NDTC Staff Training Programs - National Democratic Training Committee

Learn more about Staff Academy

You are a passionate progressive leader who wants to launch or grow your career in politics but aren’t quite sure where to start. What kind of campaign staff training do you need?

NDTC offers three ways to get the training and skills you need to start or grow a career working on Democratic campaigns.

What is Staff Academy?

The NDTC Staff Academy is a 10-week program, offered once per year, designed to recruit, train, and connect new staff to paid career opportunities in Democratic politics across the country. Participants choose to pursue one of three areas of career specialization: communications, digital, or fundraising.

When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people.

What is The Online Academy for Campaign Staff?

Our Online Academy courses for campaign staff are interactive and available online 24/7. You can take as many or as few as you’d like on your own schedule.

Whether you want to build the skills needed to grow your political career, fill in a knowledge gap, or need the tools and insight to handle a campaign issue right now, the NDTC Online Academy has a training for you.

These in-depth and comprehensive trainings prepare you with the skills to raise money, communicate your campaign’s message, build a digital strategy to connect with voters online, and be an effective and inclusive leader.

Regardless of the specific role you play in a campaign or how far you are in your political career, our 30+ courses for staff and volunteers provide the tools you need to succeed. See our current course offerings.

What is the Democratic Strategy Institute’s Field Director Cohort?

The Democratic Strategy Institute’s (DSI) Field Director Training Cohort is an intensive, 9-week program designed to transform experienced and effective regional organizing directors into strategic and impactful campaign leaders.

When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and transgender and non-binary people.

Best of all, the program is free for anyone accepted.

So with three ways to get the training and skills you need to start or grow a career working on Democratic campaigns, we are excited to be able to offer a learning program for everyone who wants to build a career in politics.

But which campaign staff training program is right for you?

Let’s take a look.

On-Demand Campaign Staff Training Course

Like candidate courses in NDTC’s Online Academy, on-demand courses for staff are interactive and available online 24/7. Unlike participating in the Staff Academy cohort, there is no application or interview process to access the courses. You can take as many or as few as you’d like on your own schedule.

You can choose an area of career concentration with a suggested course progression and syllabus for each. These primarily include fundraising, digital, field, and communications. If you’re a campaign manager, many of our courses will be helpful to you, too.

We also offer courses to help you get started and figure out if a career in politics is right for you as well as several to help you improve your management and leadership skills.

See courses currently available in our course catalog.

You can take courses just in your preferred area of concentration or you can explore the entire course catalog to fill in knowledge gaps and gain a better understanding of the workings of a campaign.

  • Already Working on a Campaign?
    Great! Our on-demand training is perfect for you.
    If you already have a campaign job and want to sharpen or expand your skill sets, pick and choose which courses are right for you!
  • Seeking a Campaign Job, but Can’t Commit to the Staff Academy Program?
    On-demand campaign staff training is the answer. Here you can get the tools and training you need to pursue a career in politics, but do it on your own time schedule.
  • Not Sure if Politics is Right for You?
    If you are unsure if politics is right for you, but want to learn more and build your skills while doing that, on-demand campaign staff training is the best place to start.

Staff Academy

The NDTC Staff Academy is a free program designed to recruit, train, and connect new staff to paid career opportunities in Democratic politics across the country. When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people. These communities drive the Democratic party but are historically underrepresented on Democratic campaigns relative to their vote share. We want to ensure we, as a party, are representative of our voters.

Staff Academy is an intensive, 10-week virtual training program.

  • What are the Requirements of Staff Academy?
    • During the online training part of our program, which runs from January to March, you must be able to spend at least 10 hours each week to complete courses, weekly webinars, core skills assessments, and homework.
    • You also must be able to attend weekly webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at 7pm CT/8 pm ET. Your exact schedule will be determined by the area of career concentration you choose.
    • You must attend the entire duration of the four-day virtual live training.
    • You must also be willing and able to relocate to begin a full-time position on a Democratic campaign. While COVID-19 has increased the availability of remote work opportunities, we cannot guarantee potential employers will allow remote work. Temporarily relocating to work on a campaign is common. NDTC will support program graduates in finding campaign jobs by facilitating introductions and interviews with our partners.
  • The Staff Academy Community
    Cohort members also benefit from a strong collaborative and inclusive community of peers, sharing their knowledge and experiences to help each other succeed in the program and in their careers beyond.
  • Don’t Worry, It’s Free!
    The program is completely free for trainees.

Democratic Strategy Institute – Field Director Cohort

NDTC’s Democratic Strategy Institute is a 9-week completely virtual program designed to recruit and train experienced field staffers and organizers to become strong and effective Field Directors. Organizers are the true foundation of campaigns, and DSI is here to support them as they continue in their careers.

For DSI, we are looking for passionate and highly motivated leaders who have 2 years or cycles of field work or equivalent experience. When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and transgender (trans). These communities drive the Democratic party but are historically underrepresented on campaigns. We want to ensure we, as a party, are representative of our voters.

Similarly to Staff Academy, you need to commit at least 10 hours a week to attend the weekly live webinars, take all the online courses, participate in a mock interview, complete homework, and pass the skills assessments. You also must attend the DSI Virtual Live Training days in September and October, for the full duration of the sessions. These sessions will be several hours long during the day. You must also be willing to relocate to begin a full-time position on a Democratic campaign.

Are the Courses Different?

The courses available in the NDTC Online Academy are nearly identical to the ones used in our Staff Academy and DSI programs. While you may apply for Staff Academy or DSI even if you’ve taken courses in the Online Academy, know that you won’t have access to “new” courses with these programs.

That said, the experience you have while taking these courses will be vastly different.

In our Online Academy, you will be taking courses on your own, at your own pace, and with no grading components.

In Staff Academy and DSI, you will be expected to follow a course schedule. You will engage with other cohort-members taking the same courses. And, your work will be graded by our trainers.

Do You Want a Full-Time Position in Democratic Politics?

Since the actual coursework is the same, it’s important to take a look at both programs to determine which is right for you. From a logistical and time commitment standpoint, if either program works for you, your deciding factor should be based around your professional goals:

If you are interested in learning more about what it is like to work on a campaign or enhance your knowledge of a particular topic, then the on-demand campaign staff training courses are right for you.

Staff Academy or DSI may be right for you if you can commit to the course schedule, want a more rigorous course of study (including graded assignments), and are seeking a network of peers to help launch or further your political career.

Still Not Sure Which Campaign Staff Training Program is Right for You?

These charts can help you determine which campaign staff training program is best for you.

On-Demand Courses

Staff Academy Cohort

Democratic Strategy Institute – Field Director Cohort

Application required?

No. Any Democrat can sign up for the Online Academy at any time. Yes. The application includes submitting a resume and answering short answer questions about your experiences and motivation to work in Democratic politics. The application process may also include an interview with a member of the NDTC team. Yes. The application includes submitting a resume and answering short answer questions about your experiences and motivation to work in Democratic politics. The application process may also include an interview with a member of the NDTC team.

When can you start?

Anytime. There is no application and no cut off period for when you can start taking courses in the online academy (but the sooner the better so you can get out there and make a difference in your community).
Staff Academy only happens once a year. Applications open in late October for the next cohort. Online training starts in January. Please see our FAQ for a full timeline.
The DSI Field Director Cohort only occurs once a year. Applications open in June and online training begins in August. Please see our FAQ for a full timeline.

Who can apply?

Any Democrat. Our on-demand courses are open to any Democrat. Any Democrat committed to pursuing a paid career in Democratic politics. When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people. Any Democrat with at least two cycles of campaign or field organizing experience. When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people.

Course dates

Flexible. Take on-demand courses at your own pace with no start or stop dates. Set. You must complete the program requirements along with the rest of the cohort during the training period of January – March. Set. You must complete the program requirements along with the rest of the cohort during the training period of August-October.

Virtual Live Training

No. All training is done completely online. We offer monthly “virtual” office hours to ask questions of our team and there are online discussion forums within most courses to learn from other trainees. Yes. Each week, Staff Academy cohort members come together for a live webinar. The program also includes live weekly office hours and 1-1 support from NDTC Staff. You also must attend the live training days in March Yes. Each week, Field Director cohort members come together for a live webinar. The program also includes live weekly office hours and 1-1 support from NDTC Staff. You also must attend the live training days in September and October

Career concentration areas

Yes. Courses are categorized and syllabi available for six areas of concentration, including: fundraising, digital, field, communications, data, and campaign management, but online learners are free to take any of the available courses. Yes. Cohort members choose to apply to one of three areas of concentration: digital, fundraising, or communications. All members are trained on leadership and management skills. No. All members of the cohort are given the tools they need to succeed as campaign Field Directors.

Time commitment

Go at your own pace. You can take on-demand courses anytime and on a schedule that works for you. Time intensive program. Acceptance into the Staff Academy program requires a commitment to the 10-week intensive training program including online training and a four-day virtual live training. Time intensive program. Acceptance into the DSI Field Director cohort requires a commitment to the 9-week intensive training program including online training and four days of virtual live training.

Set schedule

No. Take as many courses as you want, whenever you want. Yes. There are weekly required webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings at 7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET. Your exact schedule will be determined by the area of career concentration you choose. Yes. There are weekly required webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings at 7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET, and weekly question and answer sessions Thursdays at 7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET.

Travel Requirement

No. All courses are accessible online, 24/7 and require no travel to complete.
No. Staff Academy is a completely virtual program.
No. The DSI Field Director Cohort is a completely virtual program.

Cost

Free. Access to all courses is completely free to any Democrat who wants to create change in their community Free. The program is completely free for those accepted. Free. The program is completely free for those accepted.

After Completion

Online learners will be ready to seek out paid jobs or be volunteer leaders on Democratic campaigns. If you are seeking a paid position, check out our Progressive Job Search and Presidential Job Search resources! Graduates of the Staff Academy Program will receive support to find a paid career in Democratic politics. NDTC provides helpful job resources like coaching and access to an invaluable political network. Graduates of the Field Director Cohort will receive support to find a Democratic Field Director job. NDTC provides helpful job resources like coaching and access to an invaluable political network.

 

Get Started Today!

Whichever campaign staff training program is right for you, we can’t wait to support you with the tools and training you need to launch (or continue) the career in Democratic politics you’ve dreamed of.

If you’re interested in any of our programs, check out these links to learn more about Staff Academy, DSI, and our Online Academy! And if you have any questions about our training programs or course offerings, reach out to us at [email protected].

Next Live Training

Do you Want to Run for Office?

October 18, 2021

8:00pm - 9:00pm (ET)

Online Academy

The training and tools you need, when you need them. Courses are available 24/7. Are you a candidate, campaign staffer or volunteer, at the beginning stages of your campaign or in the home stretch? We have the courses to address your specific needs and arm you with the knowledge to win.

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