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Career Information for a Degree in Public Relations

Public relations is usually offered as a four-year degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Public relations degree programs include topics that range from law to research methods. These programs prepare individuals for work as specialists or managers. Both of these professions routinely interact with the media and the public. Public relations degree programs teach students how to design effective campaigns that influence public opinion. These curricula develop a diverse set of skills, such as writing press releases, giving public speeches and conducting research. Because advertising and journalism are closely related to public relations, some programs include courses from these majors. Many programs also include coursework in research and communication law.

Career TitlesPublic Relations SpecialistPublic Relations Manager
Required EducationBachelor's degreeBachelor's degree
Certification OptionsN/APublic Relations Society of America or Accredited Business Communicator
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*12%13%
Average Salary (2013)*$63,020$111,260

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals who work in public relations design campaigns that promote an organization's image positively to the public (www.bls.gov). Professionals in this industry may be employed by the company they promote or work for large firms that provide their services to clients. Public relations may also be referred to as corporate or marketing communications.

Public Relations Specialists

Many entry-level workers begin as public relations specialists. The BLS indicates that these professionals coordinate companies' relationships with the public through events like community projects. Specialists are often in contact with the media, answering questions and sending out press releases. The BLS states that specialists who work for government officials or agencies may be referred to as press secretaries.

Public Relations Managers

The BLS describes the primary job duties of a public relations manager as planning and directing a program as well as possibly supervising a staff of specialists. Similar to specialists, managers tend to have regular contact with the media. These professionals often work with executive-level personnel, including the heads of marketing and advertising. The BLS indicates that managers often specialize in one area of the field, such as crisis management and social media, or work with a particular industry.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment opportunities for public relations specialists were expected to increase 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, while jobs for public relations and fundraising managers were expected to increase 13 percent. As the public relations industry grows, specialists will be needed to work in areas like social media and advertising. Additional openings will be created as specialists advance to management positions. Both specialists and managers may find work in private industry and government sectors.

Salary Information

In May 2013, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for specialists was $63,020, while the average annual earnings of managers were $111,260. Managers in the most lucrative industries, like telecommunications, electronic shopping, and securities and commodities earned more than $154,000 on average per year.

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