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Everything You Need to Know About Working as an Iowa Legislative Clerk

Legislative Clerk

August 31, 2023

A legislative clerk is a person who works with a State Representative during the legislative session. This person provides administrative support to an individual Representative and they work in close proximity to the Representative. They assist the Representative in research for proposed legislation, draft emails/letters to constituents and schedule and coordinate meetings with outside groups. The legislative clerk works roughly 32 hours per week with the hours being set by the Representative. Let’s look at the frequently asked questions about working as a legislative clerk.

What It’s Like to Be a Legislative Clerk

Q. When is the Legislative Session?

The Legislative Session runs from the second Monday in January for either 110 days (the odd year of the General Assembly) or 100 days (the even year of the General Assembly). Representatives typically meet Monday through Thursday and are in their home districts on Friday. In the final few weeks and days of session, it is common to work on Fridays or weekends.

Q. Would I be required to work weekends?

No. You are paid for 32 hours, which is normally Monday through Thursday. The hours vary depending on your Representative. Hours are normally Mondays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Q. Is this a paid position?

Yes. You are paid for 32 hours per week during session which runs from January through April.

Q. What are some examples of tasks/duties assigned?

Tasks might include:

  • Scheduling meetings for the Representative and managing their schedule to make sure they are at all the committee and subcommittee meetings they serve on.
  • Scheduling follow-up meetings about proposed legislation as needed.
  • Writing newsletters or putting together parts of the Representative’s weekly newsletter.
  • Managing emails and correspondence as needed tracking legislation through the process and preparing the Representative for committee meetings and debate on the Chamber floor.
  • Meeting with constituents who are visiting the Capitol for the day.
  • Acting as photographer for the Representative.
  • Recording minutes of and being able to publicly speak at committee meetings, by calling roll.

Q. Who is the Ideal Candidate for this job?

The ideal candidate is someone who has strong organization skills and is able to switch to different tasks quickly. Ideally, the candidate is a person who is able to prioritize the workflow and have quick meetings with the Representative about questions or details that need answered. This person can establish and maintain effective working relationships with other employees, elected officials and members of the public. They can act with discretion and have the flexibility to work after 5 p.m. during the week when needed, and if committee work is running late.

Q. What are the skills required for the job?

Some Representatives require clerks to have social media skills. Knowledge of Microsoft Office products, Outlook and other related computer systems is helpful. The candidate will learn and use the Legislature’s computer system used to schedule committee meetings.

Q. Is there any training? Or orientation?

If a refresher on Outlook or other Microsoft Office products is needed the Legislature offers training in November and December, and you can take as many classes as you would like that are offered. We have a mandatory orientation the first week in January. The orientation is three to four hours long and will cover how to use the legislative computer system, discussion of Chamber and Capitol decorum, as well as many other first week job items.

Q. How do I apply?

Applications are taken online at legis.iowa.gov/careers from Aug. 11 until the end of December. Once you apply your application is sent to Representatives who are looking for a clerk. Representatives will contact you to set up an interview. Most Representatives start looking for clerks between October and November, and we hope to have all spots filled by Friday, Dec. 15 this year.

The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization.

Meghan Nelson

Meghan Nelson is Chief Clerk of the Iowa House of Representatives in Des Moines, Iowa.