How Do I Become a Public Relations Person?

Research what it takes to become a public relations person. Learn about degree requirements, certification, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Public Relations degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Public Relations Person Do?

A public relations (PR) person is in charge of the communications and general image of a company, organization or possibly individual. Celebrities, governmental organizations, charities, nonprofits and private organizations all require public relations workers. Public relations people release information with the purpose of creating a positive image for their client and also take control of any negative press. Strong written and verbal skills are paramount since they frequently write press releases and speak on behalf of their clients. For more information on this career, consult the table below:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Public relations, journalism, communications
Key Skills Speaking, interpersonal, writing, problem-solving
Certification Certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all public relations specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $56,770 (for all public relations specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Obtain the Requisite Education and Training in Public Relations

While there are no specific educational requirements for public relations specialists, most agencies and departments seek applicants who have earned bachelor's degrees in a communications-related field, such as public relations and journalism. Public relations curricula usually include courses in public relations principles, media law and ethics, mass communications and public relations research. If you choose to major in journalism, you study subjects such as broadcast journalism, print journalism and foreign language, along with fine arts and humanities courses.

Participate in an Internship

Internships are a common entryway into public relations careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Many undergraduate public relations and communications programs require or facilitate internships, perhaps within a university's media relations department. As an intern, you are responsible for tasks such as monitoring news outlets, writing press releases, assisting visitors, taking calls from the media and directing inquiries to the appropriate communications managers. Internships provide you with valuable job experience and can lead directly to paid employment.

Build a Portfolio

A professional portfolio can provide you with an advantage when you're trying to land an entry-level public relations job. A portfolio showcases samples of your most impressive work, such as press releases, articles, newsletters, video segments and presentations.

Seek Accreditation

Though not required of public relations specialists, accreditation can help advance your career. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) offer accreditation programs to enhance your professional image. The Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation is offered by the PRSA, while IABC awards the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) credential. Both accreditations require a bachelor's degree in a communications field, satisfactory performance on oral and written examinations, a portfolio review and at least five years of professional experience.

Advance Your Career

As you begin your career as a public relations specialist, you can gradually take on more responsibilities. This could result in a promotion from a junior account executive to an account manager or higher. Higher level positions include a promotion to director or vice president. You might even start your own consulting business.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One of the most similar career paths to working in public relations is working in advertising or marketing. Public relations or communication degree programs will help students build the required skills for these positions, which involve preparing and promoting a product or service to a target demographic. Becoming a market research analyst is another option that entails researching the consumer market and evaluating the suitability of a product or service for those market conditions. For students who studied journalism at the bachelor's degree level and enjoy the communicative aspect of working in public relations, consider becoming a broadcast journalist or news anchor. These professionals also need to have strong written and verbal skills in order to research and communicate information on current events to a broad audience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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