Public relations has evolved from its traditional role into one of the most dynamic sectors in today’s ever-changing world. It offers opportunities to work on complex issues, engage audiences in meaningful conversations, and create innovative campaigns. As a profession deeply rooted in connecting organizations and individuals with external stakeholders, it can also provide an enriching experience for those passionate about creating effective change.
In the 2018-2019 school year, public relations ranked as the 53rd most popular degree in the United States. Schools reported granting 19,456 degrees in the said year alone. Compared to the previous year, there was a 642 difference or a 3.3% increase. About 375 schools offer a PR degree of some kind (College Factual, n.d.).
At first glance, a public relations degree may seem to have limited options. But that is not the case at all, as it opens up opportunities in a wide array of industries. This discipline takes different forms of media to create an appealing image for a personality or a brand. It is also the bridge between two businesses, with the PR professionals being the mediators of good relationships. In the same way, many PR degree programs are mainly focused on a well-selected combination of courses from other communication specialties (Accredited Schools Online, 2021).
Without question, opportunities for PR degree holders are countless. The government, business, education, and health care sectors will open their doors for you should they see you exhibit passion and eloquence (College Choice, 2021). If the PR field interests you, understanding its career paths, options, and industry salaries would be of great help to your decision-making.
A public relations career appeals to eager individuals who seek to get challenged, receive unique rewards, and grab exciting opportunities in the industry (The Graduate School of Political Management-The George Washington University, 2020). Successful PR professionals are unprejudiced, good-natured, detail-oriented, and work well even under pressure.
Working in PR always involves delivering a certain message and image to the media and people. Suffice it to say, PR professionals must manifest persuasiveness and a deep grasp of rhetoric as it deals with spoken and written language (Best Colleges, 2020).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects high demand for PR professionals from 2019 to 2029. Specifically, the BLS expects a 7% increase in the demand for PR specialists within the period (BLS, 2021).
With more experience, PR professionals typically have above-industry income. The average public relations salary rates at different career stages are shown in the table below.
|Job Title||Entry-Level (0-12 months)||Early Career (1-4 years)||Midcareer (5-9 years)||Experienced (10-19 years)|
|Public Relations Specialist||$45,000||$51,000||$60,000||$66,000|
|Public Relations Coordinator||$40,000||$43,000||$50,000||$55,000|
|Public Relations Manager||$49,000||$62,000||$78,000||$84,000|
|Public Relations Director||N/A||$57,000||$91,000||$109,000|
Organizations employ public relations professionals to fill gaps in communication and understanding between the internal and external communities. In some cases, effective PR skills handle bad publicity or crises (Doyle, 2019).
In the 2020 NIH-PMC article “The skills required for entry-level public relations: An analysis of skills required in 1,000 PR job ads,” Shana Meganck et al. revealed the most frequently listed skills in entry-level PR job posts. The authors noted the significance of long-established skills such as writing in tandem with modern skills such as digital and social media. In addition, they also pressed the need for soft skills such as organizational skills. Among the surveyed hiring authorities, “78.2 % mentioned communication skills, with the majority of those (88.9 %), specifying written communication skills. Specific educational requirements were mentioned in 64.5 % of the job listings; organizational skills were mentioned in 61.8 %; 43.9 % requested administrative software skills such as Microsoft Office and Google Drive; 35.3 % mentioned social/digital media skills; and 24.5 % listed graphic design skills (e.g., Adobe Creative Suite).”
A degree will absolutely become an advantage to your public relations career path as this is what many employers look for first. To get through entry-level PR positions, you are required to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree (Best Colleges, 2020).
Administrative assistants carry out clerical and organizational tasks across industries. They handle filing systems and databases, arrange documents and reports, and compile reports and invoices. They may also be tasked to book appointments and organize staff meetings. Those who want to focus on this or upskill themselves can get an online degree to become an administrative assistant.
Median salary: $39,446
Paralegals organize and document legal files, perform legal research, and create documents to assist lawyers. They analyze laws and policies, collect evidence and legal files for attorney examination, and sum up reports to aid lawyers before or during trial. A certificate in paralegal studies is a requirement to qualify for this position.
Median salary: $50,969
PR specialists write press releases, communicate with the media regarding information requests, and help their clients communicate with people. They also study marketing and advertising projects to guarantee that they satisfy the goals and strategy of their clients.
Median salary: $51,000
Market research analysts explore market situations to guide companies in identifying what services and products to offer to consumers. They track and predict trends in marketing, evaluate the efficiency of marketing strategies, and gather relevant data. They also draft reports to help clients and management make the right decisions.
Median salary: $60,659
People also ask if it would be possible to get a public relations job with just a certificate. In most circumstances, certifications are enough to land you a job. But not all certifications are created equal. In PR, certification can only improve your chances of employment as related jobs now require certain skills. Furthermore, employers will basically look for credentials indicating formal training in specialized areas. The best that PR certificates can do is to provide you with the necessary training and skills, demonstrate your competency and professionalism, and set you apart from other applicants (Keith, n.d.).
Source: Transparent Career
Additional training or a graduate-level degree program is suggested if you wish to take on public relations leadership roles. A doctoral degree is also a great option if you plan to further advance your career development plan. Earning certifications will exhibit your expertise and commitment to the profession, too. (Best Colleges, 2020).
PR managers devise a media strategy, research trends, and propose ways to improve public image and personal or brand identity. These responsibilities promote their individual and business clients. These PR experts may also manage a team of PR specialists and administer internal communications.
Median salary: $78,000
PR directors maintain and protect the reputation of their clients by presenting news releases, media kits, and PR strategies. They can fit in many industries, such as business, education, and health care.
Media salary: $91,000
PR professors teach in colleges and universities. Many of them also carry out research.
Median salary: $89,528
Nonprofit executive directors take on chief executive officer roles for nonprofits. They work on achieving the mission of their organizations by overseeing day-to-day functions and teaming up with the board of directors. They also oversee the overall development and management systems within their organizations, run outreach programs, and give financial advice.
Median salary: $70,417
To date, no public relations careers mandate the need for licenses. However, many leading professional organizations establish certification programs that can provide PR professionals with formal credentials.
The Global Communication Certification Council, for instance, has two sophisticated certification programs: the Communication Management Professional (CMP®) appointment for generalist professionals and the Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP®) credential for specialist practitioners (Best Colleges, 2020).
Source: College Factual
The marketing, business management and administration, and communications fields are all potential routes to a public relations career, even without a PR degree. Nevertheless, the chances of PR success are always high with a PR-specific education.
With exemplary communication skills, a job in sales is also a right fit for a PR professional. This field is always in need of salespeople. It will not be also taken over by robots and machines when it comes to performing tasks (Bragg, 2016).
You can earn any degree that you want and still be eligible for law school. With impeccable reading, writing, and communication skills, becoming a lawyer should not be that hard.
What about taking the path of show business instead? Did you know that both Halle Berry and Brad Pitt took a journalism degree in college? If you have long dreamed to enter Hollywood, the doors are always open.
U.S. News & World Report ranks public relations specialists as the third Best Creative and Media Jobs. It ranks jobs based on their ability to provide an elusive blend of elements.
The pay and demand are both excellent in PR. Compared to other communication fields, PR will always have job openings and be in need of new and fresh talents, especially at the internet age when PR professionals can stand out in the online publicity practice.
Many organizations are striving to establish their online presence and reach as many audiences as they can. Most of your PR skills can also be used in other related fields, which makes it easy for you to transfer from one specialization to another and achieve your career goals.
The possibilities in PR are indeed endless, and you can explore each of them over time (Career Igniter, n.d.).