While some degrees offer a clear career path, such as a bachelor’s in accounting, earning a communication degree offers a plethora of career options. When you earn a communications degree, you can enter public relations, digital media, and human resources, among many other disciplines. If you’re interested in one or a few of these areas, a communications major affords you career flexibility.
To help you decide whether a communications degree is right for you, let’s look at 10 potential career opportunities, as well as their responsibilities and salaries for aspiring communications professionals:
1. PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALIST
A career in public relations is one of the most popular disciplines for communications degree graduates. Job titles within public relations vary, but a few common job titles include public relations specialist, account coordinator, account manager, media specialist, and more. A public relations expert helps maintain their clients’ brand message and overall image — often drafting press releases and speeches, managing media coverage, planning other PR campaigns, and more. Public relations specialists can work for agencies, schools, politicians, individuals, corporations, non-profit organizations, among many others.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a public relations professional is $62,810. This number (and other salary medians in this article) can vary significantly depending on your experience, the region of the country where you work, the size of the firm you work for, and whether you have an advanced degree.
The BLS estimates that jobs in public relations will grow at a rate of around 11 percent over the next decade — faster than average for job growth across all industries.
Public Relations Specialist Job Responsibilities
Common job responsibilities of a public relations specialist include:
- Writing speeches or press releases for a company or organization
- Keeping up with media coverage for a brand
- Planning and tracking campaigns for brand management, including press releases, media events, and case studies
- Maintaining brand consistency over multiple platforms and press organizations
- Working with marketing teams to develop effective brand stories
- Helping clients understand the services of a brand, company, or organization
2. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of new social media channels. In the last ten years, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat grew in popularity and are now a staple when speaking to many social media users. In addition to these big names, there are social media sites for book enthusiasts, knitters, people who play in garage bands, and a host of other niche markets. In total, there are more than 500 social media sites, with more emerging every month.
With this explosive growth, businesses across all disciplines understood the need for a dedicated social media manager. Social media managers develop a clear, specific, and measurable strategy aligned with business goals, use either native or third-party social media tools to post information on a business or corporation’s social media platforms, ensure all messaging aligns with the brand, monitor conversations and customer feedback, answer comments, and more. Effective communication plays a crucial role in the success of a social media manager, as they engage with online communities, respond to inquiries, and maintain a positive brand image. If you love all things social media, from post creation, algorithm research, and analytics, a career as a social media manager may be for you. According to Glassdoor, the national median annual salary for a social media manager is $55,117. However, as we mentioned, this may vary based on the region of the country, past experience, and type of business you work for.
Social Media Manager Job Responsibilities
Job responsibilities you may have as a social media manager include:
- Maintaining a company or organization’s brand using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat
- Working with a marketing team to develop social media marketing campaigns
- Researching trends in social media and informing marketing teams of trends and changes that may arise
- Interacting with customers over social media platforms
- Interacting with shareholders of a brand or company using social media platforms
- Setting performance indicators, or KPI’s, for social media marketing campaigns, such as the number of shares, likes, and related signs of customer interaction with the campaign
Social media managers often work with public relations teams, marketing teams, and other groups within a company to keep the brand consistent.
With a communications degree, you can also choose to develop your career as a copywriter. A copywriter handles written communications, such as blog and social media posts, press releases, e-books, speeches, and marketing and advertising copy. A copywriter might work for an agency, a public or private organization, or as a freelancer.
As a copywriter, having solid writing skills is paramount, but you will be responsible for more than just writing. You must understand your client or organization’s brand voice, target audience, and more. You may need to write both technically and creatively, often collaborating with other teams to ensure the messaging rings true for the brand. A copywriter may also be responsible for editing copy, depending on the size of the organization for which they work.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a copywriter is $67,120. Over the next decade, the BLS estimates copywriter job growth to increase by 9 percent.
Copywriter Job Responsibilities
As a copywriter, your job responsibilities may include:
- Writing blog posts, social media posts, website content, and press releases for a brand or company
- Learning and understanding the voice of the brand and writing content based on the company’s voice
- Collaborating with marketing teams and PR teams to ensure consistency in blog posts and related content
- Writing e-books for the company, particularly as it relates to company services and tools
- Reading, interpreting, and evaluating technical information and then developing copy to explain concepts to customers in a user-friendly manner
- Working with clients to edit and improve copy that reflects their needs
Copywriters may work with a variety of teams as well as clients on different content. The role of a copywriter depends on the needs of the company.
4. MARKETING SPECIALIST
Whereas public relations specialists, copywriters, and social media manager positions are more specialized, a marketing specialist’s responsibilities may be broader. Sometimes, a marketing specialist position will also include public relations, graphic design and social media responsibilities, depending on the size of the organization you’re working for.
A marketing specialist may be charged with coming up with new advertising slogans and campaigns, managing the website and social media accounts, outlining and implementing the company’s marketing plan, developing digital marketing campaigns, analyzing and reporting data on marketing goals, and creating a company’s brand message.
Like many of the positions offered in the communications field, you can work in a variety of sectors, including private or public businesses, education, healthcare, government, non-profit, and more.
According to Glassdoor, the national median annual salary for a marketing specialist is $55,445. However, as we mentioned, this may vary based on the region of the country, past experience, and type of business you work for.
Marketing Specialist Job Responsibilities
Marketing is a critical part of any business. As a marketing specialist, job responsibilities may include:
- Researching the target audience and market for trends that may improve company performance and sales
- Working with creative teams to develop effective branding ideas or promotional materials
- Evaluating potential marketing channels and developing a strategy to incorporate useful channels into a marketing plan
- Establishing relationships with new clients
- Maintaining existing relationships with clients
- Developing marketing campaigns to encourage customers to use a company’s services or products
A marketing specialist may work in a variety of areas for a company. Depending on your role within the company, you may work directly with clients or with other teams.
A journalist reports current news and events in as unbiased a way as possible and may work for a newspaper, television station, magazine, online publication, or other publishing platforms. Journalists may also work as freelancers selling stories to several publications. Journalist job titles also vary – you may see positions for an announcer, broadcaster, journalist, reporter, television announcer, and more. If you’re interested in a particular media station, take a look at the job openings on the careers page.
According to the BLS, the annual median salary for a journalist is $49,300. They estimate that the number of journalism jobs in the US will grow by around six percent over the next decade.
Journalist Job Responsibilities
The job responsibilities of a journalist may include:
- Learning about and understanding the audience of a newspaper, news channel, or similar media outlet
- Researching and exploring information that is relevant to the audience of the media outlet
- Presenting factual information without personal bias
- Engage with politicians, celebrities, or other public figures at press conferences or similar locations for news stories
- Conducting interviews with parties involved in a news story
- Tracking down individuals involved with stories to verify information
A journalist serves the public and presents information to keep the public informed. The role of a journalist may be challenging in some areas of the news.
6. BRAND MANAGER
A brand manager is a more specialized type of marketing manager. This type of marketing professional defines and oversees a company’s brand message and strategy, develops and implements marketing campaigns, conducts research and competitive analysis, and ensures consistent messaging across internal and external communications medium channels.
Brand managers utilize a number of marketing skills in their positions, including social media management, copywriting, public relations, event planning, and more. However, your position may vary based on the type and size of the organization you choose to join.
According to Salary.com, the national median annual salary for a brand manager in the United States is $105,517.
Brand Manager Job Responsibilities
The job responsibilities of a brand manager include:
- Creating designs and setting up a layout for online social media outlets that reflects the company’s tools or services
- Building relationships with online influencers, media outlets, and related groups
- Writing pitches for a company as well as social media posts or blog posts
- Setting up and engaging in meetings with clients to update them on the brand’s services, products, or tools
- Deciding on branding costs and analyzing customer spending habits as it relates to the brand
- Overseeing a company’s social media presence and ensuring consistency throughout all platforms
A brand manager plays a critical role in the image of the company. They may work with multiple teams within the company to ensure consistency.
7. SALES REPRESENTATIVE
Communications graduates can also excel in sales. Sales careers can include real estate professionals, pharmaceutical sales reps, wholesale sales reps, insurance sales professionals, and many more.
Sales representatives should demonstrate proficiency in both hard and soft skills, including sales and account management, sales and marketing strategies, customer service, leadership, negotiation strategies, and effective verbal communication.
In general, a sales representative’s salary is often tied to how much the representative sells. However, the BLS lists the median annual salary for a wholesale sales representative as $61,600 and the median annual salary for a real estate salesperson as $48,340. In addition to the other caveats, this number will vary quite a bit among different industries. The BLS estimates that the number of jobs in this field will grow by around five percent over the next decade.
Sales Representative Job Responsibilities
As a sales representative, your job responsibilities may include:
- Identifying prospective customers and developing lead generation within a target audience to sell a product or service
- Answering customer questions about a product or service
- Contacting new or existing clients to find out about their needs or concerns
- Highlighting the advantages of using a brand’s products or services
- Maintaining customer contact lists and following up with customers over time
- Keeping up to date with the products sold by the company to provide accurate information as new updates or products become available
A sales representative works directly with clients to sell a product or service. They may interact with multiple teams to stay updated about changes to products, marketing strategies, or related information.
8. MEDIA PLANNER
Developing a career as a media planner serves as another excellent career option for communications graduates. A media planner acts as a liaison between a marketing and advertising agency and a client. A media planner collaborates with the client and account teams to understand the client’s business, strategy, and target audience and develop an advertising strategy that best optimizes budget and performance. Depending on the client, a media planner may plan and place advertisements in television, streaming services, radio, print, social media, and more. With some organizations, you may start your career as an assistant media planner and work your way through the ranks.
Media planners also analyze previous advertisement or campaign performance and present their findings to their clients. They also make recommendations to further optimize and maximize performance.
According to ZipRecruiter, the median annual salary for a media planner is $62,382 in the United States.
Media Planner Job Responsibilities
The job responsibilities of media planners may include:
- Researching the media landscape and identifying social media trends
- Building relationships with clients, social media influencers, and media platforms
- Maintaining existing relationships with various groups and clients
- Clarifying the best media mix for a company’s goals, brand, and image
- Monitoring online performance and reporting data to stakeholders
- Evaluating offline performance of marketing campaigns
A media planner may work with social media specialists, marketing teams, and PR teams to make adjustments to long-term strategies.
9. HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIALIST
Good communication skills are essential for a human resources specialist. HR professionals interact with company employees, write and administer the company employee handbook, help recruit candidates and orient new hires, as well as communicate benefit plans and policies to employees.
If you choose to work for a larger organization, you may specialize in a particular area as a human resources specialist. Some professionals focus on recruiting and are required to travel to job fairs and speak with prospective candidates. Others may specialize in compensation, and benefits, among others.
Human Resources Specialist Job Responsibilities
The job responsibilities of a human resources specialist or a human resources manager include:
- Managing company recruitment and dismissal procedures — hiring and firing
- Make sure job descriptions are accurate and up to date
- Developing training materials for new employees
- Providing feedback to employees through performance-management tools
- Ensuring proper compensation based on research into appropriate salaries for various jobs and roles
- Keeping up with changes to employment regulations based on the company, employees, and services provided by the brand
A human resources specialist may take on multiple roles and responsibilities. For example, companies and human resource professionals understood the toll the pandemic took on the workforce’s mental health and well-being. Some companies offered additional paid time off (PTO) for mental health days and others implemented health and wellness programs for their team. While colleges and universities promote self-care tips for students, the same tips apply to all — we all should practice healthy habits to lead happier lives.
Politicians must demonstrate superior communications skills to connect with their constituents. You see this in campaigns, speeches, and legislation documents. Politics is a broad field and encompasses everything from your local registrar to the President of the United States — with many jobs in between.
In addition to those in elected office, your communications skills can be well used as a political appointee, in positions like a communications director or press secretary.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a politician is $122,510. The BLS estimates that the number of jobs in this field will grow by approximately six percent over the next decade.
Politician Job Responsibilities
A politician has a responsibility to the people who elected them to office. While the specific job responsibilities depend on the role within the governmental department, the job duties you may expect to perform include:
- Public speaking, such as giving speeches to your constituents
- Proposing bills and laws for consideration among peers
- Voting on laws, statutes, and other legislation
- Giving your constituents a voice for their concerns
- Meeting with members of the public to learn about their concerns
- Developing a budget and clarifying where tax money is spent
Politicians represent their constituents in government. While their specific role may vary based on whether they are in local, state, or federal positions, they primarily work to address the needs of the public.
The career possibilities and the opportunities are vast when you earn your degree in communications. While a degree in communication can get you started in many of these careers, an internship or graduate degree may also be required for some of the careers on this list. Here at Johnson & Wales University College of Professional Studies, we offer a bachelor of arts in communications and a bachelor of science in advertising & marketing communications. For more information about completing your communications degree, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].