How to Become a Public Relations Agent: Career Roadmap

Mar 05, 2020

Find out how to become a public relations agent. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in public relations.

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Public Relations Agents

Public relations (PR) agents plan and execute strategic public image campaigns for their clients. They may also work together with corporate marketing, advertising, and human resources departments to execute specific communications and image-enhancement programs. Public relations professionals usually work in an office setting on a full-time basis. Some positions require travel. Long workdays and overtime are typical. PR agents must be comfortable talking in front of groups both large and small.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Public relations, journalism, communications, or a related field
Experience Entry-level jobs may be available for PR specialists; public relations managers need several years of industry experience
Certification Voluntary certification available
Key Skills Organizational, listening, problem-solving, time-management, public speaking skills; communication in written and verbal format
Medial Annual Salary (May 2018)* $60,000 (for all Public Relations Specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Public relations agents need a bachelor's degree in public relations, journalism, communications or a related field. Entry-level jobs may be available for PR specialists, though public relations managers need several years of industry experience. Voluntary certification is available. Public relations agents need strong written and verbal communication, organizational, listening, problem-solving, time-management and public speaking skills. According to 2018 wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public relations specialists earned a median salary of $60,000.

Become a Public Relations Agent

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

A bachelor's degree in public relations, communications or journalism is preferred for careers in public relations. Aspiring PR agents may also want to consider courses in public speaking, advertising, business administration and creative writing, even if they are not required for graduation.

Step 2: Complete On-the-Job Training

At the entry level, training is typically interspersed with basic tasks, such as filing and conducting research. After training is complete, the new employee may graduate to more traditional PR agent duties, such as writing press releases and planning campaigns.

Aspiring public relations agents should join a professional organization. Organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) offer their members career development tools like training and networking opportunities. Joining such organizations may help aspiring public relations agents advance their careers.

Step 3: Consider Professional Certification to Stand Out

The BLS noted that graduates seeking employment in this field are likely to face strong competition due to a limited number of jobs. However, jobs for PR professionals are likely to grow with the increased use of social media, according to the BLS. As such, demonstrating proficiency in social media tools can give PR agents a competitive advantage in getting hired or promoted. The National Social Media Institute offers the Social Media Strategist (SMS) credential to candidates who pass an exam. To qualify for the SMS exam, candidates must have an associate's degree or at least 2 years of experience in a related field.

Public relations agents need a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, journalism, or a related field, and voluntary certifications are available.

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