional requirements, further qualifications to be a senator include meeting state registration requirements, be up-to-date on taxes, and pass a criminal background check. Registration requirements may vary by state, but typically include being registered with a political party and being eligible to vote.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also noted that candidates might benefit from legal, business, or teaching experience. They must also have exceptional organizational, leadership, and communication skills to represent their state effectively.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The job outlook for senators is based upon the rules established for term lengths and number of senators; because the Constitution limits the senate to two senators per state, there won't be any additional senators unless a new state enters the union. According to the United States' Senate's website, most senators made $174,000 annually in 2019, while the president pro tempore, and the minority and majority leaders, made $193,400.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?