Speech Communication

If you enjoy giving presentations and mediating debates, you might be suited for a career in speech communications. Read on to learn more about job options, employment information and education programs.

Is Speech Communication for Me?

Overview

Speech communication majors acquire advanced communication skills and techniques that are effective at transcending barriers that may impede interaction among groups and individuals. As a speech communication major, you may go on to focus on external communications and serve as a representative of a company or organization by relaying important information to the public or media. You might also focus on internal communications, handling organizational conflict, employee relations and serving as a mediator among interest groups within an organization.

Outcomes

The training and skills developed in a speech communication program may be applied to careers in business, government, industry and the nonprofit sector. You might pursue a career in public relations, policy, marketing, human resources, sales, journalism or teaching. A degree in this field can also be good preparation for graduate education in another field that requires advanced communication skills, such as law, social work, psychology, business administration or teaching.

Employment

If you're considering a degree in speech communication, you may find good job prospects in a number of fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for public relations specialists, including communications specialists, are expected to rise 12% from 2012-2022, which is a roughly average rate of growth (www.bls.gov). Those with college degrees coupled with practical experience may have better prospects; the job market is expected to be tight in this field. The median salary for public relations specialists was $54,170 as of May 2012, per the BLS.

How Can I Work in Speech Communication?

Undergraduate Education

You can major in speech communication or combine speech communication with another major such as business or theater. Some schools offer minor programs of study and speech communication certificate programs. A bachelor's degree in speech communication can be useful for gaining entry-level positions in business, government and industry. Major coursework typically includes instruction in public speaking, business speaking, voice and articulation, interpersonal communication, conflict management and presentation.

Graduate Education

You can pursue graduate study to further develop your research skills, teaching skills or knowledge in a particular specialization. Master's and doctoral degree programs in speech communication incorporate more seminars and focused coursework on communication strategies in government, religion, social movements and rhetoric. Program specializations can include intercultural, organizational, interpersonal, corporate or health communication. Most master's programs require two years of study beyond the bachelor's degree and culminate in a thesis research project, while doctoral degrees generally take four years and require a dissertation project. Distance learners can find online degrees in speech communication as well.

Professional Training

You might also find additional speech communication training and opportunities through professional organizations. For instance, the International Association of Business Communicators offers continuing education through conferences, seminars and distance education certificate programs, as well as an Accredited Business Communicator credential open to those with bachelor's degrees and five years work experience (www.iabc.com).

Required Skills

Closely related to public relations, the speech communication field requires strong relational, critical thinking, persuasion and writing skills.

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