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Acquiring a degree in communications opens a multitude of doors for graduates for a variety of educational or professional opportunities. From journalism to organizational communication to public relations to visual media, career opportunities are vast, to say the least.
If you know you want to pursue a career in communications, but you’re not positive on what your finish line looks like, declaring a communications major is the perfect way to equip yourself a competitor for professional roles.
Communications professionals value experience to gain a hands-on skillset. This creates a myriad of opportunities for graduates to study and practice communications across industries. A communications degree can give you access to the tech industry, human resource positions, agency work and in-house experience. Even if you don’t wind up in a communications role, this degree makes you a uniquely-equipped employee and gives you a competitive edge when applying for roles.
In order to become a communications pro, you must enjoy and hold proven outstanding creativity, writing skills, and a strategic mindset. You will often need to proactively identify business trends, insights and action plans.
Here are some of the core skills a communications major will develop:
Other nice-to-have skills include (but are not limited to):
As if choosing the degree weren’t hard enough, you’re eventually going to have to choose a career path which holds its own circus of questions. A communications degree is a golden key that grants access to seemingly infinite professional possibilities.
Those possibilities can be intimidating or empowering, depending on who you ask. Take time and think about your experiences. What did you enjoy most about your studies? What bridges the divide between who you are as a person and who you are a student? If you had the chance to do an internship, what did you value about it? Who did you meet?
Start developing a sense of what you want. Look at your network. See who among your contacts might have access to companies or roles that fit your “passion point.” Use your honed study skills to become an expert of the search. The key is to analyze the market and find a way to turn yourself into a category expert that will easily differentiate yourself from all other candidates seeking a position in your chosen category.
Become a student of your quest to find fit, and invite input starting with your own sense of what you want and then expanding out to your network.
Once you know what kind of role you’re after, refine your strategy for getting it. Work and grow your network. Meet with contacts you know in the industry-professors, professionals you met during internships, friends, family members and other contacts.
Check out professional societies and organizations, noting who you know among the membership. Ask your professors and peers about industry associations. See if you can attend a chapter event or a meeting as a guest. Then aim to make connections.
In the same way, see what your university offers in terms of alumni connections. This can be a rich resource for networking. Be open to mentorship, informational interviews and internship opportunities. All stand to help you learn more about what you want and what options are available to you.
Update your Glassdoor profile, and research companies and open positions. Cultivate an informed sense of what positions and companies you’re targeting. This way, when you get the chance to talk with contacts in your network, you can ask specific questions.
Refine your professional candidacy package. You want to be poised and ready when an opportunity presents itself, so have your materials ready to go.
Many professionals go on to lead long, happy careers after they earn a bachelor’s degree, without additional credentials. But if you feel inclined to continue your education, there’s ample support and reason to do so. Many communications majors choose to attend graduate school, which can be free for graduate students who teach or complete research.
Higher education is always an opportunity to further your knowledge of the industry and make yourself a more competitive applicant when applying for jobs.
Communications majors develop skills that can apply to a wide variety of jobs in a plethora of industries from journalism to law to design and tech. Here are a few of the most common jobs for communications majors:
Just starting out? Everyone has to start somewhere for their first job. Here are common job titles for communications majors and aspiring professionals:
Increasingly, employers expect you to have internship experience so that you come to your first job out of school ready to hit the ground running. We know that getting one can be tough, so here are some internships you should check out if you’re a communications major:
Average Base Pay: $59,000
Number of Open Jobs: 7,000
Description: Public relations gets a bad rap for being “spin doctors.” However, PR is an ethical, values-based profession that takes real skill to perform well. Public relations is a delicate balance of effectively communicating with both internal and external audiences while working to get both qualitative and quantitative media coverage. The duties include writing press releases, pitching, working with reporters, monitoring media and more. This is a great path if you love writing and working with others. As Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”
Average Base Pay: $50,700
Number of Open Jobs: 5,000
Description: This is a great fit for anyone who loves planning and management. Event coordination collaborates and organizes everything from catering to decorations to music to venue and more. It takes a strong communicator and manager to be a successful event planner.
Average Base Pay: $55,200
Number of Open Jobs: 20,000
Description: This is one of the hottest jobs for Millennials and Gen Z-ers. Social media managers are responsible for creating and relaying content in a fun, brand-consistent, digestible way, which takes skill and a mastering of communications principles. It requires creativity, strategy and precision to engage and mobilize your target audiences and elevate the organization for which you work!
Average Base Pay: $54,014
Number of Open Jobs: 7,000
Description: Media planners, like most communications roles, have to be masters of both creativity and strategy. In this role, you would create campaigns through detailed research and analysis. You would be responsible for identifying target audiences, creating messaging and deciding channels through which you will disseminate that message to beneficially maintain the newsworthiness of your organization
Average Base Pay: $54,000
Number of Open Jobs: 15,000
Description: Human Resources Specialists get a bad rep (see: Toby Flenderson from The Office). In reality, HR is an essential function of a company or business. Recruiting, benefit plans, employee data and personnel administration falls under the umbrella of Human Resources. If you have a knack for interpersonal relationships, organization and planning, check out some of the openings in HR!
Average Base Pay: $48,000
Number of Open Jobs: 2,000
Description: Talk about adrenaline. Reporters have one of the most exciting gigs in the league. As a reporter, you would proactively seek out newsworthy stories, interview relevant people, function under deadlines, oh, and write…a lot. This is the ideal career for the communications major who dreads the idea of being chained to his or her desk for eight hours a day and wants hands-on, world experience with interesting people.
Average Base Pay: $96,000
Number of Open Jobs: 35,000
Description: As brand manager, you would develop business and communications objectives to build brand equity while furthering corporate goals. This is a highly collaborative role, requiring a high degree of competence and leadership.
Average Base Pay: $45,000
Number of Open Jobs: 173,000
Description: Account executives, much like public relations specialists, work across various audiences to build credibility and foster relationships for a client or product. This is a role that empowers you to be independent while cultivating opportunities and innovating business practices.
Average Base Pay: $58,000
Number of Open Jobs: 6,000
Description: This role is research-heavy, requiring a great deal of complex thinking and the ability to relay data insights to the appropriate audiences. You should be able to be prescriptive and translate what business practices would diagnose those findings.
Average Base Pay: $40,500
Number of Open Jobs: 3,000
Description: This is a great fit for someone who is passionate about both helping others and the complexity of language. As an interpreter, you will have to think on your feet and progress discussions between parties, using your unique skills.
Having the commitment, depth of knowledge and skillset to pursue a communications degree is exciting. Plus, it prepares you for a career that’s rich with possibility! Here are a few more resources to help you on your path to success: