For an organization or business to be effective, it needs to be able to portray a positive image and achieve constructive ongoing relationships with its clients. To do this, organizations depend on qualified communication and public relations specialists and managers.

Communication and public relations specialists and managers work to create and maintain positive relationships with the public. By understanding and empathizing with an organization's consumers and employees, communication and public relations specialists are able to proactively shape their organization's image while establishing and securing successful relationships with the company's employees, the public, and the media.

Public relations and communication degrees of all levels teach the principles of effective corporate and public communication, and can qualify graduates for positions as communications and public relations specialists and managers.

Communication and public relations specialists and managers schedule news conferences, write press releases and newsletters, and organize media coverage and consumer events that help to maintain communication between the organizations that employ them and the general public.

By helping to strategically convey an organization's goals, accomplishments and services, communication and public relations specialists work to constructively promote their company's image, and maintain positive consumer relationships.

Communication and Public Relations Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Communication Specialists, Public Relations Specialists, Communication and Public Relations Managers

The need for qualified and experienced communication and public relations specialists is growing rapidly. As businesses expand nationally and globally, they depend increasingly on communication and public relations professionals to communicate their message and sustain successful relationships with potential consumers. Because these positions are attractive to many professionals, available positions are expected to be very competitive.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 275,200 communication and public relations specialists in 2008. The field is expected to add 66,200 new positions, for a 2018 total of 341,300. That 24% growth rate is much higher than the average for all occupations, and the 8.2% predicted expansion of the entire civilian workforce.

Communication and PR specialists will experience an occupational growth rate almost 3 times as fast the predicted 8.2% growth rate of the entire civilian workforce.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a resource of the Department of Labor's Employment & Training Administration, reports that there will be a total of 131,300 openings for communication and public relations specialists from 2008 to 2018. That figure includes new jobs added by occupational growth and existing positions that open due to retirement, career change, early termination, etc.

Communication and Public Relations Earnings

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that communication and public relations specialists made an annual median of $51,280 in 2008. The middle 50% made between $38,400 and $71,670, while the bottom 10% of the field made less than $30,140 and the top 10% made more than $97,910.

Communications and PR specialist earned median wages of $51,280 in 2008.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earnings vary significantly depending on the sector or state in which an employee works. For example, in states like California and New York, communications and public relations specialists typically earn much more than the national median, with median annual wages of $66,310 in California and $63,790 in New York.

Communication and Public Relations Educational Benefits

A bachelor's degree is generally required for entry-level communication and public relations positions. Degrees in communications, public relations, business or finance will best prepare the student for a career in the field, but degrees in related fields like economics, sales, or IT, and relevant work experience will also qualify graduates for some positions.

Communications or public relations bachelor's degrees typically take 4 years to complete. Because of the competitiveness of the field, many manager positions often prefer candidates with communications or public relations master's degrees.

Experience is also a necessary component when attempting to secure employment. Many students choose to participate in public relations or communications internships during their undergraduate studies. Internships and work experience help students gain valuable experience, making them more attractive candidates for entry-level positions.

According to the Occupational Information Network, only 5% of working insurance and risk managers have no formal education beyond a high school diploma. 14% have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree) while an overwhelming 81% have a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree.

81% of communication and PR specialists have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

As the O*NET data shows, earning a degree is essential to showcase necessary qualifications and securing even entry-level employment in the highly-educated communication and public relations field.

Communication and Public Relations Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Many communication and public relations degrees of all levels are offered online. Some students choose to earn their degree in business or business management with a specialization in business communications or public relations. Others earn their degree specifically in communications or public relations. Either way, formal post-secondary education can provide the student with the qualifications necessary to obtain entry-level work and eventually advance in the communication and public relations field.

The best online communication and public relation degree programs offer a rigorous education comparable to one received at a local ground school, but in a more flexible format that may be better suited to working professionals seeking to simultaneously enhance their credentials in a competitive job market.

As with any serious educational decision, do your research when picking an online communications or public relations program: is the school accredited? Do credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically? You can find the answer to many of those questions on this network of Web sites, but don't be afraid to ask questions of your admissions counselor.

Communication and Public Relations Skills and Abilities

Communication and public relations specialists must be able to effectively communicate in a variety of mediums. Excellent writing and research skills are needed to effectively and concisely present information. Creativity and an artistic eye are helpful, as communication and public relations specialists and managers often work with advertising and marketing professionals on visual material.

Public speaking skills are important for those specialists like media spokespeople who handle interviews or give press conferences.

Perhaps most importantly, communication and public relations specialists must have strong interpersonal skills in order to interact with the public, an organization's employees, and its executives.

Active listening skills are important, so communications and public relations specialists can engage in a constructive and satisfying dialog with potential customers.

The ability to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment and to meet deadlines is essential.

Communication and Public Relations Qualification and Advancement

Most employers prefer well-rounded candidates with communications and public relations bachelor's degrees for entry-level positions as Communication and Public Relations Specialists.

Most employers prefer candidates with communications and public relations master's degrees, including MBAs, for supervisorial Communications and Public Relations Manager positions.

Additional Information

The Public Relations Society of America maintains a Web site at http://www.prsa.org.