Are you interested in influencing public policy for the betterment of our public health? Do you have a working knowledge of the law making process in the United States or a desire to learn this process? If so read on for details about a career as a health legislative assistant.
What is a Health Legislative Assistant?
A health legislative assistant works as an advisor and support to elected government officials. The legislative assistant will research and inform senators and congressmen on health related topics that affect a local, regional, or national population. Some of the typical duties of a health legislative assistant include:
- Learning and becoming an expert on health related topics
- Manage schedule of elected official
- Arrange travel and transportation for official
- Research and prepare speeches for the elected official
- Represent their elected official at meetings
- Assist with drafting laws related to health
To be an effective legislative assistant you should possess the following characteristics:
- Ability to research and comprehend health related policy
- Strong attention to detail
- High level of organization
- Excellent written and verbal communication
- Understanding of the legal process in the United States
The nature of the work of a legislative assistant is fast and furious. The legislative assistant can expect to work odd hours seven days a week. The legislative assistant is likely supporting an elected official. The elected official is always subject to losing their appointment and will need excellent support to fulfill their responsibilities and earn re-election. The legislative assistant will be involved in administrative duties including responding to mail, answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, responding to email, and handling paperwork.
The legislative assistant will help inform the elected official on policy initiatives and community needs. Research and writing skills are necessary to be an effective legislative assistant. Often legislative assistants will represent their elected official at meetings and conferences. The legislative assistant needs to be well informed as to the topic of discussion and able to speak on behalf of their elected official. The legislative assistant will report back to the elected official on outcomes and developments from meetings and seminars.
The legislative assistant will act as an advisor to the elected official regarding drafting of new bills. The legislative assistant will research policy and events to inform the elected official regarding editing existing bills or drafting new policy.
The legislative assistant needs to be an excellent communicator. You will be speaking to individuals and groups regarding policy initiatives and law making. You need to be informed and able to clearly communicate with elected officials and the public. You will be asked to represent your elected official and need to present in a polished, professional manner. You will need to give accurate feedback and guidance to the elected official in a timely manner. The legislative assistant will be involved in public relations and may draft media releases and speak on behalf of their elected official to media outlets. The legislative assistant will assist with researching and writing speeches.
There are many great things about this career. It is exciting to be involved in the political arena. Things are ever changing and you will likely be doing something different every day. It can be rewarding when law is created that benefits society. It can be exhausting work with long hours and frequent travel. There is also pressure as elected officials are required to satisfy the voting public or risk losing re-election. As with any career you need to determine if the positives of the position make up for the less attractive aspects.
Education and Training
Exact education and training for a health legislative assistant career will vary depending on the organization in which you work. Typically a degree in political science, government, or law will be required to secure a position as a legislative assistant. Many legislative assistants have their post-secondary law degree and understanding of the legal process in the United States. Salaries of legislative assistants are determined by members of congress and will depend on how legislators choose to allocate their budget. Payscale.com reports the annual salary of the legislative assistant in 2013 to be between $27, 814 and $60, 782. The job market for a legislative assistant is competitive. If you are interested in working in this field you will want to investigate specific representative or committee organizations for employment opportunities.