Digital Communications Specialist: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a digital communications specialist. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in digital communications. View article »

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  • 0:00 Digital Communications…
  • 0:58 Career Requirements
  • 1:48 Steps to Be a…

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Video Transcript

Digital Communications Specialists

Digital communications specialists typically work in website development, advertising, public relations or marketing, or even video production and computer animation. Due to the varying nature of this job, digital communications specialists often combine skills from several disciplines including journalism, business, computer science and design.

Typical job duties for a digital communications specialist revolve around enhancing the internal and external communications of a company including initiatives to improve employee, consumer and media communication. These specialists implement communications plans for digital and social media and develop content for blogs, tweets and Facebook, as well pictures and videos for these outlets. Their goal is to manage and grow the company's presence on social media and other digital outlets.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Communications, journalism, business, computer science, design
Experience 2-5 years experience
Certification/Licensure Voluntary
Key Skills Strong writing, negotiation, time-management, prioritization, and communication skills; creativity; teamwork and the ability to meet deadlines; extensive knowledge and experience with social media platforms; ability to plan, manage, and execute initiatives
Salary (2015) $43,653 (2016 median annual wage for digital media specialists)

Sources: Payscale.com, Job postings for August 2015

Digital communications specialists need a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, business, computer science, or design. Typical 2-5 years' experience is required and voluntary certifications are available. Key skills needed include strong writing, negotiation and communication and time management. Additionally, these professionals should exhibit creativity, teamwork and time management skills. They should be able to meet deadlines and prioritize work, and should have extensive knowledge and experience with social media platforms, including the ability to plan, manage and execute initiatives. According to January 2016 data from Payscale.com, the median annual salary for digital media specialists was $43,653 per year.

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Steps to Be a Communications Specialist

Step 1 in becoming a digital communications specialist is to pursue post-secondary education. Students pursuing training in digital communications can enroll in certificate and/or undergraduate degree programs. Some colleges and technical schools offer certificates that can be completed quickly and may qualify students for many entry-level positions.

Associate's degree programs provide students with a general understanding of communications theory, as well as technical knowledge about the transmission of data. Bachelor's degrees in communications, journalism, business or computer science further enhance job opportunities for those entering the field and provide students with in-depth training in the various elements of communications. Some schools allow students in some of these majors to choose a concentration in digital communications specifically. Courses in digital layout, desktop publishing, advertising, computer technology, digital graphic design and digital media writing provide skill sets that can be applied across the wide spectrum of the digital communications field.

Step 2 in becoming a digital communications specialist is to gain technical experience. Employers seeking digital communications specialists often value experience with a wide variety of technical applications and software programs. Corporations and government agencies typically look for workers who have skills in photo editing, document editing and digital design. Communications specialists are responsible for updating and managing their employers' social media presence through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Fluency in these platforms and programs like Photoshop, SharePoint and Adobe Dreamweaver is essential for employment in this field.

Step 3 involves seeking employment. Individuals with undergraduate degrees can seek employment working as marketing coordinators, graphic designers, web service managers or networking experts, among other positions. Graduates with master's degrees, however, may obtain higher-level positions in public relations, corporate marketing, television, entertainment and other industries. These graduates' training allows them to provide leadership in web design, communications analysis, advertising and public relations.

Step 4 in becoming a digital communications specialist might involve pursuing an advanced degree. Students might earn either a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) degree with an emphasis in digital communications. Classes for these programs are often offered online or in the evenings to accommodate students' work schedules.

M.S. degree programs usually focus on the technology needed to communicate in the modern world. Students study media communication processes, mass media regulations and other related topics. M.A. coursework often emphasizes digital forms of writing, speaking or visual arts as communication devices. Internships with broadcasting stations, cable companies or web design firms are often part of the curriculum.

Students may also go on to pursue a doctoral degree in communications, which prepares participants for teaching or research positions.

Digital communications specialists typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as communications, journalism or business, and can earn a median annual wage of $43,653, according to 2016 data from Payscale.com.


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