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Career profile: Parliamentary researcher

Career profile: Parliamentary researcherIf you're interested in working in politics, being a parliamentary researcher puts you at the heart of the action.

What is a parliamentary researcher?

Parliamentary researchers work for MPs. As the name suggests, a lot of their work involves research on a variety of topics, but they also:

  • write speeches, briefings and press releases
  • deal with letters from constituents
  • organize and attend meetings
  • monitor parliamentary business
  • manage other staff

Researchers spend most of their time in Westminster, but there will be some travel involved. They might sometimes have to work in the MP's constituency, as well as attending party conferences, which take place in Autumn and Spring.

Researchers are also likely to have to work into the evening some of the time, since parliament sits as late as 10.30pm on Mondays.

How can I become a parliamentary researcher?

There aren't fixed requirements for becoming a parliamentary researcher, but you'll normally need:

  • communication skills, both written and oral
  • research skills
  • understanding of how parliament works
  • good political knowledge, especially of the areas the MP is closely involved with

You'll also be expected to agree with the aims and values of the MP's party, and you'll have to pass security checks before you can start work.

The best place to look for parliamentary researcher jobs is Working for an MP, which is funded by the House of Commons. You might also be able to find an internship or work experience placement which will improve your chances.

How much do parliamentary researchers earn?

Pay varies depending on your experience and who you are working for: although there is a suggested pay scale for researchers, MPs don't have to follow it and have a limited budget to pay for staff, so you might get less. As a general guideline, researchers can expect to start on about £23,000 a year.

Where can it lead?

Working as a parliamentary researcher is a common first job for people who are interested in a political career. It provides valuable experience of how parliament works, which is useful in careers such as journalism or campaigning, and can also get you into other jobs with the party.

On the other hand, working for an MP means that you can't count on keeping your job if there's an election coming up, and there's no simple career progression, so you'll have to be prepared to take control of your own career.

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