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What Can You Do with a Communications Degree?

A man with a communications degree at a podium in front of an audience giving an oral presentation.

A communications degree is a great way to prepare yourself for a career in fields ranging from media relations and journalism to marketing, corporate communications and many more. By developing your ability to clearly communicate information to colleagues, internal and external audiences, or the general public in a variety of formats, you can equip yourself with the skills to work in a huge range of career fields and job roles.

Karen Wilkinson and the text Karen Wilkinson.“Communications touches every field,” said Karen Wilkinson, associate dean of liberal arts at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with others is a coveted skill set in every workplace environment.”

No matter what field you work in, you'll have to communicate your knowledge and information to others. Nearly every business values employees who can:

  • Communicate effectively in a variety of methods, including verbal and written communication and in print and digital mediums. 
  • Contribute to projects as part of a team and use clear communication to engage and cooperate with colleagues and other partners. 
  • Develop professional, interpersonal workplace relationships with junior staff, peers, managers and clients.
  • Give face-to-face and virtual presentations to team members, senior leadership and outside stakeholders.

These skills are applicable across a broad range of industries and communication platforms, which are continually changing as technology advances. 

What Jobs Can You Get with a Communications Degree?

Because the skills you develop in a bachelor’s in communication program are valuable in so many ways, there are a large number of fields you can find yourself working in, Wilkinson said, including:

  • Public Relations
  • Brand Management
  • Non-profits
  • Corporate Communications
  • Training
  • Government Relations
  • Social Media
  • Professional Writing
  • Journalism
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Sales
  • Business Communications
  • Other mass media professions

Communications Major Jobs

Within many of those professional fields, there are also dozens of job roles you may find yourself in thanks to your communication skills.

Social Media Strategist or Social Media Director

If there are businesses that don’t use social media as part of their marketing and customer relations strategies, they are few and far between. As a social media strategist, you would likely be a member of a company’s marketing team charged with developing strategies to develop and engage an audience interested in the company’s products or services on a variety of platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, according to Payscale.com. You could be involved in creating and developing marketing campaigns delivered on social media channels and using analytics to track the effectiveness of those campaigns. 

Social media strategists made a median salary of $52,000, according to Payscale.

As a director of social media, you would be a member of a company’s management team and work with various departments across the business to build brand awareness and loyalty with a consistent message to potential and existing customers. Social media directors are also often tasked with developing a cohesive social media strategy, leading social media projects and upholding brand standards on social media channels, and more, according to Payscale.

Social media directors make a median salary of $72,000, according to the site.

Public Relations Specialist

A public relations specialist works to create a positive image in the public eye for the business or organization they work for. They work with members of the media to provide information and access to executives, write press releases and advisories to publicize company events, offerings or other initiatives, and generally function as the communication bridge between internal organizational affairs and members of the public, from customers to reporters to investors. Public relations specialists made a median salary of $60,000 in 2018, and the field is expected to grow 6% through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Copywriter

Copywriters usually work at an advertising firm or as part of an in-house marketing team and are the professional communicators who write the words we all hear, see and read on advertising of all kinds. From television and radio commercials to billboards, brochures and web ads, a creative copywriter wrote the promotional pitches driving sales across thousands of industries. Copywriters have to be able to meet with outside partners and internal stakeholders to understand the aim of a marketing campaign and target audience and then produce the pithy and informative phrases and taglines that inspire action from consumers. Copywriters make an average salary of $50,000, according to Payscale.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers - as well as advertising and promotions managers - have many of the same tasks, according to BLS, including:

  • Planning advertising campaigns
  • Negotiating advertising contracts
  • Launching marketing research analyses 
  • Managing a marketing, promotions or advertising staff

Marketing managers also evaluate the demand for a company’s products and services and how the company compares to competitors. They also work with other departments - including sales and product development teams - to help maximize customer satisfaction. 

Marketing managers made a median salary of $132,000 in 2018, and the field is expected to grow by 8% through 2028, faster than most other professions, according to BLS.

Journalist

Working as a journalist means communicating with the public daily. Whether you’re interested in being an on-air or print reporter or working behind the scenes in traditional or online media, communication skills are vital, according to Monster.com. Reporters are expected to gather information about events happening in their community, interview sources and use their research skills to find new information and write or produce articles and broadcast stories for public consumption. As a reporter at a larger organization or newspaper or magazine, you may specialize in specific topics, such as breaking news, sports, politics or community feature stories.

Reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts made a median salary of $43,000 in 2018, according to BLS.

Other job roles that Wilkinson said are a good fit for communication majors include:

  • Corporate Trainer
  • Advertising Executive 
  • Fundraising Manager
  • Communication Manager 
  • Community Relations Specialist 
  • Internal Communication Manager
  • Digital Media Specialist
  • Company Spokesperson
  • Brand Manager

Communications in Technical Fields

But according to Wilkinson, that’s not all. Technical fields also need good communicators and the transferable skills, sometimes called soft skills, that you develop earning a communications degree can serve you well in many other areas.

“Many students pair or infuse communication studies with their technical foundation so that they are better able to utilize their liberal arts knowledge to extend their value within the contemporary workplace,” Wilkinson said. “This comprehensive knowledge adds to a candidate’s marketability and to one’s breadth of knowledge as employers are looking for candidates who offer an array of strong skill sets and stand out among a sea of candidates.”

Communications Degree Skills

It can be more challenging to define the transferable skills you develop in a liberal arts major like communications compared to, for instance, a degree in information technology or accounting. Wilkinson said SNHU recently revamped its BA in Communication program and identified critical skills students will gain, including:

  • Ability to deliver quality oral, written and visual communications
  • Learn how to create messaging for target audiences
  • Apply design principles and communication technology to reach audiences and gauge the effectiveness of those messages
  • Develop social media strategies to reach diverse audiences
  • Use leadership skills to effectively execute communication strategies
  • Critically analyze and recommend strategies to shape communications for personal, group and organizational settings
  • Evaluate, choose and utilize tools and technology to most effectively communicate
  • Evaluate and respond to complex problems related to designing and delivering communications
  • Apply professional, ethical and socially-sensitive communication practices

Is a Communications Degree Worth It? What Employers Really Want

A communications degree is worth it because employers really are looking for employees with highly developed soft skills and are having trouble finding them. Inside Higher Ed reported, citing a survey by education technology company Cengage, that the most in-demand skill the 500 hiring managers, 150 HR professionals and 1,500 college students and graduates noted was listening skills, followed by attention to detail and effective communication.

Another survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that more than 73% of employers valued strong written communication skills highest, followed by leadership and the ability to work as a part of a team, according to Inc.

“Communication is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. As communication is strongly interlaced with technology, it is constantly evolving,” Wilkinson said. “This is what makes communication such an exciting field as the tools and platforms are consistently progressing and delivering new and innovative ways for us to reach and inform audiences on a global scale.”

Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.

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