A lobbyist's salary depends on several factors, including her area of expertise, experience, as well as whether she lobbies federal, state or local lawmakers. The foundations for a successful career in lobbying include a political science or related degree, one or more political internships, campaign experience, and strong research, writing and interpersonal communication skills.
While most of the media attention is focused on a few of the highest paid lobbyists, the average lobbyist makes approximately $45,000 per year, according to the website eLearnPortal.com. Lobbyists in the top 10 percent of earners command salaries well over $100,000, but lobbyists in the bottom 10 percent draw less than $30,000.
Influence of Expertise and Party
A lobbyist's annual salary is subject to the laws of supply and demand based on federal, state or local legislative agendas, and which party is in control. For example, if Republicans gain control of Congress after an election, those lobbyists with strong Republican ties become more valuable. In addition, lobbyists with specialized experience in issues at the top of the legislative agenda will also command higher salaries or hefty bonuses. For example, in 2009, when Congress debated health care reform, the average salary for Congressional lobbyists in the health care, energy and financial fields was $177,000 according to "The Hill," a political trade magazine.
Total compensation packages can reach $1 million, or higher, for those lobbyists with proven track records, or who have served as a federal, state or local lawmaker, or top-level aide. For example, in 2009, Richard Pollack of the American Hospital Association, made $1,087,024, according to Kaiser Health News. Bill Tauzin, a former Congressman from Louisiana, made $2 million per year in his position as president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, according to the "The New York Times."
A lobbyist can also draw a salary to support a comfortable lifestyle without setting foot in Washington, DC, by working to influence state or local lawmakers. The average total compensation packages for lobbyists in Los Angeles, is approximately $105,000 per year, according to the Economic Research Institute (ERI). Lobbyists based in New York City make an average of $112, 780, while those living in Miami make an average of $92,519, according to ERI.
- The Hill; "Democrats' ambitious legislative agenda pushes K Street salaries skyward";Silla Bush
- Kaiser Health News: "How Top Lobbyists Were Paid in 2009"
- The New York Times;"Health Reform in Limbo, Top Drug Lobbyist Quits"; Duff Wilson and David Kirkpatrick
- Economic Research Institute: Lobbyist Salary Survey Data
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