Public Relations Certificate and Certification Program Information

Public relations (PR) training programs equip students with skills to manage relationships between people, organizations and the public. Those interested in working as public relations professionals can begin by earning a certificate.

Essential Information

Public relations certificate programs are typically designed for those who have a bachelor's degree in public relations or a related field. Other candidates may include those who are concurrently pursuing a bachelor's degree or working in the field. In rarer cases, entry may be available to those just exploring public relations as a field of study. Usually 20-40 credit hours in length, these programs prepare students to carry out fundamental PR practices, including planning and executing campaigns that will effectively communicate with a chosen audience.

PR students also learn to prepare news releases, press kits, satellite media tours, media conferences and pitch letters. Crisis management is an important skill learned in certificate programs and is often taught through simulations. Both oral and written communication skills are also essential to success in PR and central to any curriculum. Local businesses may partner with public relations certificate programs to help students gain real-world experience by acting as clients or facilitating internships.

In addition to either being enrolled in or graduated from a four-year bachelor's degree, many PR certificate programs also require incoming students to submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, personal statements and sometimes employer recommendations. Online courses for these programs are available.

Public Relations Certificate

Programs usually consist of 3-10 courses covering areas such as publication design, media writing and public speaking. Topics that may appear in the curriculum include the following:

  • Fundraising
  • Persuasive writing
  • Publication design
  • Publicity methods
  • Audience and market analysis
  • Crisis management

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of public relations specialists would grow 6% between 2014 and 2024. Public relations specialists with knowledge of social media platforms should be in higher demand. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for public relations specialists was $56,770 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

Master's degree programs in public relations offer advanced training in management practices and often qualify students for leadership positions. Programs commonly focus on original research and may allow students to specialize in one specific area of public relations, such as publicity or crisis management. Although there are no certification options for this career field, public relations professionals may get ahead in their field by voluntarily joining organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which is broken down by local chapters, offers tips for professional development and promotes ongoing seminars and conferences related to the field.

Students with, or earning, a bachelor's degree in public relations or a related field may want to go on to earn a public relations certificate to reinforce the skills need to manage the public relations of their clients. PR professionals can also get ahead in their field by earning a master's degree in public relations and joining professional organizations like PRSA.

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