How does “politician” work as a job/career?
How does being a politician work as a job or career? Obviously when you are in office you get a salary (at least at national level). But what happens when you lose the election, or you are running for office but not yet in it? Do you get anything from your party? Do "campaign contributions" or the local equivalent help to pay your salary?
I get the impression that income distribution of politicians is heavily skewed: national politicians get lots of money, but do local ones get little or nothing, maybe having to fund their hobby out of their own pockets? Is there an exploitative bottom end? With lots of young hopefuls putting in the leg work in the hope of making it big one day (i.e. like the entertainment industries and academia)?
I'm primarily interested in the UK, as that's where I live, but insights from other countries would be welcome too.