As a public relations specialist, your tact and communication skills will be highly valued. Public relations specialists work as advocates for a variety of organizations, including businesses, nonprofits, universities, and hospitals. These groups depend on public relations specialists to maintain a positive reputation and, in the case of for-profit businesses, profitability.
Public relations specialists handle organizational messages involving media, community, consumer, industry, and governmental communications. As a public relations specialist, you may draft press releases and interact with media, as well as establish speaking engagements. You may be called on to prepare speeches and talking points for company officials. In essence, as a public relations specialist, you will act as an intermediary between the public and your employer, and it is the expectation that you will be your employer's best voice.
Online Courses and Degrees for Public Relations Careers
In public relations, the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, is essential to the job. Your coursework should center on communication strategies, marketing, journalism, and strong writing skills. Business program in a public relations might include public communication, marketing principles, social media, technical or business, writing, and consumer behavior.
Many entry-level public relations specialists majored in public relations, journalism, advertising, or communication as college undergraduates. The firm's specific line of business will influence the qualifications they are seeking. For instance, an information technology company might want to hire a public relations specialist with knowledge of information technology. Other organizations that regularly hire public relations specialists include those in health care, science, engineering, sales, athletics, and finance. Something to keep in mind when you are earning your public relations or related degree: your elective courses, if chosen wisely, might help you when you begin your career.
To be considered for higher-level public relations jobs after graduation, or to advance out of entry-level once you begin a career, a master's degree in public relations or related field is often required. Undergraduate and graduate public relations degrees can be earned online, allowing students to boost their career potential while still juggling work and life commitments.
Public Relations Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forecasts that jobs in public relations are expected to increase by 18 percent from 2006 to 2016, or from 243,000 to 286,000 positions. Even with this increase in available positions, competition for entry-level public relations jobs is expected to be high. Those with higher degrees in public relations and related fields should experience the greatest opportunities, in both finding jobs and in earning higher salaries.
The BLS placed 2007 median earnings for public relations specialists at $49,800, with the top 10 percent earning $94,620 and the lowest 10 percent earning $29,580. Public relations specialists working in petroleum and coal products manufacturing enjoyed the highest median salary of $112,970 in 2007.