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How to Become a Communications Consultant: Career Guide

Learn how to become a communications consultant. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in communications consulting.

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Should I Become a Communications Consultant?

Communications consultants develop and write content for internal and external media communications including internet, video, print and email. Consultants may also create strategies to strengthen communication among employees and with clients.

The majority of communications consultants work during regular business hours on a full-time basis, most often in an office setting. Self-employed consultants generate their own business through advertisement and referrals. Some long workdays and overtime may be required, depending on the project and its corresponding deadlines.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree, some employers may require a master's degree
Degree Fields Communications, public relations or related field
Experience Depends on position, up to ten years
Key Skills Writing, communication, presentation and project management skills, ability to interact with people at all levels, proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat
Salary (2014) $55,680 (Median annual wage for all media and communications workers public relations specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While communications consultant positions most commonly require a bachelor's degree, the major can vary depending on the position or type of company where the candidate applies. A degree in communications is most common, however, other possible majors include public relations, journalism, marketing or English, according to recent job postings in August 2015. Students may also be able to pursue a concentration within a communications degree program, such as mass communication, digital media or organizational communication.

Success Tips:

  • Join a professional organization. Some professional organizations, such as the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Association of Professional Communications Consultants (APCC) have student membership options. These memberships offer the benefits of the professional memberships at a lower cost. To qualify, full-time student enrollment may be required. Memberships may include access to postings of job opportunities, training opportunities and networking with professionals in the field.
  • Seek out an internship. Schools and professional organizations, like the IABC, are sources for finding internship opportunities. Intern boards, similar to job boards, are an additional resource. Internships can provide work experience and valuable contacts. In some cases an internship may lead to a full-time position after graduation.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

While job postings from August 2015 indicated that work experience requirements can range from two to ten years, the area of experience varied, depending on the type of company. Although there may be commonalities among some of the job requirements, the range included experience in public relations, marketing, managing, speech writing, training, human resources, media and project management.

Some of the duties communications consultants may be responsible for include developing and delivering training material and programs, communicating with clients and executives, creating marketing campaigns and analyzing the success levels of those campaigns. In some cases, coordinating and conducting media interviews may also be a requirements.

Success Tips:

  • Obtain Certifications. Professional organizations, such as the Matrix Foundation, IABC or the National Human Communication Institute, offer voluntary certification or professional accreditation options to professionals working in the communications field. The programs generally require coursework, testing, or experience in the field to be certified. Though gaining one of these types of credentials may not be a requirement for employment, it provides candidates with a competitive edge.

Step 3: Obtain a Master's Degree

Earning a master's degree can improve a candidate's chances in the workplace and may lead to career advancement. Prospective employers may consider job applicants with master's degrees in public relations, communications, or journalism. Earning a Master of Business Administration may also be preferred. Master's degrees are also available through online learning.

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