Best Jobs for Graduates With a Communications Degree

Career Options for Communication Majors

Text reads: "Top jobs for communications majors: event planner; business reporter; social media manager; public relations specialist; human resources specialist; sales representative"

Image by Luyi Wang © The Balance 2019

If you are fascinated by how you might influence, entertain, and inform others by creating the best possible media content for an audience, a degree in communications may be right for you. The communications major covers many disciplines including advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, broadcasting, media, and film.

Top Skills Communications Majors Have

Communications majors learn how to assess the needs and preferences of readers, viewers, and listeners. They have the creativity to devise innovative strategies for conveying their messages.

Communications majors learn to write effectively in many different modes, including creative, persuasive, descriptive, and journalistic styles. They also exercise the ability to integrate pictures, video, and audio into the communications they create.

Students who major in communications learn to plan, organize, and execute projects, programs, and events. They must be attentive to detail but at the same time understand the big picture. Since communications projects are often subject to criticism and failure, communications majors learn to tolerate critical appraisals of their work and to cope with less-than-successful ventures.

Your final decision about a career with a degree as diverse as communications will be influenced by your individual interests, skills, and values, but here are some promising options for your consideration.

Top 10 Jobs for Communication Majors

Review some of the best job opportunities for communications majors, along with the skills you will need to get hired.

1. Public Relations Specialists

Organizations of all types are concerned about how they are perceived by the public. Communications majors are well positioned to think strategically about how to influence public perceptions through the media. PR professionals write press releases, organize press conferences and other events, and convince the media that stories about the organization have journalistic merit.

Some public relations representatives work for public relations, marketing, and advertising agencies, which service a roster of different clients. Others work directly for corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations in communications departments to get the right messages out about their employer.

Salary and Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $61,150 as of May 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $34,590, and the highest 10% earned more than $115,430. According to the BLS, employment of public relations specialists will expand by 6% through 2028, about as fast as average for all occupations.

2. Meeting/Event Planner

Successful events require a compelling theme and effective promotion in order to attract a viable group of attendees. Communications majors are favorably positioned to assess the interests of consumer groups and members of professional organizations, and to package events in an appealing way. They have the detail orientation and organizational skills to think through the process and to consider all the needs of presenters and attendees.

Event planners can tap the public speaking skills developed in their communication studies to make announcements and introduce speakers at programs.

Their writing skills help them to compose press releases, write descriptions and biographies for event literature, and create online content about meetings.

Salary and Job Outlook: Meeting and event planners earned a median annual salary of $50,600 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,590, and the highest 10% earned more than $86,390. The BLS projects growth of 7% through 2028 for employment of meeting and event planners, a faster-than-average rate for all occupations.

3. College Alumni and Development Officers

Alumni officers evaluate the needs of various alumni groups and plan events such as reunions, networking receptions, and social events to maintain alumni connections to their alma mater.

Development officers study prospective donors and present the aspects of the college that correspond to the interests of particular individuals.

The ability of communications majors to create carefully worded and concise written communications helps the development officer to make their pitches effectively. Development and alumni officers both need to exercise a great deal of social finesse in their interactions with alumni, parents, and other potential donors.

Salary: Salary.com estimates that alumni relations officers earn a median annual salary of $54,498, and college development officers earn a median annual salary of $154,700.

4. Media Planner

Media planners need to understand the clicking, viewing, reading, and listening inclinations of consumers in order to select the best mix of media outlets for an advertising campaign.

Communications majors are uniquely qualified to examine the way demographic groups consume media so they can anticipate the optimal placement of advertisements within television/radio programs, websites, and magazine and newspaper articles.

Media planners also tap the presentation and writing skills developed through communication studies as they pitch their plans to advertising colleagues and executives.

Salary: PayScale estimates that media planners earn an average annual salary of $50,021, with the top 10% earning $63,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $38,000 for less.

5. Social Media Manager

Social media jobs are all about communicating with people. It is no surprise that communications majors, who are trained to analyze patterns of communication, are well qualified to help organizations leverage their brands within social media.

Social media managers must be good writers in order to compose messages about their organization that will appeal to users of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

They must also have the persuasive abilities and presentation skills to pitch their plans to staff, and to convince colleagues and customers to contribute testimonials and other content online.

Salary: PayScale estimates that the average salary for social media managers is $50,986, with the top 10% earning $78,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $35,000 or less.

6. Human Resources Specialist

Human resources professionals are responsible for communication-intensive functions within organizations including recruiting staff, orienting new employees, developing training programs, conveying policies to staff, educating employees about benefits, and creating employee newsletters.

HR staff use public speaking skills to deliver presentations to current/prospective staff, and writing skills to create employee manuals, compose web content, and produce recruitment literature. They use verbal communication skills cultivated by the communications major to counsel/advise employees and to interview candidates for jobs.

Salary and Job Outlook: The BLS estimates that the median annual salary of a human resources specialist as of May 2019 was $61,920. The lowest 10% earned less than $37,180, and the highest 10% earned more than $105,930. The BLS expects that jobs in the field will grow by 5% through 2028, about as fast as average for all occupations.

7. Business Reporter

The proliferation of financial and business media has opened up opportunities for communications majors with an interest in business and finance. Business reporters tap journalistic writing skills to cover developments within businesses, industry, and the economy in general for websites, television stations, newspapers, and magazines. They must be able to convey business information in language understandable by the general public.

In order to cover stories, business reporters use the interpersonal skills developed by the communications major to cultivate relationships with business insiders. They must have the persuasive ability to convince editors about the viability of their ideas for articles.

Salary: Glassdoor estimates that business reporters earn an average of $63,221.

8. Health Educator

Health educators assess the health-related problems and needs of a target population, and formulate programs to address those issues. A key component of their work is understanding the attitudes and perceptions of their constituents regarding health concerns. They must develop and present workshops and seminars geared toward their audience. Health educators produce web content and literature that will appeal to their constituents.

Organizational and event planning skills are essential when orchestrating and promoting health fairs and other programs.

Verbal communication skills are critical when advising students, employees, or the general public in one-on-one sessions.

Salary and Job Outlook: The BLS estimates that health educators earned a median annual salary of $55,220 as of May 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $32,890, and the highest 10% earned more than $98,680. Jobs for health educators and community health workers were projected to grow by 10% through 2028, much faster than average for all occupations.

9. Brand Manager

Brand managers oversee the positioning of products and services within the public's consciousness. They analyze consumer reactions to their products based on factors such as price, consumer experience, packaging, and accessibility. Brand managers supervise the development of communication-intensive campaigns including advertising, promotion, and public relations to enhance sales.

Brand managers must have the interpersonal and communication skills to engender the cooperation of other sales, marketing, and advertising partners. The critical eye of the communications major is needed to evaluate ads, commercials, and other marketing copy.

Salary: According to PayScale, brand managers earn an average annual salary of $71,179 with the top 10% earning $116,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $44,000 or less.

10. Sales Representative

Most communications majors won't be thinking of sales as an eventual career when they enter college. However, they will learn many skills while studying communications that can lead to a successful and lucrative career in sales.

Communications majors learn to assess the preferences of an audience just as a salesperson must be able to anticipate the needs of her customers.

The verbal, written and wider communication skills mastered through the major will equip the salesperson to devise and deliver the right pitch to various types of consumers or businesses.

Salary and Job Outlook: Compensation in the field varies greatly by the area of sales focus. For example, the BLS estimates that wholesale/manufacturing salespersons earned a median annual salary of $63,000 as of May 2019. However, reps selling scientific and technical products earned $81,020, median—nearly $20,000 more than the occupation as a whole. The BLS predicts that employment of wholesale sales and securities salespersons overall will increase 2% through 2028.

Article Sources

  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Public Relations Specialists.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  3. Salary.com. “Alumni Relations Officer Salary.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  4. PayScale. “Average Media Planner Salary.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  5. PayScale. “Average Social Media Manager Salary.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  6. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Human Resources Specialist.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  7. Glassdoor. “Business Reporter Salaries.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  8. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Health Educators and Community Health Workers.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  9. PayScale. “Average Brand Manager Salary.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  10. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives.” Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.