Public Relations Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for public relations majors. Get the facts about the job duties, education requirements, licensure, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Public Relations degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Public Relations Major Do?

Earning a bachelor's degree in public relations could qualify you for a career in the field of communications. Some possible options in the field include public relations specialists and managers, who are in charge of all public communication for a business, organization or individual. Their job is to maintain a positive image for their client and to handle issues and press matters in a skilled manner. Another option for a public relations major is to become a special event coordinator, organizing and scheduling meetings and events on behalf of clients. This will require strong organizational skills, good written and verbal communication and the ability to negotiate contracts.

The table below outlines the general requirements for this career.

Public Relations Specialist Public Relations Manager Special Event Coordinator
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities maintain relationships between companies and the media design and select appropriate publicity materials organize fundraising campaigns and special events
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% * 7% for all public relations and fundraising managers* 10% for all meeting, convention, and event planners*
Median Salary (2015) $56,770* $104,140* $46,840 for meeting, convention, and event planners*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Jobs Can I Qualify for with a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations?

A bachelor's degree in public relations usually qualifies you for entry-level work in an organization or company that relies on maintaining good relationships and communications with clients and the public. Many public relations jobs are found in service-oriented industries, such as advertising, healthcare, sales, social assistance, education and nonprofit services. However, you may also work for production companies, communications firms, fundraising organizations, media outlets and government agencies.

Some of the occupations you could pursue include public relations specialist, special events coordinator, editorial assistant, public relations consultant, policy consultant or communications manager. Public relations specialists working in government are typically called press secretaries and deliver information to the media and public about new activities within the agency they represent. With experience, you might take on a position of more responsibility, such as a director of product communications or senior manager of public affairs.

What Will I Need in Addition to My Degree?

Many professional organizations offer optional professional development and accreditation programs if you're looking to advance within the field of public relations. For instance, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) maintains training courses, advanced seminars and online webinars that can polish your skills in such areas as the use of social media or directing a news story. As a PRSA member, you could also seek accreditation through the Universal Accreditation Board. With a bachelor's degree, a minimum of five years relevant work experience and a passing score on the credentialing examination, you could earn the Accredited in Public Relations designation (www.prsa.org).

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) also offers accreditation for public relations specialists and others in the communications field. You'll need to submit a portfolio of your work and pass a written and oral examination to earn the Accredited Business Communicator designation (www.iabc.com).

What Might My Job Duties Be?

As a public relations professional, your primary responsibility involves informing others about the new products, services or activities of an individual, business or organization. You'll work with clients to design and select appropriate publicity materials, organize fundraising campaigns and coordinate other functions and special events. To do this, you'll write press releases, give interviews, deliver speeches and contact people in the media. If you direct the public relations for an organization, you may also conduct research, plan displays and develop fliers, brochures and other materials for distribution.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

Your salary as a public relations professional will generally vary based on your level of experience and geographic location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median salary for public relations specialists was $56,770 per year, $104,140 for public relations managers, and $46,840 for all meeting, convention, and event planners as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). BLS data showed that firms and companies in Washington D.C. employed many public relations specialists and paid the highest salaries. Projected job growth for public relations specialists for 2014-2024 is as fast as the average at 6%, and as fast as average for public relations and fundraising managers with a growth of 7%. Job growth for meeting, convention and event planners is faster than average over the same time period, with a growth of 10%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are many other careers where holding a bachelor's degree in public relations can be beneficial. You may want to consider becoming a fundraising manager, organizing campaigns and events in order to raise money for an organization or cause. Like public relations professions, this will require you to have strong communication skills, as it may involve being in frequent contact with the media. Another option could be to become a journalist and write original content for media organizations. If special events coordinating appeals, you may also want to look at working for a charity organization at the managerial level. This will require strong project management abilities, an aptitude for finance and budgeting and good communication skills.

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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