He attended Os Senior high school from 1985 to 1988. He earned a degree in marine engineering from Bergen College of Engineering in 1992, and later studied at the Norwegian School of Economics.
He was also a deputy member to the Norwegian Parliament from 1997 to 2001. Søviknes is still mayor of Os and did not lose his local support after the incident. In fact, the support for the Progress Party in Os, from the 1999 local elections to the 2003 local elections increased from 36.6 to 45.7% (the highest share of votes for the party in a municipality for the election).
The success was repeated in the 2007 local elections when he was reelected by a landslide.
The candidate from the Conservative Party who came in second, jokingly commented that "You don"t challenge Terje Søviknes in Os." He was yet again reelected in the 2011 local elections, this time however by a far lesser margin. This led to speculation that he could be ousted from power by a coalition of the other parties.
Søviknes remained in power with the support of the Conservative party. As Mayor of Os
Os has since by himself and the media been seen as a showcase municipality for the Progress Party.
lieutenant was also established a "full" stop of immigration and a local Vinmonopol store.
Successful in being consecutively elected as mayor from 2003 to 2007, in this term the main issues was development of the city centre, better drug addiction recovery programs, development of schools and construction of a waterpark. While the municipality was struggling with large deficits before Søviknes became mayor, this has since been turned into a significant surplus as of 2004. His successful career as mayor of Os has gained him the nickname the "Wizard of Os" by the media.
Søviknes was from 1999 to 2001 vice chairman of the Progress Party together with Siv Jensen, and was considered as a possible successor to Carl I. Hagen as chairman of the party.
He however became controversial after an incident at a party congress in 2001 where he had committed adultery with a 16-year-old intoxicated member of the Youth of the Progress Party.