When you’re picking a major in college, so much of it is based on your interests and courses at the time. Once you’re getting ready to graduate, a bit of, “Okay, what now?” can start to settle in, as you try to figure out what the first phase of your post-college career will look like. For some, who pick very specialized or technical majors like Accounting or Computer Engineering, the next career steps are pretty clear. For others, like Communications majors, the sheer number of options can feel a bit overwhelming. If you have a Communications degree (or are thinking about one!), let’s look at some of the best career paths.
What’s involved in a Communications degree?
“Communications” can be a broad term, but at most schools, the Communications department studies how messaging works across written, visual, or spoken media. Students learn about communicating on different levels, from organizational to interpersonal. It may include specializing in certain areas, like digital marketing, public relations, writing for media, corporate communications, journalism, advertising, or social media.
There’s no single career path for Communications majors. They may work directly in the media industry, or in any industry (healthcare, tech, etc.) in roles that help organizations communicate internally or with the public. Understanding how communication works is a skill that applies to virtually any field.
What skills do Communications majors bring to the table?
One of the best aspects of a Communications major is that it gives you a broad base of skills that you can take to nearly any industry, depending on your interests and goals. Strong communication and people skills are often right at the top of the priority list for just about any employer, so savviness in these areas will help you in any workplace:
- Written and verbal communication
- Understanding professional communication versus personal
- Digital literacy
- Critical thinking
- Organization and project management
Whether you’re working in a direct communications role or looking for opportunities outside of a traditional media or public relations path, these skills will set you up for success in any job.
What are some of the best jobs for Communications majors?
Public Relations Specialist
In our fast-paced world, where digital word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire, companies are putting more resources than ever into their public image and messaging. A public relations specialist is responsible for managing a brand or reputation, often using traditional and social media to communicate particular messaging. PR specialists may be very public-facing or may work behind the scenes to move the company’s brand forward.
Salary and job outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, public relations specialists make a median annual salary of $62,810, and the number of jobs is expected to grow by 11% (faster than average) by 2030.
Perhaps one of the most “traditional” communications jobs, journalism is a direct way of messaging information to the public. Journalists are forensic storytellers, collecting information, conducting interviews, and analyzing data to find and tell a story. With the explosion of digital media (news websites and blogs, podcasts, social media) joining conventional media like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, opportunities are growing for reporters to tell their stories.
Salary and job outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, journalists make a median annual salary of $49,300, and the number of jobs is expected to grow by 6% (about average) by 2030.
If you’ve read any instruction manuals, you know that a lot rides on the quality of the writing—it can make the difference between a satisfying product and a botched mess. Technical writers take raw information (how something is assembled or set up) and make it accessible so that people can actually do it themselves. It’s a job that requires a lot of communications savvy: understanding how people take in and apply information is key, as is conveying that information in a user-friendly way.
Salary and job outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers make a median annual salary of $74,650, and the number of jobs is expected to grow by 12% (faster than average) by 2030.
Marketing or Brand Manager
Brand managers handle marketing for a particular product, service, or company, using communication to build and grow reputations. This is typically a very collaborative job, working with other business teams to meet goals and develop a strategy. It’s also a very leadership-oriented role, with the brand manager often leading the way on campaigns and resources.
Salary and job outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, brand/marketing managers can make a median annual salary of $141,490 depending on experience and location, and the number of jobs is expected to grow by 10% (about average) by 2030.
If you’re interested in working in print or digital media (like book publishing, journalism, or magazines), working as an editorial assistant is a great way to step into an industry and learn the ropes. Editorial assistants support the daily operations of a media company, in a role that may mean working with writers, supporting editors or other staff, copywriting or copyediting, handling administrative tasks, keeping things on schedule, or providing other kinds of support to make sure that the finished product (magazine, newspaper, book, etc.) is its best. This is often an entry-level way, but is a good opportunity to get started at a media company and decide what more specialized path you might want to take.
Salary and job outlook: According to Payscale, editorial assistants make a median annual salary of $37,291, and editorial jobs are expected to grow by 5% (slightly less than average) by 2030.