An old wag once noted that there are at least 600 ways to organize and run a Congressional office: 435 for the House, 100 for the Senate, and some extra models for those truly confused operations.
Truth be told, each Congressional office is like a separate business. Members of Congress design their own operations and do not have to follow any particular model. Below, we offer position descriptions used by most offices but not by all. In many cases, an office will take duties listed in one position and combine them with duties listed for another. For example, Members may designate an individual as an Office Manager/Personal Assistant. In that case, the person takes care of most of the traditional Office Manager duties but also handles personal travel and scheduling, correspondence, et cetera, for the Member.
The data for average salaries is for 2015 and comes from data compiled by the Congressional Research Service.
Chief of Staff / Administrative Assistant / Staff Director: The Chief of Staff is the top executive in the office and reports directly to the Member of Congress. He or she may also be referred to as the Administrative Assistant, which is defined differently on Capitol Hill than in the corporate world. Duties include overseeing all aspects of the Congressional office and being the top advisor to the Member on policy and political issues. He or she often represents the Member at meetings and is also responsible for hiring and managing staff. This person generally has substantial experience on Capitol Hill or was involved in the Member’s campaign and election.
$147,650 – House
$162,671 – Senate
Office Manager: The Office Manager oversees the daily operations of the office and is responsible for office supplies, office accounts, and the supervision of clerical staff.
$51,961 – House
Not available – Senate
Scheduler: The Scheduler is responsible for the Member’s schedule. He or she sets appointments and allocates time for Congressional responsibilities, staff obligations, and constituents. In addition, he or she may be in charge of travel arrangements and reservations.
$51,932 – House
$76,226 – Senate
Systems Administrator: The Systems Administrator is responsible for office computer operations. He or she maintains computer systems and provides technical assistance.
Not available – House
Not available – Senate
Receptionist / Staff Assistant: The Receptionist or Staff Assistant is the first entry-level paid position in the Congressional office. This person answers and routes phone calls, greets visitors, sorts and distributes mail, does data entry work, responds to constituent requests for tours and publications, and sometimes assists senior-level staff with legislative or press issues. He or she performs many of the same duties as interns, but with more responsibilities. The Staff Assistant may also be in charge of supervising office interns. Successful work may lead to a promotion to Legislative Correspondent upon a vacancy.
$37,958 – House
$38,956 – Senate
Press Secretary / Director of Communications: The Press Secretary is responsible for communicating the Member’s views to the media and to the public. Duties include acting as the Member’s spokesperson, writing press releases, speechwriting, writing or editing newspaper or magazine articles, and tracking local and national media. The Press Secretary is expected to be familiar with the characteristics and demands of both print and electronic media and be adept at utilizing the media to promote the Member’s cause and positions.
$69,302 – House
$73,754 (Press Secretary)/$122,710 (Communications Director) – Senate
Legislative Director: The Legislative Director oversees the legislative work in the office and supervises the legislative staff. This person tracks the legislative schedule, monitors the status of bills in Congress, assigns issues to the Legislative Assistants, and works with the Member and the Chief of Staff to devise legislative strategy. He or she may also supervise the drafting of legislation for the Member. The Legislative Director is responsible for promoting the Member’s legislative priorities and as such may need to maintain close contact with other Hill staffers, lobbyists, and the Member’s constituency.
$84,862 – House
$132,473 – Senate
Legislative Assistant: The Legislative Assistant is responsible for tracking and researching particular policy or legislative issues for the Member. He or she may work directly with the Member on these issues and is responsible for briefing the Member based on his or her research. Duties may also include drafting legislation, meeting with constituents, lobbyists, and other Congressional or governmental offices, answering constituent inquiries, and writing position papers.
$49,860 – House
$71,209 – Senate
Legislative Correspondent: The Legislative Correspondent’s main responsibility is to answer constituent inquiries and requests concerning legislation. He or she may also respond over the phone, e-mail, or in writing to interest group questions and concerns. This person conducts research on legislative issues, tracks legislation, attends committee meetings, and assists Legislative Assistants or other senior-level legislative staff.
$41,290 – House
$39,794 – Senate
Caseworker: The Caseworker is responsible for assisting constituents who need help dealing with federal agencies. Casework may involve troubleshooting and resolving problems with Social Security, veteran’s benefits, or other individual constituent concerns.
$46,269 – House
$47,047 – Senate
Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2001-2015, Congressional Research Service, November 9, 2016
Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in Senators’ Offices, FY2001-2015, Congressional Research Service, November 9, 2016