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Communications Degree Salary Guide

Every organization has a story to share. To tell the right story to the right audience, however, leadership leans on communications professionals. These professionals are masters of their craft, honing written or spoken words to both suit their companies’ needs and appeal to their audiences. Whether creating a press release, a speech, or an advertising campaign, communications professionals specialize in turning words into marketable assets.

Marketing, advertising, public relations, and media are only a few of the industries that rely on the skills of communications graduates. Working in the communications sector isn’t just about filling space with words — it’s about developing communication strategies and using the right tone and terminology to reach specific audiences and accomplish particular goals. With the rise of social media and the decline of traditional news media, it’s more important than ever before that strategists, writers, marketers, and publishers ensure information is relevant, accurate, and up-to-date.

Female student writing notes on a notepad while smiling

Communications specialists are a vital link between companies and communities, and the demand for their services is rapidly growing. For those looking to obtain information about the communications sector, job opportunities, and estimated salaries, this brief communications degree salary guide is a good place to start.

Marketing Specialist

A marketing specialist can work in nearly any industry that sells a product or service, making this a versatile career choice. A large part of a marketing specialist’s role is to develop strategies to successfully advertise a company’s product. These professionals interpret current and previous sales data to refine approaches and reach target audiences in order to improve a company’s return on investment.

A marketing specialist also provides input and guidance on which communication channels and assets are needed for a marketing strategy and the verbiage, tone, and appearance each asset should have. These elements, which are usually the product of creative team efforts, can include online advertisements, TV commercials, printed brochures, and billboards. Working alongside a brand manager, a marketing specialist aligns the content materials with the company’s goals and brand message. The end result is a strong brand that should flawlessly connects the company’s services or products with the target audience’s needs.

Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a marketing specialist is $71,450. Salaries can fluctuate depending on the job location; Texas ($79,480), California ($80,020), Delaware ($80,470), Washington ($82,190), and New Jersey ($84,970) pay the most for marketing specialists.

Editor

Editors play a particularly vital role in content creation. They work with writers to develop ideas or stories for blogs, advertisements, or even novels. After a writer submits a draft — but before publication — an editor reviews the piece’s content and structure. Depending on the company, internal procedures, and even the type of document being edited, the editor might return a document to an author for further work, send it to a copy editor, or assign it to a fact-checker.

The editor position has changed in recent years with the boom of internet publishing and advertising. According to BLS, this has resulted in a decline in traditional newspaper and magazine editor roles. In an interview with the International Federation of Periodical Publishers (FIPP), editors noted that while editing great content for readers is still an important part of their responsibilities, they also now have to be concerned with marketing research and promotional strategies, such as how to increase readership by tailoring content for social media users.

Because editing jobs now require more dynamic skills, employers may require a bachelor’s degree. Salaries vary by location and employer, but the median salary for an editor is $58,770 per year, with the highest 10 percent earning up to $114,460, according to BLS.

Copywriter

Before an editor can review a piece of content, someone needs to create it. Copywriters may work in office settings or on a freelance basis. They are responsible for creating the text for a variety of businesses, including online publishers, marketing companies, and advertising services. Projects can be as small as short sentences or slogans that work with images and scripts used in commercials or radio ads, or as extensive as content for a company’s entire website.

Working closely with clients, copywriters create content to grab an audience’s attention. In the fast-moving digital landscape, creativity, resourcefulness, and excellent writing skills are all important for reaching targeted markets.

Employers may prefer that a copywriter have a bachelor’s degree. Additional certifications, such as the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Foundation Certificate, may also be necessary, depending on company and sector. BLS reports that the average salary for a writer is $61,820 per year. As writers gain experience and success, however, their pay may also increase. The expected job outlook for writers and authors is set to increase 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, with as many as 10,000 new jobs waiting for aspiring writers.

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations (PR) specialists are responsible for creating or maintaining a favorable public image for an organization, both during and outside of crises. It’s important work, because the internet’s ever-growing speed, reach, and marketing power mean that information shared online has the ability to go viral — for all the right or wrong reasons. PR specialists must be able to respond to crises quickly and correctly. The job responsibilities include creating press releases, social media campaigns, news stories, and interviews to help shape the public’s perception of a company.

As part of his or her role, a PR specialist may also create speeches for executives and company spokespeople to keep messages clear, concise, and on-brand. These speeches, with their bolstered messages, are key in helping executives or spokespeople to communicate effectively with the media.

Employers are likely to require a PR specialist to have a bachelor’s degree. BLS has listed a median annual salary of $59,300 for PR specialists, although the highest 10 percent earned up to $112,000. With social media rapidly changing perceptions of companies, the expected job outlook for PR specialists is an estimated 9 percent increase between 2016 and 2026, equal to an additional 22,900 jobs.

Digital Content Producer

Professionals interested in communications degree salaries will find the digital content producer position an exciting and fast-paced role. Digital content producers are responsible for creating and organizing digital media for client projects, such as videos, online advertisements, blogs, and web pages. They oversee the entire production of the digital content, including approving the budget, setting the creative direction, and launching the content on the appropriate communication channels.

Digital content producers are responsible for the entire production of a digital project, which includes continually optimizing the content following its launch. Producers must therefore have a strong understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, and digital advertising platforms to ensure the piece of content continues to meet their client’s expectations.

Digital content producers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in communication which helps develop the skills needed to be a successful producer such as managing multiple deadlines, understanding competitor trends, and integrating new technologies. The median annual salary of a digital content producer is $59,799, according to PayScale; however, this can vary based on the producer’s years of experience, level of education, specific industry, and track record. A successful producer in the top quarter percentile can earn upwards of $73,000 per year.

Learn More

Digital media and marketing is changing rapidly as companies look for qualified communications professionals to create an engaging and unique experience with customers. An internship at a digital marketing agency or in a communications department can be essential to secure an entry-level job, as internships allow students to practice the theories and skills learned in the classroom. Students enrolled in the Maryville University Bachelor of Arts in Communication program are required to complete these kinds of internships, which provide needed launching points and the foundation for success. In addition to completing this internship, students also have the chance to work on real client projects as part of their coursework building the necessary knowledge needed to lead projects later in their career.

Opportunities to pursue careers in marketing, public relations, editing, copywriting, and producing are growing at rapid rates. For those looking to join this dynamic range of industries, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication helps build a strong and strategic career foundation.

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Editors

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marketing Specialists

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Producers and Directors

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations Specialists

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Writers and Authors

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising

International Federation of Periodical Publishers

Maryville University, Online Bachelor of Arts in Communication

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Communication Curriculum

Maryville University, Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership

PayScale, Executive Producers

PayScale, Digital Content Producers