What are the qualifications to be a member of Congress?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The United States Congress, as you know, is comprised of two bodies: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Together they are referred to as the Congress. Elected senators serve for six-year terms, and elected representatives serve two-year terms. When their terms are up, they are eligible to run again, which the majority of Congressmen (and women) do. 

Each state has two senators to represent it, and the Senate is known as the more stately house. Ideally, it does not feel the same pressures to act on anything immediately because they know they have a six-year term. Representatives, however, often feel compelled to "deliver" something that benefits their constituents in a shorter amount of time. This can be both a positive and a negative, but if quick action is called for, it is the House who will deliver it. The number of representatives is always 435, and how many each state gets is in direct proportion to its population. 

The official requirements for both offices are fairly simple and minimal, and they are set forth in Article 1, sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution.

A representative must be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for seven years, and be a resident of the state (although not necessarily the district) from which he or she is chosen.... A senator must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen for nine years, and be a resident of his or her state....

That's it.

In recent years, however, it seems as if there are some unwritten guidelines for these offices, as well. In general, a candidate must have no "secrets" which might later be revealed. He or she  must look appealing (this has been true since the age of television). Most importantly, the candidate must have a LOT of money with which to wage a campaign, as the cost of winning elections has increased dramatically. 

Obviously there are exceptions to the unwritten rules, but those set forth by the Constitution are inviolable.

udonbutterfly | Student

First you have to choose which body of congress you would like to be apart of which could be either the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In order to become apart of the House of Reps you must be a Citizen of the United States with a residence of up seven years here and you must also be 2 years of age or older while living in the state you plan to represent. The way the House of Reps are voted in would be that instead of the set two for every state like the senate the number of House of Reps that each state gets depends on the population and there is a set number of 435 for the entire country. For example California has 55 and Texas 34. If the population of a certain state gets bigger they gain Reps while another looses reps.

In order to become apart of the Senate you again have to be a U.S. residence with at least nine years of staying here consecutively. Also you must live in the state you plan to represent and be at least 30 years of age. Unlike the House of Reps only two can come from each state and they are voted in every six years.

arrellbelle | Student

In order to be a member of congress, there are two bodies that one can be a part of; the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both houses have their own specific qualifications that you must make in order to be considered a member:

[House of Representatives]:

  1. US Citizen
  2. 7 years US residence
  3. Live in the state you represent
  4. 25 years old +


  1. US Citizen
  2. 9 years US residence
  3. Live in the state you represent
  4. 30 years old +
rachellopez | Student

To be a member of the House of Representatives (one of two parts of congress), the Constitution has some qualifications you must meet. You must be at least 25, have been a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years, and live in the state you would like to represent. You must also take an oath before you start.

To become part of the Senate, you must be at least 30, have been a citizen for at least 9 years, and when elected you must not inhabit then state you will represent.