What Can You Do with a Communication Degree: 10 Career Paths

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 10, 2021

A degree in communications serves as a gateway to careers in numerous industries.

A communications degree student walks on campus with her phone and a folder of coursework

We live in an information age with more ways than ever to find and consume data. A communications degree is designed to help you learn to share information through a variety of methods. 

Strong and effective communication skills are an invaluable asset in just about any industry. A degree in communications can open doors to careers in a wide range of fields. Let’s take a look at 10 common jobs for communication majors, what you can do with a more specialized communications degree, and what skills you’ll likely learn in a communications program.

Communications degree job options: 10 career fields

The ability to communicate effectively will serve you well in just about any job. These 10 career opportunities tend to emphasize the skills of communications graduates.

All salary data represents average salary in the US as of July 2021 via Glassdoor.

1. Social and digital media

The emergence of digital media has changed the way we communicate and consume information. Working in this industry means leveraging social networks, online news platforms, and other digital technologies to disseminate a company’s message.

As a social media manager or digital media planner, you may be tasked with:

  • Running a company’s social media accounts

  • Developing digital content strategy

  • Leveraging visual elements to tell brand stories

  • Communicating with the public online

  • Planning and tracking the success of digital campaigns

Social media manager salary: $54,156

Tips for getting the job: Most digital or social media specialists have a bachelor’s degree in communications or public relations. It’s also essential to have knowledge of social media platforms and search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. 

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2. Public relations

The field of public relations focuses on managing the spread of information and messages between individuals or organizations and the general public. This is often done to create a more favorable public image.

As a public relations specialist, you may be tasked with:

  • Writing press releases

  • Speaking to the media

  • Developing persuasive story ideas to earn media placement

  • Analyzing trends

  • Problem solving after a crisis 

Public relations specialist salary: $51,166

Tips for getting the job: Most companies look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, or journalism. Build your skills by volunteering for your school paper or interning at a PR agency.

3. Marketing and advertising

Marketing and advertising both play a key role in business success. Professionals in these fields help build brand identity, develop a customer base, and increase profits. 

As a marketing or advertising professional, you may be tasked with:

  • Conducting market research

  • Monitoring market trends

  • Collaborating with sales, product development, and public relations teams

  • Developing messaging campaigns to build brand awareness

  • Producing clear and engaging content for various media platforms

Marketing manager salary: $102,448

Tips for getting the job: Communications roles in marketing and advertising typically require a bachelor’s degree in communications, advertising, or business. Practice writing marketing plans for companies you might want to work for. This is sometimes a part of the interview process for higher-level positions. 

Some marketing and advertising managers start out as entry-level sales representatives or PR specialists to gain experience. Others go on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Read more: What Is an MBA Degree?

4. Human resources

The human resources (HR) department at an organization oversees many elements of the employee lifecycle. Human resource specialists are there to support employees and maintain company morale.

As an HR specialist, you may be tasked with:

  • Recruiting and hiring new employees

  • Training new hires

  • Moderating workplace conflict

  • Supporting employee health and wellness

  • Managing disciplinary actions

  • Conducting benefit analysis

Human resources specialist salary: $54,067

Tips for getting the job: While requirements vary from company to company, most HR specialists have at least a bachelor’s degree. Consider courses in psychology and human resource management to develop your skills. Further enhance your resume by getting certified by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the HR Certification Institute.

5. Writing and publishing

While digital media may be the new norm, that hasn’t changed the need for effective written communication. The writing skills you gain through your communications degree can open up opportunities for jobs in journalism, technical writing, book authoring, or publishing. 

As a writer or editor, you may be tasked with:

  • Communicating ideas through clear, concise writing

  • Structuring content to efficiently deliver information

  • Revising and preparing content for publication

Editor salary: $58,416

Tips for getting the job: Most careers in writing and publishing require at least a bachelor’s degree in communications or journalism. Develop your writing and editing skills by working for your school newspaper or participating in online writing communities.  

6. Media

The main focus of the media sector is to communicate, whether for educational or entertainment purposes. Roles in traditional media are varied and include jobs in television, film, and radio.

As a media professional, you may be tasked with:

  • Presenting information verbally

  • Interviewing notable individuals

  • Providing commentary 

  • Combining visual and audio elements to tell a story

Broadcaster salary: $51,447

Tips for getting the job: The world of media tends to be competitive. As you’re working toward your degree, build valuable experience by volunteering at your school’s radio or television station.

7. Meeting and event planning

A lot of work goes into the success of an event, including detailed planning, effective promotion, and efficient communication with speakers and attendees. Meeting and event planners might work onsite for hotels or convention centers or for particular organizations or event planning firms.

As an event planner, you may be tasked with:

  • Conducting market research

  • Negotiating contracts with vendors

  • Working with clients to identify goals and needs

  • Coordinating logistics with technology, lodging, food and beverage, and transportation providers

  • Collaborating with marketing and PR to promote the event

Event planner salary: $51,179

Tips for getting the job: Many event planners have a bachelor’s degree in communications or hospitality management. Boost your resume with a certification that demonstrates your expertise. Widely recognized credentials include the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP), or the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) certificate.

8. Politics

The ability to craft and deliver a persuasive message is often critical to success in politics. This is true whether you’re running for public office, lobbying legislators to support a cause, or consulting on a campaign. 

As a politics professional, you may be tasked with:

  • Planning and drafting bills and legislation

  • Raising money for a campaign or cause

  • Conducting polling or opposition research

  • Communicating efforts and accomplishments to constituents

  • Cooperating with other offices to form coalitions 

Legislative assistant salary: $49,611

Tips for getting the job: There’s more than one path toward a career in politics. In addition to polishing your communications skills, get a jump start by volunteering for a local political campaign or lobbying organization.

9. Fundraising

Fundraisers help raise money and other donations for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, religious organizations, research foundations, and political campaigns. 

As a fundraiser, you may be tasked with:

  • Planning and organizing fundraising events

  • Building and maintaining relationships with previous and potential donors

  • Writing funding proposals, reports, and press releases

  • Training volunteers

  • Attending community events

Fundraiser salary: $41,883

Tips for getting the job: Fundraisers typically have a degree in communications, public relations, journalism, or business. Gain work experience by volunteering with local campaigns or organizations. This can open opportunities for paid positions.

10. Sales

Sales people leverage written and verbal communication skills to deliver pitches, sell products, and win repeat customers. You’ll find sales roles in a wide variety of industries, including retail, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, financial services, and travel.

As a salesperson, you may be tasked with:

  • Explaining the benefits of a product or service

  • Managing client relationships

  • Analyzing existing and potential needs of a client

  • Resolving complaints

  • Reaching out to new clients through cold calling

Sales development representative (SDR) salary: $47,774

Tips for getting the job: Not all sales positions require a degree. But communications skills could help you learn to anticipate the needs of customers and clearly communicate benefits that meet those needs.

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Specialized communications degrees

While a bachelor of communications can be a generalist degree, some colleges and universities offer more specialized versions. These degrees are worth considering if your goals include a niche career in communications.

  • Fashion communications degrees are geared toward students interested in careers in fashion journalism, creative direction, brand development, and graphic design.

  • Health communications focuses on improving individual and community health through effectively generating and distributing health information.

  • Strategic communications degrees focus on communicating with employees, promoting the vision and values of an organization, and building positive corporate reputations.

  • With a visual communications program, you can learn how to communicate through different visual media, like graphic design, industrial design, photography, painting, or drawing.

  • A business communications degree focuses on topics related to a company’s internal and external communications, including public relations and technical writing.

  • Sports communication degrees help prepare students for careers as sports reporters, announcers, and public relations specialists for teams or athletes.

  • A media communications degree is designed for career fields like public relations, journalism, filmmaking, and broadcasting.

  • Technical communications degrees build skills in technical writing, proposal and grant writing, editing and proofreading, and visual communication.

  • Earn a degree in global or international communications if your career goals include a job at a company that sells or markets internationally.

  • Mass communications coursework examines how media functions and impacts society.

Top skills of communications majors

Communications curriculums focus on effective strategies for sharing information. These are some of the skills you can build as you earn this degree in communications studies.

Communications skills

  • Written, verbal, and visual communication

  • Public speaking 

  • Collaboration and teamwork

Research and analysis skills

  • Information gathering

  • Critical analysis

  • Developing hypotheses

  • Presentation skills

Other skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Self-sufficiency

  • Cross-team collaboration

  • Conflict resolution

  • Leadership and management

Next steps

Whether you’re pivoting to a new career or looking to advance within your current field, learn how earning your bachelor’s degree or master’s degree can help you get there.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is the average salary for a communications major?

How much you can make as a communications major depends on many factors, including your location, industry, skills, and work experience. The average base salary for someone with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications in the US is $62,000 per year, according to PayScale.

Is a communication major hard?

Communications coursework tends to focus on workplace skills more than technical skills. If you’re a good communicator, enjoy working with people, and can think analytically, you could find success in communications. In a communications degree program, you can expect to take classes in topics like research methods, writing and reporting, media psychology, statistics, marketing, and media.

What master's degree can I get with a bachelor's in communications?

A bachelor’s degree in communications can serve as a step toward a variety of graduate degree programs. Depending on your career goals, you could consider getting a master’s degree in marketing, public relations, data analytics, business administration (MBA), law, or economics. When considering whether to invest time and money in a graduate degree, be sure to consider the job you ultimately want to have, and what degree might help you get there.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 10, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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