Today’s digital landscape is crowded with information, creating new challenges and opportunities for those pursuing communications careers. Consumers are constantly bombarded with messaging, news, and targeted advertising, so communicators must deliver smart, strategic messages. But professionals with a bachelor’s degree in communication can apply their skills and knowledge in more than just marketing and media-centric roles; knowing how to clearly, effectively connect with others can lead to exciting careers in many unexpected industries. What can you do with a communications degree? Read on to find out.

Discover the following sections of this guide:

  • Skills Gained with a Communications Degree
  • Advanced Careers You Can Pursue with a Communications Degree
  • Unexpected Industries for Communications Graduates

communication professionals in a meeting

Skills Gained with a Communications Degree

The curriculum of a communications degree is typically designed to help students learn to build strong business relationships and convey information effectively. Communications coursework often includes mass media theory, public speaking, effective writing, digital marketing, data analysis, and branding. These programs can help students learn to speak confidently and effectively, think critically, and create clear, compelling written content. With these skills under their belt, students with a communications degree can do all sorts of different things in the professional world. The top skills students gain in a bachelor’s in communications program include:

Public Speaking

While many people often associate public speaking with speeches or presentations before large groups, speaking with confidence can impact everyday work situations in a variety of careers and industries. The core curriculum of a communications degree emphasizes the benefits of speaking with clarity and confidence, whether the intent is to persuade, inform, instruct, or inspire a group of any size.

Written Communication Skills

Strong written communication skills are essential to connecting with target audiences and communicating value propositions, public relations messaging, and thought leadership. A bachelor’s in communications helps students learn to write in accordance with a specific style, voice, and tone.

Research Analysis

Understanding how to analyze data can be useful in many kinds of careers, but it is particularly valuable in marketing and media capacities, whether in the private, nonprofit, or government sector. A communications program can help students learn to use data to reach increasingly digital audiences.

Professional Confidence

Some communications programs allow students to gain practical experience through internships and opportunities to work on actual client projects. This hands-on experience lets students build a level of professional confidence that takes most people years in the workplace to acquire. Starting their careers with this confidence, which includes the ability to communicate their ideas clearly and with conviction, can give communications graduates an advantage that helps them advance more quickly in their careers.  

Digital Media Proficiency

Understanding the digital landscape is critical to effective communication. Coursework in digital communication can help students learn to develop high-quality web content and attract the attention of influencers through advertising and marketing campaigns.

Advanced Careers You Can Pursue with a Communications Degree

Graduates with a bachelor’s in communications often move into marketing-related roles, including roles in digital marketing (social media), public relations, advertising, and corporate communications. Many graduates also become journalists, writers, editors, or salespeople. But the growth potential with a bachelor’s in communications makes high-level positions within organizations more possible, especially when the professional has related work experience, an advanced degree, or the appropriate certification.

Here are some examples of senior-level positions you can aspire to advance to with a communications degree:

Vice President of Corporate Communications

A VP of corporate communications oversees the marketing communications department of an organization or agency. This VP is typically responsible for developing and executing strategic marketing plans to ensure products and services are marketed in a consistent, targeted manner. In smaller companies, this role may be responsible for writing and editing marketing content, including press releases, research studies, case studies, and ebooks. The VP of corporate communications may serve as the spokesperson for an organization, particularly in a crisis communication role during a negative event. This position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, or a related field, but a master’s in business administration (MBA) and previous experience in a marketing communications role can increase one’s possibilities of advancement. According to Payscale, individuals in this role earn an average salary of $163,846.

Vice President of Public Relations

A VP of public relations (PR) is responsible for creating or maintaining the intended brand image of a product, service, or organization. Effective PR leaders must exhibit interpersonal communication and professional confidence because of the persuasive nature of the role. Whether working to improve the reputation of a company after a negative event or reaching out to media outlets to share information, professionals in this senior-level role know how to tell a compelling story. They typically obtain a communications or business-related degree, and professionals who move from an agency position to a client-side position often possess an MBA.

Fundraising/Development Director

Fundraising directors drive and maximize donations for a nonprofit organization or campaign. They manage a team of employees and volunteers to ensure their organization has identified and contacted potential donors and that the organization meets its financial goals. They also oversee the outbound and inbound marketing efforts of the organization, ensuring both the donor community and the general public receive a clear, consistent message. They often have close contact with C-suite executives to provide fundraising status updates. The median annual wage for public relations and fundraising managers was $111,280 in 2017.

Advertising Director

Generally speaking, an advertising director manages the print, broadcast, and digital advertising production of products and services in an effort to increase sales. This senior-level role requires an acute understanding of demographic data, market trends, and marketing channels to deliver a message. Advertising directors typically manage marketing, research, creative and/or design teams. High-level positions require experience in the field as well as a bachelor’s degree in communications and, in some cases, an MBA. The 2017 median wage for an advertising director was $127,560.

Government Public Affairs Specialist

Government public affairs specialists are the liaison between state, local, and federal governments and the media (and, ultimately, the public). They develop internal and external communications plans around legislative efforts to inform the target audience and create public awareness. At a senior level, they typically manage a communications staff and delegate research and media outreach tasks so the specialists have time to focus on strategy.

Public affairs specialists in government roles typically possess a bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, or journalism. Their average annual salary is $58,614.

Unexpected Industries for Communications Graduates

Though many people most commonly associate communications careers with public relations and marketing roles, there are a variety of opportunities for graduates with a communications degree. The following industries highlight careers you can pursue with a communications degree beyond the mass media and marketing realm.

Government

Governments at local, state, and federal levels employ graduates with a bachelor’s in communications for both internal and external needs. Internally, strong communicators enhance connections across party lines and inspire legislative changes. Externally, they ensure the media and public receive clear, consistent messaging, whether through verbal or written communication. While senior-level roles at the head of various government agencies need effective communication skills, it is also essential for elected officials to excel in communication. Elected officials must be articulate public speakers to educate, inform, and persuade the public. Since there are many different roles available in government, salaries can vary significantly.

Law

While a bachelor’s in communications would be useful in a public relations role for a law firm, the communication skills of lawyers cannot be underestimated. While effective verbal communication can help lawyers build and manage client relationships, clear, concise written communication skills are vital to success in law. From writing contracts that clearly state services, pricing, and expectations to working with court documents, lawyers with strong communication skills can significantly impact the outcome of a case.

After earning a bachelor’s in communication, lawyers must earn a law degree and pass a state bar examination. The median annual wage for lawyers was $119,250 in 2017.

Business

A bachelor’s in communications provides fundamental business courses as part of the core curriculum. Effective communication is vital to success and profitability in nearly every department of business; however, a communications degree is particularly valuable in a sales role. Effective salespeople can make or break a deal because of the way they communicate. They need to clearly articulate the value proposition and pricing of the product or service, but the ability to listen is arguably more important. The first step to closing a deal is developing a strong understanding of the customer’s needs, concerns, and budget, which salespeople accomplish through listening.

A senior-level sales position requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business administration, communications, or a related field, but a master’s in business administration (MBA) is often necessary for positions that manage sales teams. The 2017 median annual wage for high-level sales jobs was $121,060.

Healthcare

Healthcare providers need clear, accurate information to provide the best possible care. The communication dynamic between healthcare practitioners and patients is extremely influential on the way patients and their families process medical information. Healthcare administrators in senior-level roles can use their communication skills to navigate personnel issues and lead others in an ever-changing, unpredictable healthcare landscape.

A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement to become a healthcare administrator, but many advance quickly with a master’s degree and, often, related work experience. The 2017 median annual wage for health managers was $98,350.

Education

Communication is the foundation of education. Translating information in ways that students can comprehend so they can apply that information to their lives in practical ways requires effective communication more than anything else. At high levels, education careers are administrative, requiring fundamental business and communication skills to manage a large staff and student body.

Education administrators require a master’s degree in education or leadership and, often, prior work experience, in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Administrators at the elementary and secondary levels earned a median salary of $72,037, while college administrators earned an average salary of $64,901 as of May 2018.

Start your Career in Communication

In business and in life, knowing how to connect is the key to success. What can you do with a communications degree? The possibilities are nearly endless. With a communications degree, students have diverse, challenging, and fascinating career options in almost every industry. Find out how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication program can prepare you to take advantage of the array of career opportunities that come with a communications degree.

Sources:

BLS, Public Relations Managers

BLS, Marketing Managers

BLS, Lawyers

The Muse

GCC Council

IABC

ETA International

Payscale, Communications Specialist

Payscale, Jobs for Communications Majors

Payscale, VP of Corporate Communications

Payscale, Public Affairs Specialist

Payscale, College Administrator

Payscale, Elementary and Secondary Administrator