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Career Paths for Communication Majors

Communications professionals make sense of our world. They take the billions of bits of data surrounding us, and turn it into useful, timely information that informs, entertains and educates people around the world. If you’ve seen a news story, read an internet article, bought something because of an ad, engaged with a company on social media, or learned more about products and services, it’s likely that a communications professional had a hand in it.

A degree in communication can advance or enhance your career possibilities. Earning potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on a candidate’s education and experience, skill levels, specializations and geography. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.

Journalism

It’s tempting to think that journalism is a career field in freefall. There have certainly been struggles at major newspapers and TV networks, but many companies are shifting their efforts and resources to embrace new media and new forms of communication. Gone are the days of the ink-covered reporter, tethered to a telephone and cowered over a typewriter. Today, you’ll find journalists sharing information through a variety of media, working hard to keep the public informed about the news – from a recent White House announcement to the latest move by the Kardashians.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average pay for a reporter and correspondent was $49,770 a year in May 2016. The top 10% earned $86,610, while the lowest 10% earned $22,120.

Public Relations and Advertising

The goal of people in public relations and advertising goes beyond just informing people about a product, service or company. They must generate attraction, interest, desire and, ultimately, action – a model of marketing that goes by the acronym AIDA. That means these professionals must go beyond simple awareness and play an active role in how brands are perceived. They must also understand the buyer process: What drives people to make purchasing decisions.

Today, the world of public relations and advertising goes beyond press releases and magazine ads. Professionals must be fluent in all forms of communication on all media. There are various possibilities for people in public relations and advertising. The BLS reports the average pay for public relations specialists is $66,540 annually as of May 2016, and the field is projected to grow by 6% through 2024. The top 10% earned $110,560, while the lowest 10% earned $32,090 annually.

Advertising and promotions managers had an average annual salary of $117,810 as of May 2016, according to BLS data. Job outlook is expected to grow by 9% from 2014 to 2024.

Social Media

In a connected world where every second counts, today’s companies and brand must be living, dynamic and responsive. Social media marketers work to provide short bursts of content at the most relevant time. This can be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other emerging social media platform.

Social media communication is relatively new. Facebook was founded in 2004, and Twitter dates to 2006. Social media communicators must be able to convey a lot of information in a very small space – as little as 140 characters on Twitter, or one image on Instagram. They must also be fast, reacting to events as soon as they happen. This means that social media professionals must be intimate with their audiences, knowing what interests them and monitoring their public activity.

The BLS doesn’t have a specific category for social media communicators. It categorizes them as a type of public relations specialist.

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