How to Become a Senator

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

A United States senator is an elected official serving in the senate, which is part of the United States Congress. Senators are elected for six year terms. They're assigned to serve on committees in which they review proposed laws, called bills. Each committee focuses on a different topic, such as budget, defense, health etc. Once a bill is passed in committee, senators must vote on the bill. If it's passed, the bill becomes law [source: Education].

There are only three eligibility requirements for a United States senator.

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  • You must be at least 30 years old.
  • You must have been a United States citizen for at least nine years.
  • You must live in the state you want to represent.

Although there are no set rules on how to become a senator, here is list of recommendations that will help you become a senator.

  • EducationIt's important for a senator to have a good educational background in political science and law. Most senators have at least a master's degree in one of those fields.
  • Get involvedMost senators work their way up the ladder before becoming a senator. Get yourself elected as a local committee person or assembly person. Establish a track record and get elected to state office, then as a local congressman and finally to the United States Senate.
  • Obtain your party support Gaining the support of the party politicians, known as the "party machine" can go a long way in helping you run for the senate.
  • Establish a campaign committee Appoint a campaign manager, select a public relations and advertising person, and hire a fund raising manager. The most important person on your staff will be your fund raising manager. Getting elected as a senator is very expensive, so the more money you raise, the more you can advertise and get your name recognized.
  • Get signatures and file You will need a minimum number of signatures from voters registered in your party to get your name on the ballot. You must also file your candidacy with your state's Secretary of State.
  • Campaign You're now ready to run for the senate. All that remains is to campaign heavily. With a bit of luck, you will be your state's next senator [source: Mahalo].

Originally Published: Apr 26, 2011

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How to Become a Senator FAQ

How do you become a member of the House of Representatives?
According to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, to become a representative, you must be at least 25 years old; be a U.S. citizen for the past 7 consecutive years; and, at the time of the election, be an inhabitant of the state you represent.
How much does a representative make a year?
Senators and representative salaries vary but on average, their annual salary amounts to $174,000. However, leaders make more than that. For example, a minority Senate leader will make about $193,500 per year while the Speaker makes around $223,500 per year.
How are U.S. senators currently chosen?
From 1718 to 1913, senators and representatives used to be appointed via legislation in the state they represented. However, this changed when the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913. Since then, these individuals are elected by popular vote.
What is the difference between a congressman and a representative?
While a member of the Senate is referred to as a senator, House of Representatives members are simply called congressman/congresswoman. Officially, both these titles are followed by the individual's last name and the number of their district.
What degrees do senators have?
There is no specific requirement for a degree to become a senator or representative. However, the majority (95 percent) have had a degree when in office.