Speech Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career opportunities for speech majors. Get the facts about about education requirements, job options, salary, and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available For a Speech Major?

Speech majors can find jobs in many different fields, including speech-language pathology, journalism and public relations, among many others. Speech-language pathologists work with people who have physical problems talking. Journalists need excellent communication skills in order to create both written news stories and scripts for live TV news reports. Public relations managers work directly with clients and the public and need speech skills so that they can think, act and talk on the fly while managing an employer's public image. The following table gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering some of these fields.

Speech-Language Pathologist Public Relations Manager Journalist
Degree Required Master's degree Bachelor's degree (sometimes a master's is required) Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Communications, speech, hearing sciences Communications, public relations, journalism Communications, liberal arts, journalism
Key Responsibilities Treat patients with speech problems, diagnose communication and swallowing disorders, provide speech therapy Coordinate an organization's communication with the public, write press releases, formulate advertising campaigns Cover local news stories, interview people with pertinent information, write articles for blogs and newspapers, and scripts to be read on TV or the radio
Certification Certification and licensure required in most states Optional certification available Not common
Job Growth (2014-24) 21%* 7%* -8% (for all reporters and correspondents)*
Median Salary (201) $73,410* $104,140* $36,360 (for all reporters and correspondents)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Speech Major?

A bachelor's degree program in speech focuses on human communication theories and verbal communication principles. As a speech major, you will take courses in how to write organized speeches and how to speak publicly with confidence. You will learn to debate, communicate persuasively and tell a story that captivates your audience. Discussion of communication challenges among different genders, cultures and social groups will be part of many of your courses. Major required courses include:

  • Effective public speaking principles
  • Speech communication theory
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Oral interpretation
  • Public speaking
  • Debate and argumentation
  • Communication, culture and diversity

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Speech majors learn excellent verbal communication and critical thinking skills that are required in many fields, such as law, public relations, writing, education, business, health, government, sales and human resources. Specific jobs open to you with a bachelor's degree in speech include actor, political campaigner, speech writer, labor relations specialist and public relations officer. You could also become a trainer and help others to improve their public speaking abilities. All of these professions involve effectively delivering information to mass audiences.

A bachelor's degree in speech is also a foundation for graduate study in a variety of fields, including law, business, education, journalism or writing. An advanced degree opens more jobs to you, such as lawyer, judge, executive officer, newscaster, professor and advertising director.

What Can I Earn?

Your earnings will be highly dependent on the career field you choose. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported median salaries of $73,410 for speech-language pathologists, $104,140 for public relations managers and $36,360 for reporters and correspondents. According to the BLS, the median annual salaries in 2015 for customer service representatives and labor relations specialists were $31,720 and $58,820, respectively (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Speech majors might consider pursuing advertising sales agent positions, which require at least a high school diploma at the entry level, though a bachelor's may be preferred for some jobs. As a sales agent, you would be trying to land clients for your firm's advertising services. Your work will be done over the phone or through in-person presentations to sell a client on your firm.

Those interested in speech-language pathology may want to consider the related field of recreational therapy, which requires a bachelor's degree. Recreational therapists use various therapy modalities - including drama, which would benefit from a background in speech - to help treat patients with injuries, disabilities and illnesses. They aim to help patients stay healthy not only physically, but also socially and emotionally.

Announcing is another job option that is related to journalism. TV and radio announcers typically need a bachelor's degree, and they put their speaking skills to work by announcing music or the news. Some announcers also present sports or other major events, like parades, and provide commentary.

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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