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Also known as:
City Alderman, City Council Member, Congressional Representative, Councilor, Legislator, Member of Congress, Selectman, Senator, Tribal Council Member

Video transcript

In a democracy, citizens look to elected officials to create or change laws and provide funding for essential services such as education and roads. Legislators may serve on a city council or town commission, in a state house or senate, or in the United States congress. They introduce, examine, and vote on bills that determine how taxpayers' money will be spent and what laws will govern their community.

Legislators and their staffs often hold hearings, conduct investigations, and hear from constituents and other groups interested in the policies being considered. There are usually minimum age, residency, and citizenship requirements, but there is no formal experience needed to serve as a legislator.

You should be comfortable speaking in public, making decisions, and working toward compromise, in order to meet the often conflicting demands of your constituents. A background in law or business management can be helpful.

Some legislators work part-time, often for little or no pay, while others may work 60 or more hours per week. They need to run a campaign for re-election regularly, as the voters determine who is hired. The first step is finding out what's needed to get yourself on the ballot for the position you seek. No matter what level of government they are in, legislators must be committed to the public good, weighing all the needs of the community to make decisions that affect all of us.


Develop, introduce, or enact laws and statutes at the local, tribal, state, or federal level. Includes only workers in elected positions.