Ask someone to name a handful of jobs that commonly pay six figures and you'll probably hear all about doctors, lawyers and top-level executives. What you probably won't hear about are high-paying jobs that may begin with a communications degree - one that requires not only analytical thinking, but also a flair for creativity.
However, dig deeper and you'll find there are actually quite a few potential jobs for communications majors that can lead to a six-figure income. They may not be as top-of-mind as jobs with titles like physicians and litigators, but these careers may be equally as lucrative and potentially available for those who want to pursue them.
While students can earn a communications degree at nearly any level, the vast majority of post-secondary programs focus on broadening a student's proficiency in the following areas:
- Reading comprehension
- Creative thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Written communications skills
- Public speaking
- Qualitative and quantitative research skills
While learning and refining these skills is likely to be helpful to those who want to study and pursue a career in communications, they may actually apply to any career field.
Five $100K Careers that Can Start with a Communications Major
Now that you know a communications major might lead to a career with high earning potential, let's look at some of the potential six-figure careers for people in communications. Here are five of the most prominent:
- Degree needed: Graduate-level medical degree
- National Annual Mean Wage (2014): $182,700
- Anticipated Job Growth 2014 - 2024: 17 percent
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who help patients deal with a wide range of mental and physical issues. They need excellent communications skills to address issues that can include anything from mental illness to trauma and addiction. Professionals who have strong problem-solving and communication skills are likely to thrive in this career.
How to become a psychiatrist
The common path to this career includes earning a bachelor's degree and subsequent completion of a professional degree - an M.D. - from medical school. While pursuing their advanced degree, students can expect to spend typically four or five years participating in intense classroom and laboratory work, plus supervised clinical training. They may also choose to specialize in a particular field of psychiatry, such as mental health, trauma, addiction or child psychiatry.
- Degree needed: Bachelor's degree
- National annual mean wage: $126,040
- Anticipated job growth 2014-2024: 5 percent
Sales managers typically need much more than a solid educational background to succeed in their jobs; they need excellent communication skills and the ability to motivate a team. These workers use their charisma and communication skills to help sales teams reach their goals, while also performing a wide range of customer service tasks.
In addition to monitoring salespeople who work under them, sales managers may prepare budgets, assign sales tasks and goals and coordinate training for employees.
How to become a sales manager
Becoming a sales manager usually requires earning a bachelor's degree, though some job candidates may need to have earned a master's degree. The most important requirement for these types of managers is the ability to sell and motivate others to reach their goals. However, a background in business, math, accounting, finance or marketing may also be helpful.
Advertising and Promotions Managers
- Degree needed: Bachelor's degree
- National annual mean wage (2014): $114,700
- Anticipated job growth 2014-2024: 9 percent
Although advertising and promotions managers perform a wide range of tasks that vary based on their employer and specific role within a company, almost every one of those duties requires excellent communication skills.
These types of managers plan promotional content and ad campaigns for clients -- responsibilities which often involve a great deal of in-person negotiating and planning. Advertising and promotions managers may also direct the hiring and training of staff within their department - something which requires a great deal of interpersonal skill and patience. While most of these workers are likely to be employed in advertising or public relations firms, jobs in information services, retail trade and management of companies and enterprises are also common.
How to become an advertising and promotions manager
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most advertising and promotions managers have earned a bachelor's degree, and also have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions or sales. In addition to a solid educational background in communication, courses in business, finance, accounting, computer science and statistics may also be helpful.
Personal Financial Advisers
- Degree needed: Bachelor's degree
- National annual mean wage (2014): $108,090
- Anticipated job growth 2014 - 2024: 30 percent
Personal financial advisors are primarily charged with creating informed financial and investment plans for their clients. Since a great deal of client communication is involved, having a knack for small talk, excellent interpersonal skills, and a listening ear can be advantageous for these professionals.
Some personal financial advisers may choose to specialize in a single area, such as retirement planning or risk management. Either way, it's important for personal financial advisors to stay abreast of financial issues that may potentially affect retirement savers and families if they hope to guide them in the right direction. While some financial advisers work for larger firms, many work for small advising firms or are self-employed.
How to become a personal finance adviser
Most personal financial advisers have earned a bachelor's degree. That said, earning a master's degree and subsequent certification may lead to better job prospects and higher pay. Personal financial advisers who hope to sell stocks, bonds or insurance policies additionally may be required to follow various licensing guidelines. Also, many personal financial advisors who work for larger firms must typically register with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
- Degree needed: Master's degree
- National annual mean wage (2014): $105,290
- Anticipated Job Growth 2014-2024: 6 percent
Economists research economic issues with the goal of providing information about facts and trends to businesses, governments and individuals. These workers analyze complex data using tables, charts and graphs, and use the information they uncover to reach conclusions about economic issues and to recommend improvements (or changes) to decision makers.
Because they are constantly collaborating with various stakeholders in the course of their work, excellent communications skills are must. A strong background in mathematics, business, and finance is also helpful for graduates who hope to get their foot in the door. Once economists become gainfully employed, they are likely to rely regularly on their keen analytical skills, critical-thinking skills, attention to detail and writing skills to get their job done.
How to become an economist
The BLS states that most economists get their start by earning a master's degree or Ph.D. However, some government jobs for economists may only require a bachelor's degree. Full-time employment with the government, a consulting service, or a scientific research and development firm are the most popular paths.
Majoring in communications may lead to a wide range of lucrative careers. If you're willing to think outside of the box, you might eventually leverage your communications degree into a six-figure job that's rewarding on both a personal and financial level.
Make sure to do thorough research early on potential career paths. And because many of the highest-paying jobs in communications require an advanced degree, a commitment to higher education will also help as you move toward your career goal.
"29-1066 Psychiatrists," Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291066.htm
"11-2022 Sales Managers," Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes112022.htm
"11-2011 Advertising and Promotions Managers," Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes112011.htm
"13-2052 Personal Financial Advisers," Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132052.htm
"19-3011 Economists," Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193011.htm