President Pro Tempore

Lead the Senate in the absence of the Vice President.
picture of President Pro Tempore

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$16,000 – $84,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do President Pro Tempores do?

The President Pro Tempore is in charge of the United States Senate when the Vice President isn’t available. The job title makes the temporary nature of power in the position quite clear, as “pro tempore” means “for the time being.” This doesn’t mean, however, that the President Pro Tempore position itself is temporary. In fact, some people have held the President Pro Tempore position for decades, which is quite an achievement in Washington, where upheavals are common and job titles are ever changing.

As the President Pro Tempore, you’re an expert on matters of parliamentary procedure, and you’re required to speak up when someone is breaking the rules. Often, you allow new Senators to sit in for you so they can learn those rules and experience a taste of power. Passing off the task is helpful to you as well, as you likely have committees to serve on and other important tasks to handle.

If something catastrophic happens and the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House are killed, you’re next in line to take over the management of the country. Prior to 1947, you were second in line to the Presidency, but you were booted back one place by President Truman.

This is often considered a ceremonial position, so you may not have many specific duties associated with the role. At times, however, you may be asked to elect Senators to committees, call special sessions of the Senate, or meet with the President on specific matters of importance. Also, you often act as a mentor, guide, and Advisor to junior Senators who are green and need to learn how the Senate works.

Should I be a President Pro Tempore?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Leader: You're good at taking charge, giving directions, and inspiring other people.

  • Also known as: President Pro Tempore of the United States

    How to become a President Pro Tempore

    We recommend at least a Bachelor's degree. Check out these schools offering President Pro Tempore-related education!
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