In Summary - Politician
Politicians typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Politician
Politicians work either independently or for a political party, representing the views, interests and concerns of their local population at local, national or European Union level. They may also contribute to forming and putting into practice party policy, for example, on social, economic, domestic and foreign policy issues. Local people in specified areas (constituencies) elect politicians.
In a democracy, the people elect politicians to represent them in government, to act on their behalf and to protect their interests. People expect politicians to care deeply about the social, economic, domestic and foreign policy issues that affect them. Politicians may represent their local areas (constituencies) in the Dáil. Politicians also represent the interests of their constituencies in the European Parliament.
Members of the Dáil (TDs) divide their time between helping people in their constituencies and taking part in central government.
Politicians run open sessions (called surgeries) at set times, which are open to everyone who lives in their constituency. People can go to a surgery to discuss the issues that concern them. Some people may be very angry or upset by a particular issue, so the politician must listen carefully and ask the right questions to find out how best to help them. Sometimes politicians cannot solve a problem at the constituency. They may ask a political researcher to find out more about an individual's case, which may take a long time to resolve. The politician may even raise the case at a government meeting.
To solve a problem, or to prevent it happening again, politicians may work closely with representatives from the local authority and the police. They may hold meetings to discuss the issues and see what they can do to help people.
We are used to seeing televised sessions of the Dáil, where politicians get the chance to debate important issues and propose changes to the law. This exchange of views is very healthy in a democracy; it can also be very lively, with politicians from opposing parties attacking each other's policies and asking difficult questions. The media may interview some politicians, especially if they hold important positions in the Government or opposition parties. They also appear on the news or other television programmes to answer questions from the audience. &n
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Analyze and understand the local and national implications of proposed legislation.
- Appoint nominees to leadership posts, or approve such appointments.
- Confer with colleagues to formulate positions and strategies pertaining to pending issues.
- Debate the merits of proposals and bill amendments during floor sessions, following the appropriate rules of procedure.
- Develop expertise in subject matters related to committee assignments.
- Hear testimony from constituents, representatives of interest groups, board and commission members, and others with an interest in bills or issues under consideration.
- Keep abreast of the issues affecting constituents by making personal visits and phone calls, reading local newspapers, and viewing or listening to local broadcasts.
- Maintain knowledge of relevant national and international current events.
- Make decisions that balance the perspectives of private citizens, public officials, and party leaders.
- Negotiate with colleagues or members of other political parties in order to reconcile differing interests, and to create policies and agreements.
Interests - Politician
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
To be a politician, you should be committed to helping people, and to representing the interests of the people who elected you. This means working hard to stay in touch with people's problems, needs and wishes in your constituency.
You'll need very strong communication skills, to explain your ideas and your party or council's policies clearly and concisely to others. You should also have good listening skills, for example, to find out about people's problems during open (surgery) sessions in the constituency. You'll need lots of confidence and you must be assertive - some politicians speak to large crowds of people, or appear on television programmes to answer interview questions.
Politicians must be quick thinkers, able to spot a weakness in their opponent's argument and exploit it with a difficult question or challenging remark. However, the flip side of this is that you must be resilient and able to cope with criticism yourself; sometimes you may have to deal with angry protests.
As a politician, you will have a very responsible role in society; you'll be in a very powerful position. However, no matter how powerful you become, you must remember that it is the people who elect politicians and therefore allow them to have this power. As a result, people have strong expectations about the way that a politician should behave. You have to think carefully about your lifestyle, and be prepared for strong interest from the media.
In contrast, you must also be able to make tough decisions - even ones that might not be popular with the public - if you believe that a policy is best in the long term.
Entry Requirements - Politician
Pay & Salary - Politician
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 87k - 190k
Basic: €87k + travel and expenses allowance.
Last Updated: April, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.