Public Relations Certification and Certificate Program Information

Certificate programs in public relations teach students how to perform the basic duties of a public relations specialist, with a focus on writing and interpersonal communication skills. Interning in the field or work experience is usually part of this certificate program.

Essential Information

Public relations certificate programs provide introductory training in the duties of a public relations specialist, including working with the media and strengthening a client's public image. These certificates can be found at the undergraduate and graduate levels; graduate certificate programs will require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Prior experience in public relations or business is helpful as well. Many programs include opportunities for students to gain practical experience with a local organization through an internship.

Certificate in Public Relations

Public relations certificate programs are for students at many stages of their education or career, and most programs focus on foundational training for those with little to no experience. Areas of study include developing writing skills, managing media relations, and negotiating with legislators. Programs generally consist of lectures, projects and case studies. Common courses include the following:

  • Introduction to public relations
  • Public relations writing and editing
  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Marketing
  • Public relations strategy

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (, there were approximately 240,700 jobs for public relations specialists in 2014. With most jobs clustered in large cities, like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., public relations specialists worked in government, education, healthcare and other service-providing industries. The BLS expects job opportunities for public relations specialists to grow 6% between 2014 and 2024. Public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $56,770 as of May 2015, according to BLS figures.

Continuing Education Information

Certification is not required to become a public relations specialist. However, accreditation is available through two organizations. First, individuals can earn Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation through the Universal Accreditation Board. Five years of public relations work experience and a bachelor's degree in a communications field are required prior to receiving a readiness review and taking the computer-based exam.

An individual can also earn the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation through the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Though more focused on the communications field in general, IABC does have a specific public relations accreditation. As with APR designation, ABC designation requires five years of experience and a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.

Although it isn't required, an undergraduate or graduate certificate in public relations will help you gain experience and skills towards becoming a public relations specialist. For students seeking certification, voluntary accreditation is available through two professional organizations.

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