If you have a knack with words, whether via public speaking or in writing, and seem to effortlessly be able to explain things to your friends and family (or, at least, you enjoy trying!), a communications major may be right up your alley. Students in this field learn how to most effectively craft and disseminate messages to particular audiences, or to the public at large. And with today’s increasingly digital world, there are even more exciting, creative ways to do so than ever before.
What do communications majors study?
The general-education courses you’ll be required to take at most colleges will help round out your knowledge of different facets of the world at large, which can only enhance whatever field you choose to enter with your comm degree. But in terms of specific communications-themed courses, expect to cover the gamut: Your workload will include everything from communication theory and mass communications to specific niches such as interpersonal communications, corporate communications, public relations, newswriting, and digital media, which is increasingly dominating today’s media landscape.
So where can you expect a communications major to lead you?
Grad school offers customized development.
Going for a master’s or doctoral in communications (or in specialized sub-genres such as public relations or journalism, for example) can offer students a competitive edge on the hiring field when they receive their final diploma. Further coursework will also immerse you even more into research, presentations, and learning to write for a range of different audiences—all critical for successful communications careers.
There are jobs available in a variety of stimulating fields.
It’s true that many people think of careers in the media when they think of where they can apply their communications major. Editors, writers, and reporters (print, online, or broadcast), radio and TV announcers, and producers are all media-linked jobs that can be facilitated once you’ve got that communications degree in hand.
But there are other areas you can also get into with a comm degree, including:
- Marketing/advertising/PR: Similar to journalism and media opportunities, these types of jobs tend to offer jobs heavy on writing and oral skills—think PR specialist or market research analyst—but this time for companies or organizations looking to bring awareness to and publicize their brands, products, and services. Sales and interpersonal skills can also come into play for such roles as account executive, media buyer, and ad sales representatives.
- Business: If you think you’d excel in a corporate environment, companies are always looking for consultants, communications managers, B2B sales staff, HR managers, and event planners to help them boost their bottom line. Spend most of your time online? Social media has become an integral part of many companies’ overall strategy, meaning you’d be able to put your communications skills to work while also wielding your Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat skills.
- Politics and government: Think you’ve got the mettle to handle the media as a government official’s press secretary? Or to work behind the scenes as a lobbyist, speechwriter, or campaign director? Merging your communications skills with a keen understanding of messaging and informing the public can offer a rewarding career in this niche.
- Foreign relations: If international affairs intrigues you, you may be able to parlay your communications degree into a satisfying stint as a translator, interpreter, or executive assistant to an envoy. You’ll likely need to be fluent in at least one other language other than English for these type of jobs, so make sure you’ve got a foreign language on your resume as well.
This degree can help you excel in jobs that may not be considered traditional paths for comm majors.
Thinking of heading onto law school after your undergrad degree? Or perhaps getting up in front of a classroom every day as a teacher or college professor? These types of jobs may not instantly come to mind when you think “communications,” but they require organizational skills and an ability to communicate to convey important information to an audience—all of which you’ll hone in your undergrad coursework as a communications major.
Pay and job prospects are respectable.
The median annual wage for media and communications jobs in 2016 was almost $55,000, which is more than the $37,000 median across all occupations. And some specialized jobs exceed that middle ground: Technical writers, for example, can make a median salary of close to $70,000, while PR and promotions managers can exceed a six-figure salary, with a job growth rate as fast as, or faster than, the average expected through 2026.