Communication Careers

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If you want to work in broadcasting, journalism, public relations, human resources, or education, a communication degree can help you launch a successful career. As a communication professional, you shape the way people share, receive, and process information — an invaluable role that will always be in demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that roughly 27,400 new positions will open up in the field between 2014 and 2024.

In a strong communication program, you can hone your public speaking skills, master the art of persuasive writing, and develop your critical thinking faculties. If you find this skillset attractive, read on. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive resource that will help you decide whether a career in communication is the right choice for you and, if so, how to get there.


Graduates with a communication degree fare the best in New York state, according to a new survey measuring job favorability in the field. New York earned a score of 98.2, and also had the second highest annual salary behind the District of Columbia. Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Maryland were the next four states. States with the lowest favorability scores for communication jobs were West Virginia (8.4), Minnesota (10.6), Arkansas (14.3), Louisiana (17.9), and Wyoming (23.1). Explore the interactive map provided here to find detailed information on salaries and favorability ratings for communication careers nationwide.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Communication Salary Report: Annual Averages by State
Alabama $56,927
Alaska $58,848
Arizona $57,882
Arkansas $49,326
California $71,734
Colorado $65,453
Connecticut $68,047
Delaware $69,358
District of Columbia $83,772
Florida $60,297
Georgia $60,166
Hawaii $55,774
Idaho $49,463
Illinois $60,406
Indiana $52,376
Iowa $49,434
Kansas $50,468
Kentucky $51,272
Louisiana $51,514
Louisiana $50,391
Maryland $70,709
Massachusetts $74,904
Michigan $60,272
Minnesota $63,074
Minnesota $43,251
Missouri $59,814
Montana $46,644
Nebraska $52,090
Nevada $56,321
New Hampshire $58,656
New Jersey $74,466
New Mexico $52,936
New York $81,200
North Carolina $63,572
North Dakota $48,538
Ohio $54,557
Oklahoma $47,946
Oregon $57,713
Pennsylvania $62,557
Rhode Island $61,209
South Carolina $54,212
South Dakota $42,559
Tennessee $51,591
Texas $61,861
Utah $54,779
Vermont $55,028
Virginia $74,040
Washington $66,548
West Virginia $45,537
Wisconsin $54,191
Wyoming $42,351

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

A 2015 Georgetown University study ranked communication and mass media as the nation’s sixth most popular field of academic study, with 352 majors per 10,000 college students.

Data from the National Center of Education Statistics notes that 87,604 undergraduates earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, and related fields during the 2013-14 academic year, while 4,987 graduated with bachelor’s degrees in communication technologies. Additionally, 9,928 master’s students and 614 doctoral students earned communication-related degrees during the same year.



A communication degree typically incorporates a mix of technology, humanities, and the arts. As a communication major, you will gain a thorough understanding of the role that media and marketing play in modern society. You will also learn to engage an audience–through both speaking and writing–and delve into qualitative and quantitative research. Last but not least, you will develop “hard skills” that are highly valued by employers, including web design, Photoshop, and statistical analysis.

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Specializations in Communication

When completing a communication degree program, your coursework will typically cover areas like technology, journalism, media arts, anthropology, psychology, statistics, economics, and political science. Although general communication degrees are widely available, many programs allow you to earn a specialization by focusing on a niche in the field.

Digital Media

This specialization discusses the various technical and artistic aspects of radio, film, television, and web-based media. These programs typically take a comprehensive approach by tackling the different stages of a digital media project: development, design, production, marketing, broadcasting, monitoring, and evaluation. The curriculum often includes courses in audio and video production, interactive media, graphic design, animation, and writing.

Intercultural Communication

This specialization examines media and communication through an anthropological lens. Courses focus on cultural factors that impact the way humans interact, such as age, education, race, religion, and gender. You will also learn about various technologies and platforms–both traditional and new media–used to facilitate communication between different groups.

Interpersonal Communication

This area of communication emphasizes the importance of individual development. You will explore the nature of relationships between different groups in both social and professional settings, along with strategies for improving these dynamics through clear communication and positive interaction. The curriculum usually includes courses in public speaking, public relations, communication theory, and research methods.

Strategic Communication

If you plan on pursuing a career in advertising, marketing, public relations, or corporate management, you may choose to specialize in strategic communication. The curriculum concentrates on the relationship between organizational communication and the globalized market. You will learn how to apply theories and best practices to real-world problems in order to develop effective communication strategies.

Alternate Degree Paths to a Job in Communication

As a communication student, you can choose from several majors. The following areas of study are some of the most common pathways for students who go on to work in media or communication. Please note that many colleges and universities allow students to earn specialized degrees in these fields.

Creative Writing

Creative writing programs concentrate on compositional aspects of prose, poetry, drama, screenwriting, and other literary styles. Other areas of focus include publishing, marketing, and literary theory. Graduates work as writers, editors, publishers, and literary agents.


English degrees typically combine literature, linguistics, history, and cultural studies. Many programs allow you to earn concentrations in areas like creative writing, comparative literature, and English education. Many English majors eventually find teaching jobs; others find work in a variety of fields.


Journalism programs focus on strategies for delivering information to the public using traditional, mass, and digital media. Many journalism students are required to spend time writing for a school publication, such as a newspaper or magazine. Graduates often work as reporters, editors, copywriters, and grant writers.


Marketing programs cover strategies for delivering advertising campaigns using different media platforms. Courses focus on advertising, branding, consumer science, and statistical analysis. Common jobs for communication majors who specialize in marketing include product managers, brand managers, and media coordinators.

Media Studies

Media studies programs examine the history and cultural impact of different types of traditional and new media. Legal and ethical issues are also covered, along with strategies for communicating on a global scale. Graduates often pursue employment in broadcasting, telecommunication, or public relations.

Public Relations

Public relations programs focus on effective strategies for representing and promoting individuals and organizations. Students learn how to engage potential clients, write press releases, and deliver media campaigns across different communication platforms. Many graduates go on to become public relations specialists who work with individual clients, or public relations managers who oversee PR teams.

Distance Learning Opportunities

If you want to earn a communication degree but cannot physically attend classes due to full-time employment, childcare obligations, or other pressing commitments, online education is a convenient, cost-effective alternative. This option is also ideal for working professionals planning to make a career change.

Distance courses allow you to access course materials, submit assignments, and take exams from home with user-friendly online learning platforms. Some web-based programs follow a traditional semester or quarter timeline, while others are taught asynchronously, allowing you to complete courses on your own schedule. Many online schools give you the option to take part in hybrid (or blended) option that features a combination of classroom and web-based courses.

You can pursue an online degree in communication at any educational level. Beginning students can pursue a two-year associate degree, which primarily feature introductory courses. Four-year bachelor’s degrees include the entry-level coursework of an associate degree, along with two years of major-specific classes. Many bachelor’s degree-holders continue their education in a two-year master’s program, which builds upon foundational knowledge in the discipline while incorporating communication theory and analysis. Finally, online doctorate and PhD programs in communication are grounded in academic research and prepare you for roles in academia. These degrees generally require a three-year commitment, which includes a lengthy final paper known as a dissertation.

Some careers in communication--such as journalism and advertising--represent an intersection between the technical and the artistic.

A communication degree opens the door to dozens of exciting positions. Some pursue technical careers in broadcasting, audio and video production, sound engineering, and interactive media. Others follow an artistic path in fields like photography, graphic design, and animation. Some careers in communication–such as journalism and advertising–represent an intersection between the technical and the artistic.

Communication Careers

Take a look at the following to browse the most common occupational options for communication degree-holders, along with the expected salary, academic requirements, projected industry growth, and the number of current employees.

Advertising, Promoting and Marketing Managers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $124,850
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 9%
  • Number of People Employed: 225,200

These professionals work on behalf of clients to develop, produce, and release promotional campaigns for the general public using different media platforms. They research products, then weigh their findings against current trends and market studies in order to generate widespread consumer interest.

Mental Health Counselors
  • Mean Annual Salary: $43,190
  • Degree/Certification Required: Master’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 20%
  • Number of People Employed: 32,070

Mental health counselors provide individuals and families support for mental and emotional disorders, addiction, career advice, and support during life changes. Mental health counselors help clients deal with a vast array of emotions, while marriage and family therapists treat the individual and family relationships.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $56,010
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): -5%
  • Number of People Employed: 117,200

Editors analyze books, media publications, web content, and other written works to ensure proper grammar, spelling, and accuracy. Some editors work on a freelance basis with individual clients; others are employed by publishing houses, newspapers, and other organizations as part of an editorial staff.

Event Planners
  • Mean Annual Salary: $46,084
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 10%
  • Number of People Employed: 100,000

Event planners work with clients to organize large-scale gatherings, such as weddings and anniversary parties, along with professional functions like conferences, seminars, and company retreats. They also coordinate with members of the service industry to prepare venues, transportation, guest accommodations, catering, and other important event details.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $52,970
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 9%
  • Number of People Employed: 73,400

Fundraisers work on behalf of clients to organize campaigns that generate financial support for companies, organizations, and social causes. They research current trends to identify potential donors, promote campaigns using different media platforms, and collaborate with event planners to coordinate fundraising events.

Interpreter and Translators
  • Mean Annual Salary: $44,190
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 29%
  • Number of People Employed: 61,000

Interpreters and translators assist clients by converting spoken or written messages into a different language. Many of these professionals also specialize in sign language. They must be fluent in at least two languages and able to communicate clearly and effectively with different audiences.

Public Relations Specialists
  • Mean Annual Salary: $56,770
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 6%
  • Number of People Employed: 240,700

Public relations specialists work to promote special projects, events, and causes, while developing a positive image for their clients. They compose press releases, deliver information to the media, and generate public interest in a product, service, or idea using different traditional, digital, and social media platforms.

Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts
  • Mean Annual Salary: $37,720
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): -9%
  • Number of People Employed: 54,400

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts deliver news and current events to audiences through print media, radio, television, the internet, and other platforms.

Technical Writers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $70,240
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 10%
  • Number of People Employed: 52,000

Technical writers compose company manuals, product copy, journals, press releases, and other materials designed to explain complex information to consumers. They may also conduct and record product research using graphs, diagrams, market surveys, and customer feedback.

Writers and Authors
  • Mean Annual Salary: $60,250
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 2%
  • Number of People Employed: 136,500

Writers and authors compose fiction or nonfiction works for publication as novels, literary articles, scripts, screenplays, or online posts. Some work on a freelance basis by reaching out to individual publishers, while others are employed as part of an in-house writing team.

Riah Lawry Associate, VALEO PR

Everyone has a story to tell. My main goal as a communication professional ... is helping my clients tell their stories at the right time to the right people in the right place.

I studied journalism and media communication with a minor in public relations at Asbury University, a small school in Kentucky with an incredible Olympics internship program. My first job out of college was at a tech and marketing company in Charlotte as a corporate communication specialist. It was fast-paced and way over my head. I loved it; this was clearly the right field for me. After a year and a half there, I moved to Atlanta and worked at a chemicals manufacturing company, also in corporate communication. Frustrated with the politics and slower nature of large companies, I decided to take a risk and move into the agency side of communication. Earlier this year, I joined VALEO, a startup in Atlanta with three employees and a huge passion for embedded communication, as an associate. It’s been my best decision yet.

What do you find most fulfilling about a career in communication?

Everyone has a story to tell. My main goal as a communication professional (and the reason I work long hours and drink way too much tea and coffee) is helping my clients tell their stories at the right time to the right people in the right place. I get to wear many different hats during the process of telling these stories, from social media expert to investigative journalist. At the end of the day, I am helping someone share what’s important to them. That’s what gets me excited. I’m crazy about unearthing and sharing a good story.

What types of people excel in this field?

I wouldn’t consider myself the “stereotypical” PR person. My idea of a good day is wearing jeans, reading super long articles about current events, and planning weekend hiking trips. If you have good people skills, are passionate about writing, and can multi-task, you’re going to do great. Focus on creating an online image via LinkedIn, a blog, and a portfolio. Network like crazy. Write every day. And learn how to interview well for jobs. It makes all the difference.

What was the job search process like after earning your degree?

There’s lots of competition for communication jobs. That’s why networking is paramount. Just do it. My first job was a result of keeping up connections with a company where I’d interned my junior year in college. I reached out to a mentor I’d met with during my internship, and she created a job for me in corporate communication. That I know of, I was the only one who interviewed for the job; and I got it. My other two jobs came from emailing the recruiter or hiring manager directly with examples of my work and a pitch for why I’d be an excellent fit for the company. They were personalized, persuasive emails.

What challenges do you face at work on any given day?

It’s hard for me at times to keep up with so many moving pieces and projects at different stages. I’ve had to learn to be more organized and better at project management. That’s something I’ll keep learning as I become more advanced in my career. I’m still a newbie by some standards (I have four years of experience).

What additional advice would you give to a student considering a career in communication?

Most communication jobs are not glamorous. But it is so much fun. I love my job. I love interacting with so many people and learning about companies and industries I didn’t even know existed before. If you’re passionate about public relations or storytelling of any sort, you’re going to do great. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the first job you apply for. Keep applying and keep reaching out to your network. Eventually, something will appear. It’s going to be a crazy ride. Have fun!

Communication Job Sites

  • National Communication Association: The NCA’s “Find a Job” tool lets users browse jobs for communication majors, post a resume, and receive new job alerts via email.
  • This site features an extensive listing of communication jobs across the country, along with college program information and resume services.
  • International Association of Business Communicators: The IABC Job Centre’s job listing encompasses all U.S. states and territories, along with Canadian provinces. Employers can post job openings as well, and resume management services are also available.
  • This site features a national aggregator for job openings in public relations, social media, and other communication-related fields.
  • Talent Zoo: This site’s job aggregator features positions in graphic design, digital media, advertising, and other communication jobs in creative areas of the field.

Continuing Education in Communication

  • Ed2go: This database hosts an extensive collection of online courses and webinars in subjects like design and composition, language and arts, and writing and publishing.
  • The Professional Association for Graphic Design (AIGA): The AIGA’s professional development website features links to design-related MOOCs, online tutorials and web seminars, along with upcoming conferences and other events.
  • Professional Photographers of America: The PPA’s professional development page provides information about certificates, merit and degree programs, and photography competitions around the world.
  • Society of Professional Journalists: SPJ’s eCampus features links to the association’s journalism training program, along with blog posts and articles concerning media-related topics. Members gain access to journalism-related MOOCs like Digital Media Toolbox.
  • The Direct Marketing Association: The DMA’s Education & Learning branch offers online courses in topics like direct marketing, digital marketing, copywriting, and data marketing analytics.

Professional Organizations for Communication Careers

  • Public Relations Society of America: The PRSA is a professional organization geared toward PR professionals with more than 22,000 members nationwide; members pay a one-time $65 initiation fee and $225 in annual dues. The site features continuing ed and professional development opportunities, a virtual library, and networking tools.
  • The Professional Association for Graphic Design: One of the country’s largest media-related professional organizations, the AIGA hosts 70 U.S. chapters serving more than 25,000 members. Annual membership begins at $150; students and recent graduates may join the AIGA for $50 per year. Members gain access to job listings, continuing ed opportunities, and discounts for design events and competitions. The online portfolio sharing function allows members to share work with one another.
  • Society of Professional Journalists: Founded in 1909, the SPJ is the nation’s largest professional organization for journalists. The website features information about SPJ Communities across the country dedicated to niche areas of journalism like freelance writing, digital media, and international journalism. The society hosts the annual Excellence in Journalism convention in a different U.S. city each year.
  • The Direct Marketing Association: The DMA is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to the field of data-driven marketing. Members gain access to networking tools and continuing education opportunities The association also sponsors the Data-Driven Marketing Institute, an advocacy group that works with policymakers, consumer advocates, and members of the press.
  • International Digital Media and Arts Association: Founded in 2004 by a consortium of 15 colleges and universities, iDMaA strives to create academic programs and opportunities for postsecondary students. Annual membership is $35 for students and $125 for professionals; for-profit and nonprofit organizations are welcome to seek membership, as well.