In today’s highly connected world, communication skills are more vital than ever. This has led many students to wonder if a communications degree is a worthwhile investment for their career and future.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: A communications degree can be worth it for students interested in public relations, journalism, marketing, and other media or messaging-focused careers. However, to maximize career success, relevant internships and portfolio building are key.
In this comprehensive guide, we analyze the pros, cons, career paths, and earning potential for communications majors. You’ll learn what jobs are available, whether the degree pays off financially, and how to strengthen your resume while studying communications.
Overview of Communications Degrees and Career Tracks
A communications degree is a popular choice for students who are interested in the field of media, marketing, public relations, or journalism. This degree provides a comprehensive understanding of how information is transmitted and received, and how to effectively communicate in various contexts.
While it may not guarantee a specific job, a communications degree can open up a wide range of career opportunities in both the corporate and non-profit sectors.
Typical Courses and Major Focus Areas
Communications degree programs usually offer a variety of courses that cover different aspects of the field. Some common courses include:
- Media and Society
- Public Speaking
- Interpersonal Communication
- Mass Communication
- Advertising and Public Relations
- Digital Media
These courses provide students with a solid foundation in communication theories, research methods, and practical skills necessary for a successful career in the field.
Common Communications-Related Careers
With a degree in communications, graduates can pursue a variety of career paths. Some common communications-related careers include:
- Public Relations Specialist: responsible for managing the public image of individuals or organizations.
- Marketing Manager: oversees marketing campaigns and strategies to promote products or services.
- Journalist: gathers and reports news stories for various media outlets.
- Media Planner: develops media plans and strategies for advertising campaigns.
- Social Media Manager: manages social media accounts and creates engaging content.
These are just a few examples of the many career paths available to communications graduates. The versatility of this degree allows individuals to explore different industries and find roles that align with their interests and strengths.
Skills You Gain with This Degree
A communications degree equips students with a wide range of valuable skills that are highly sought after in today’s job market. Some of these skills include:
- Effective written and oral communication
- Strong interpersonal and networking abilities
- Research and analytical skills
- Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
- Understanding of media and digital technologies
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
These skills are applicable in various industries and can be transferable to different roles. Employers often value individuals with strong communication skills as they are essential for building relationships, managing teams, and conveying information effectively.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
This indicates that there are a significant number of job opportunities available for communications graduates.
The Pros of Earning a Communications Degree
Prepares You for a Variety of Growing Fields
A communications degree offers a wide range of career opportunities in today’s rapidly evolving digital world. With the increasing importance of effective communication in various industries, such as marketing, public relations, and media, a communications degree can provide you with the necessary skills to excel in these fields.
According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. This indicates a promising job market for individuals with a communications degree.
Allows You to Tailor Your Focus
One of the great advantages of pursuing a communications degree is the flexibility it offers. This degree allows you to specialize and tailor your focus according to your interests and career goals. Whether you are passionate about journalism, advertising, public relations, or digital media, a communications degree provides you with the opportunity to dive deeper into your chosen field and gain specialized knowledge.
This specialization can make you stand out in the job market and increase your chances of landing a job that truly aligns with your passion.
Teaches Transferable Skills
A communications degree equips you with a diverse set of transferable skills that are highly valued in various industries. These skills include excellent written and verbal communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.
These skills are not only beneficial for communication-related roles but are also highly sought after in other professions. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top three skills employers look for in college graduates are communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work in a team.
Therefore, earning a communications degree can provide you with a strong foundation of skills that can be applied to a wide range of careers.
The Cons and Drawbacks to Consider
Very Competitive Job Market
One of the major drawbacks of pursuing a communications degree is the highly competitive job market. With more and more students choosing this field of study, the number of graduates seeking employment in the communications industry has significantly increased.
This means that job opportunities can be limited, and landing a desirable position may require exceptional skills, experience, and networking. It’s important for individuals considering a communications degree to be aware of this competitive landscape and to take proactive steps to stand out from the crowd.
Lower Salaries Compared to STEM
Another factor to consider when contemplating a communications degree is the potential for lower salaries compared to careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). While communications professionals can earn competitive salaries, it is not uncommon for those in STEM-related roles to have higher earning potential.
It’s essential to weigh the financial aspects of choosing a communications career and consider whether the passion for this field outweighs the potential income disparity.
Can Feel Overly Broad or Theoretical
Some individuals may find that a communications degree can feel overly broad or theoretical. The field of communications encompasses various areas, such as public relations, journalism, advertising, and marketing.
While this breadth can provide flexibility, it may also lead to a lack of specialization or a disconnect between theoretical knowledge and practical application. It’s important for students to actively seek internships, practical experiences, and specialized courses to bridge this gap and ensure they are prepared for the specific career path they wish to pursue.
Maximizing Job Prospects and Earnings Potential
When pursuing a communications degree, it is important to consider how to maximize job prospects and earnings potential upon graduation. Here are a few strategies to help achieve this:
Getting Relevant Internship Experience
One of the most effective ways to enhance job prospects in the field of communications is by gaining relevant internship experience. Internships provide valuable hands-on experience and allow students to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting.
Additionally, internships often lead to networking opportunities and potential job offers after graduation. Websites like www.internships.com and www.linkedin.com can be great resources for finding internship opportunities in the field.
Building an Impressive Portfolio
Another important aspect of maximizing job prospects in communications is building an impressive portfolio. A portfolio showcases an individual’s work and demonstrates their skills and abilities to potential employers.
This can include samples of writing, design work, social media campaigns, or any other projects relevant to the communications field. Creating a portfolio website or utilizing platforms like Behance or Dribbble can help professionals in the field showcase their work to a wider audience.
Developing Your Personal Brand
In today’s digital age, developing a strong personal brand is crucial for standing out in the competitive job market. This includes creating a professional online presence through social media, personal websites, and blogging.
By establishing yourself as an expert or thought leader in a specific area of communications, you can attract potential employers and clients. Websites like www.linkedin.com and www.medium.com can be excellent platforms to showcase your expertise and build your personal brand.
By combining relevant internship experience, an impressive portfolio, and a strong personal brand, individuals with a communications degree can significantly increase their job prospects and earnings potential in this field.
Alternatives to a Traditional Communications Degree
For individuals interested in a career that combines strong writing skills with technical expertise, a career in technical writing may be a viable alternative to a traditional communications degree. Technical writers are responsible for creating clear and concise documentation for complex products or processes.
They often work closely with engineers, scientists, and other professionals to translate technical jargon into easily understandable language for a broader audience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for technical writers is expected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Journalism and Media Studies
If you have a passion for storytelling and reporting on current events, pursuing a degree in journalism and media studies could be a suitable alternative to a communications degree. This field focuses on developing skills in researching, writing, editing, and presenting news and information through various media platforms, including print, broadcast, and digital journalism.
With the rise of digital media, there are ample opportunities for aspiring journalists to explore new and innovative ways of delivering news to the public.
Public Relations Certificate
For individuals who are interested in the field of public relations but don’t want to commit to a full communications degree, obtaining a public relations certificate can be a valuable alternative. A public relations certificate program typically provides a focused curriculum that covers key aspects of the field, such as strategic communication, media relations, crisis management, and social media marketing.
This option allows individuals to gain specific skills and knowledge in public relations without the time and financial commitment of a four-year degree.
Another alternative to a traditional communications degree is pursuing a degree in marketing. While marketing and communications are closely related, a marketing degree offers a more comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior, market research, advertising, and branding.
This field provides individuals with the skills necessary to develop and implement effective marketing campaigns, analyze market trends, and create strategies to reach target audiences. The demand for marketing professionals continues to rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 6% growth in employment from 2019 to 2029.
While challenging, a communications degree can be worthwhile if you utilize it correctly. This very broad field allows flexibility across industries while building valuable hard and soft skills. By focusing your studies, taking on internships, and curating an impressive portfolio, you can maximize your job prospects upon graduation.
Weigh the pros and cons carefully for your own goals. A communications degree gives you a strong starting point to pursue a range of rewarding careers in today’s communication-driven world.