Business Communications Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Oct 20, 2019

Business communications involves a variety of subjects, including conventional management and marketing strategies, promotions, entrepreneurial development and business writing. Students can pursue certificates, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in this field.

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Essential Information

Various types of programs in business communications are available to suit students' needs and interests, with several specializations available in government communications and communications in technical industries.

A certificate program is usually designed for current business professionals and may cover topics such as Web publishing and grant proposals. Bachelor's degree programs, which take 4 years to complete, offer basic training in business skills such as negotiation, marketing and public speaking, along with multimedia technologies for business. At the master's degree level, students study and research advanced business communications topics, including ethics, integrated marketing and corporate communications management. There will likely be a final research project required for master's programs.

To be admitted to a bachelor's program, students should have a high school diploma or GED. Sometimes an associate's degree is helpful to be admitted to a bachelor's program. For a graduate degree, students should already hold a bachelor's degree.

Business Communications Certificate Programs

The majority of certificate programs in business communications do not have any specific education prerequisites. They tend to be developed for communication professionals who already work in the business world. Coursework in business communications certificate programs usually entails introductory or review courses in subjects like Web publishing, writing product descriptions and training on specific software products. Some of the individual classes common to many of these programs can include:

  • Writing grant proposals
  • Composing effective business correspondence
  • Handling statistical text, tables, charts and graphs
  • Creating print, online, and graphic materials

Business Communications Bachelor's Degree Programs

Degree programs in business communications tend to begin at the bachelor's degree level; however, there are a number of associate's degree programs in subjects like business administration and business management that offer information systems communication and effective writing for business courses. Business communications is typically offered as an elective major within a bachelor's degree program such as English. It tends to cover a wide range of subjects, including marketing, information technologies and video production. Common classes often include:

  • Advanced Microsoft Suite and Adobe software training
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Photography and video production for business
  • Public speaking in business settings

Business Communications Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in business communications are generally geared toward expanding students' communication skills and increasing their core business knowledge. It's common for business communications master's degree programs to require that applicants hold at least a bachelor's degree; however, there are many colleges and universities that will accept candidates without this qualification.

The curriculum for most master's degree programs in business communications usually incorporates a balance of professional practice courses and academic learning. Core classes within these programs can include:

  • Ethics in business correspondence and communications
  • Business communication leadership practices
  • Corporate communications management
  • Integrated marketing and public relations communications

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Business communicators, alternatively referred to as information specialists or technical writers, often find employment in governmental organizations and businesses that utilize a large amount of technical documentation, such as manufacturing companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for technical writers is projected to increase 8% from 2018 to 2028. The median annual salary of a technical writer, as of May 2018, was $71,850 . Those with only an associate's degree may earn somewhat less; the bottom 25% of technical writers, for instance, bring in $55,500 or less per year.

Business communications covers a broad range of occupational fields. Graduates from a bachelor's degree program in business communications usually qualify for positions as desktop publishers, public relations specialists, college-level admissions counselors, and event planners. Public relations specialists, as an example, earn a median annual salary of $60,000, according to the BLS as of May 2018. These specialists are expected to see 6% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Many business communications master's degree holders meet the requirements for a variety of occupations, including public relations manager, advertising, marketing and sales executive and advanced technical writer. Public relations and fundraising managers, for instance, are expected to experience 8% growth over the 2018-2028 decade, according to the BLS. As of 2018, the median salary for public relations managers was $114,800 per year.

Continuing Education Information

Those who complete a business communications certificate program and who do not already hold an undergraduate or graduate degree might want to consider applying for admission to one in this or a related field.

The next academic step for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in business communications is often a master's degree or certificate program. Those who do not wish to continue in academia can seek continuing education and professional development courses through professional organizations, such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Graduates from a master's degree program in business communication can choose to continue their higher education by applying for a doctorate degree program. Also, there are a number of professional associations, in addition to the aforementioned AMA and IABC, which can be a resource for continuing education courses, webinars and developmental conferences.

The field of business communications is varied, with degree options at levels ranging from undergraduate certificates to master's degrees. Those interested in the idea of using communication skills to promote products and services should consider this career field.

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