Careers in Communications Salary and Career Outlook

Communications ecompasses a broad swath of careers, including writers, the media and professional services. Often, people only think of traditional roles like corporate public relations, traditional print journalism and advertising agencies. But as a digital presence becomes increasingly important for brands in the communications landscape, there are far more communications jobs than before.

If you have a strong interest in communications and all that it entails: verbal, written and sometimes visual, learn more about the exciting opportunities in this field.

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Communications Degree Career Description

Generally, communications degrees break into three fields: journalism, advertising and public relations. A career in any of these fields will require excellent communication skills, the ability to speak and write well and a deep understanding of audience behavior, which a master’s in communications would also cover.

Advertising is a common communications career that touches many lives daily—on television, social media and even by emails. Careers in advertising can range from a creative director dreaming up what ads look like to a social media specialist spicing up your feed. Some common advertising jobs include:

  • Agency account executive
  • Search engine marketer
  • Social media specialist
  • Digital strategist
  • Email marketing specialist
  • Search engine optimization specialist
  • Brand manager
  • Media planner 

In journalism, reporters, photographers and print, digital and visual editors work together to provide news and other relevant information to the public. Increasingly, publications are moving toward digital journalism, where the ability to produce news quickly and publish online is in higher demand than print publications. Journalism careers are also becoming more brand-oriented. Those trained in reporting may work for brands to tell corporate stories or optimize information for search engines. Some common journalism careers include:

  • Reporter
  • Editor
  • Web content manager
  • Social media manager
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Content manager
  • Copywriter

Public relations is a blend of advertising and journalism. As brands and businesses need to communicate with consumers and the media, they work carefully to craft the messaging. Public relations specialists help brands create intentional communications for customers, investors and other stakeholders. Some common public relations jobs include:

  • Public relations manager
  • Events manager
  • Communications manager
  • Investor relations manager
  • Community manager
  • Corporate communications director
  • Development director

5 Great Jobs in Communications

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps careers in communications into one main category and otherwise classifies them by individual occupations. For example:

  • Media and communications occupations include most roles in journalism and public relations. 
  • Advertising, promotion and marketing managers covers advertising and marketing careers.

While there are many ways to use a communications degree, be it working in traditional media or in the digital world of social media, content writing and other internet forums, some jobs are particularly on the rise. Outside of common roles like reporter, advertising account executive or public relations specialist, here are five more niche roles that combine multiple communications skills and can help build up your skill-set:

  • Technical writer: Technical writers use their writing skills to create manuals, how-to guides and textbooks for companies. They have projected job growth of 8%, which is faster than average for all occupations, and a 2019 median pay of $72,850 per year. Technical writing lets you use creative problem-solving skills and analytical thinking to explain things in common language.
  • Social media specialist: Social media specialists can combine knowledge of advertising, communications and audience behavior with the growing field of social media. Social media specialists may manage a company’s social media channels and buy advertising space on channels like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Director of development: A director of development is primarily a fundraiser, often with nonprofits. Those interested in public relations can be a good fit for development because they require strategic communications with would-be donors.
  • Content specialist: Combining journalism, advertising and public relations, a content specialist is a skilled writer who helps organizations communicate better. Job duties can vary from writing blog posts to emails to social media copy, all requiring strong communication skills.1
  • Digital brand manager: Similar to a content specialist, a digital brand manager helps businesses and agencies communicate visually. From design work to videos to social media ads, this career uses many communications degree skills.1

Communications Job Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of media and communication workers is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. It is expected there will be about 27,600 new jobs added during that time period. This projected growth is for the overall category, not individual jobs. The median annual wage for media and communication occupations was $59,230 in May 2019, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,810.

When looking at specific roles in media and communications, job outlook varies by profession. Review some of these communications job growth projections for more information:

What is the Median Communications Salary?

The median annual wage for media and communication occupations was $59,230 in May 2019, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,810. The median salary for advertising, marketing and promotions managers was $135,900 per year in 2019. The median salary for marketing managers was $134,290 in 2019. The median salary for public relations specialists was $61,170 in 2019.

Top States for Communications Jobs

BLS data indicates the following states have the highest employment level for different communications careers. The tables compare employment levels, employment per thousand jobs and annual mean wages by state. Interestingly, the states with the most jobs aren’t always the ones with the highest wages (2019).

Reporters

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Annual mean wage
New York 6,020 0.63 $90,160
California 4,500 0.26 $67,870
Texas 2,640 0.21 $52,660
District of Columbia 2,220 3.06 $103,320
Florida 2,050 0.23 $62,580

Public Relations Specialists

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Annual mean wage
California 26,700 1.54 $74,990
Texas 26,110 2.10 $60,600
New York 25,760 2.70 $78,230
District of Columbia 18,600 25.71 $109,390
Florida 11,830 1.34 $60,740

Advertising and Promotions Managers

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Annual mean wage
New York 7,840 0.82 $184,920
California 2,670 0.15 $149,320
Texas 1,390 0.11 $111,140
Florida 1,290 0.15 $89,810
Massachusetts 880 0.24 $124,370

Is a Career in Communications Right for You?

Communications careers vary in requirements and daily tasks but many of them come down to one thing: how can you get a message to an intended audience. Whether you find you are a skilled writer, a great orator, a creative thinker or a visual wizard, a career in communications may be for you.

If you think you want to work in the digital media landscape of today, a communications degree online may be a good option.

 

Last Updated August 2020

1 AHA! “Marketing Overview: What are Some Marketing Job Titles?” Accessed August 2020.