Lobbyist Career

A persuasive tongue and quick wit are beneficial tools to have for the lobbyist, whose presence is a common fixture on Capitol Hill. Their primary objective is to sway legislators into making the kinds of decisions that can positively affect special interest groups, causes and their clients. The job involves a lot of research and analysis of current and past legislation. In the case of faith-based lobbyists, they often play a significant role in assisting religious organizations influence legislation related to controversial topics, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

It’s the job of a lobbyist to use their knowledge and presentation skills to influence public officials to act in favor of or against a specific cause, issue or political agenda. Usually employed by interest groups, from church organizations to the National Rifle Association, their goal is to elevate the public policies that benefit their clients or company agenda. Lobbyists also become experts in a specific field, cause, or area of public policy. They will sit in on congressional hearings, and then follow up with specific political forces, educating government officials and relevant parties on important issues.

Other common activities and duties of a lobbyist generally include:

• Establishing relationships with legislators in an effect to influence political decisions
• Creating awareness for client interests, both inside and outside of the political arena
• Monitoring legislative activity on behalf of an employer or clients
• Meeting with members of Congress in regards to a proposed bill
• Discussing federal funding efforts with government agencies
• Writing letters of support to lawmakers

Those who enter the career field must register as a lobbyist and maintain an upstanding status with the government. This included filing quarterly reports that list current contacts and highlight lobbying activities.


Lobbyists possessing at least a bachelor’s degree (preferably in political science, law, communications, public relations, economics and journalism) tend to fair better in the field than someone without any educational credentials. Individuals with a background or completed coursework in religious studies or theology (especially classes that cover political-centered subject matter) add a unique and authoritative voice to discussions. An advanced degree is preferred by most employers. A faith-based professional may also increase job opportunities when obtaining a certificate from the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

Career Salary & Job Outlook

Lobbyists fall under the general umbrella of public relations specialist positions, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was paid a median annual salary of $59,300 in 2017. Depending on years of experience, reputation in political circles, and a proven track record, employees have the potential to earn more $112,260 a year.

Lobbyists find employment with many different types of organizations, businesses and special interest groups, with religious-affiliated entities making up an influential portion of employers looking for support in legislation and public policy that coincides with their beliefs. For example, the second-largest, religious-affiliated group is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which serves as a part of the Vatican’s outreach in America. This organization spends over a quarter-million in advocacy, and often uses lobbyists as their representation.

Job candidates, who have completed the lobbying certificate program from the Association of Government Relations Professionals (AGRP), demonstrate to potential employers that they truly understand the process. Having years of experience as a lobbyist with certain political groups is also viewed as an asset when seeking employment.

The job outlook for this occupation stays in line with the average for all other occupations in the U.S., with a 9% growth rate expected to take place from 2016 to 2016. Organizations will continue to need representation in politics, and to have someone speak on their behalf – pushing for the legislative agendas that affect them the most. Overall, the public relations field expects 22,900 new job openings to become available during this time period, which includes opportunities for faith-based lobbyists to thrive.

Q & A

Stephanie Bell

How does one become a lobbyist, what type on education??

Lobbying is all about relationships. There isn’t really education degree other than most lobbyists have an advanced degree and many are attorneys. The most important features you can have as a lobbyist is to be likeable and credible.

I feel as though there is a stigma regarding lobbyist, what would you say to that?

House of Cards has given lobbyists a bad rap. Lobbyists provide information on issues that is invaluable to policy makers. It’s always important to tell both sides, the good and the bad and to be honest with lawmakers. The worst thing a lobbyist can do is to not tell the truth or tell the whole story. Yes money does buy a sort of access, but just because you have access doesn’t mean bad things are happening. Legislators need lobbyists to provide education. Nobody can read all those pages in sometimes very short time periods. Lobbyists also act to help guard against unintended consequences.

Ive never heard of lobbying for the government. I always thought lobbyist worked for companies to sway government.

As a government lobbyist I acted to help educate lawmakers on policy decisions. As a utility lobbyist there’s always devil in the details. One small change in legislation can mean higher utility rates. Nobody wants that!! For instance, additional consumer protections sound great, but is it worth the higher rate for consumers? Is deregulation of telephones good policy? Should ratepayers subsidize industry for economic development purposes? All these are issues that are discussed on a regular basis and I helped lawmakers weigh those decisions. They trusted me and relied on my expertise.

And how does it work when lobbying for the private sector?

In my consulting business now I rely upon those relationships and trust. I have always need known to be an “honest broker”. This type reputation allows me to help my clients with their legislative and regulatory needs.

Tell me a little bit about your day, and your career.

My day varies. During the interim I might play in a golf tournament in order to see legislators, or I might attend an interim committee meeting. January- April is always very busy as that is our legislative session . Things move fast and furious! I tell my clients that if your not at the table, you could be on the menu!

What do you like about your career?

Lawmaking is a bit like making sausage, it’s not for everybody! But I have had the opportunity to work with good people that have the best interest of the state in mind. There are a few bad apples in the bunch, but I think it’s like that for every profession.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a lobbyist?

I would say that you need experience working on issues in your state and you have to develop relationships. Never compromise your credibility because you can never get it back

Stephanie Bell