Is a Communications Degree Right for You?

Those who are interested in being an effective communicator both in the workplace and in their personal relationships should consider an online bachelor’s degree in communications. Not only are clear communication and excellent interpersonal skills highly valued among business executives, but other soft skills in being able to listen effectively, be succinct, gauge the attitude of an audience, and exude positivity are also important, according to Chicago Business. While a bachelor’s in communication is ideal for people who plan on pursuing careers that involve public speaking or presentations, it is also a good fit for students who are undecided about their future career path, as it is applicable to a wide range of industries.

Advice for Earning Your Communications Degree Online

Since communications is such a versatile major, students should take extra care in selecting a minor or specialization to go along with it to maximize their success in the job market after graduation. A minor in business, journalism, public relations, or information technology can provide students with more of an anchor for their career path. For programs delivered entirely online, prospective students should check with the program coordinator ahead of time as to how public speaking assignments will be arranged.

Will you need to meet at a physical campus so that you can give presentations in front of your instructor and classmates, or will you need to gather your own audience members and film your speeches or presentation to send to your teacher later? Working students must be aware of any site-based requirements early on. We recommend only enrolling in programs that require face-to-face public speaking assignments, as this will equip you with real-world skills needed in the workplace.

Required Courses

Communications majors take courses that develop their oral and written communication skills, their ability to implement technology for effective presentations, and methods of persuasion and conflict management. Course work also teaches students how to communicate to individuals and groups, and how to approach diverse audiences. Specialized courses can include business communication, advertising and marketing communications, organizational behavior, and managerial communication. Typical courses include:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Fundamentals of Public Speaking
  • Negotiation and Persuasion
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Mass Communication

Common Career Paths

A communications degree is easily adaptable to a wide range of positions and can be beneficial in variety of career fields, with salaries varying greatly by your level of experience, the size and type of your employer, and the region of the country you live in. Earning a bachelor’s degree in communications could lead you to a business-related position involving developing marketing campaigns, handling public relations crises, and dispensing company information to the public or media. Common careers include:

Public Relations Specialist

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $60,400

Public relations specialists help organizations develop positive relationships with the general public or their targeted clients or constituents. Often, public relations specialists organize media functions, such as press conferences, community events, political campaigns, and conflict mediation programs. They play a key role in helping companies maintain a positive image when conflicts arise between organizations and the public, and in helping getting the word out about an organization’s products, services, or activities.

A bachelor’s degree is typical for such positions, with relevant majors including public relations, journalism, or communications, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The above job outlook and salary average were gathered from the BLS.

Writer or author

  • Expected Growth: 6%
  • Average Annual Salary: $68,060

Writers work for online or print publications either as salaried or freelance writers, while authors write fiction and non-fiction books. These writing professionals may specialize in writing advertising or marketing copy, or scripts or biographies. Copywriters, playwrights, and songwriters also fall under this category.

While a bachelor’s degree isn’t always required for such occupations, a bachelor’s degree in an area like communication, English, or journalism may be required or preferred for salaried writing positions, the BLS explained. The employment growth projection and salary figure provided above were drawn from the BLS.

Editor

  • Expected Growth: 1%
  • Average Annual Salary: $60,490

Experienced writers and journalists may advance to positions as editors, who direct the work of teams of writers, make sure written content is fit for publication, and plan content for various print and online publications. Job titles in editing include copy editors, publication assistants, executive editors, assistant editors, and managing editors, and each has different roles in making sure the final written product or publication is top quality for the general public or its intended audience.

A bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, or English is appropriate for such a position, and many editors qualify for their roles through past work as writers or journalists, the BLS explains. The above job outlook and salary figure were provided by the BLS.

Technical Writer

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $67,280

Technical writers take complex information and industry jargon and break it down to an understandable language that the layperson can understand. They are best known for writing operating instructions, how-to manuals, and assembly instructions for the public, but they also help in internal communication on teams where scientists, engineers, and computer and software professionals must work together.

While a bachelor’s degree in an area like communications, journalism, or English is preferred for positions in the field, some positions may also require specialized knowledge in areas like medicine, engineering, or computer science, the BLS explains. The job outlook and salary average provided above were taken from the BLS.

Journalist

  • Expected Growth: -6%
  • Average Annual Salary: $43,640 (for reporters and correspondents) / $76,370 (for broadcast news analysts)

Journalists, which may go by the titles of reporters, correspondents, or broadcast news analysts, are responsible for communicating current events and relevant news to the public, investigating the facts of news stories, interviewing people involved in news stories, and providing news analysis. They may work in TV, radio, print media, or online media. Some report news tailored for local radio stations, TV news, or community newspapers, while others write or report news on a national or international level.

A degree in journalism or communication is preferred, but an internship from a college newspaper can help students land entry-level jobs, the BLS noted. The above job growth projection and salary average were provided by the BLS.

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