How to Become a Communications or Public Relations Specialist

Overview & Salaries

How Much Does an Public Relations Specialist Make?

$54,170 (median)

Expected Growth from 2012-2020:


Specialization Options:
Digital communications, advertorial, press releases and paid media

Recommended Degree:
The right degree for you depends on the business and industry you apply at. Those looking for an entry positions are likely to need a bachelors degree in public relations, communications, marketing, journalism, or business. If you are looking for a very junior level PR position, then an associates degree is recommended. Those looking to get into a competitive or advance position may benefit from earning an MBA, master’s degree or specific certifications like the APR. Learn more by clicking our “Education Required” tab up top.

(all information above provided by the 2012 BLS Auditing and Accounting and Accounting Clerk pages) 

Discover the Best Places to Become a Public Relations Specialist

The state of New York leads the nation in employment for communications and public relations specialists, with 22,380 working in various industries statewide, and earning an annual mean wage of $66,480. California is second in employment, where 21,730 are presently occupying positions in the state, and earning an average yearly salary of $71,390.

Employment of public relations and communications specialists are concentrated in the following industries:

  • Religious, grant making, civic, professional, and similar organizations 22%
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services 17%
  • Educational services; state, local, and private 13%
  • Health care and social assistance 9%

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top states employing media and communication specialists include:

  • California (12,140)
  • Minnesota (1,600)
  • Nevada (550)
  • District of Columbia (320)
  • Alaska (110)

Top states employing public relation workers include:

  • New York (22,380)
  • California (21,730)
  • Texas (16,050)
  • District of Columbia (10,710)
  • Pennsylvania (10,060)

Employment & Salary Information by State for PR Specialists

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career in Communications and Public Relations. The associated information has been gathered from the Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Communications and Public Relations

Why Become Communications or Public Relations Specialist

The communications and public relations professional works, in part, in the exciting and fasted paced media space. These professionals are tasked with creating internal and external communications strategies for businesses while also working with the media to generate positive press about their business, products and employees.

In many companies and organizations, the communications and public relations professional will have overlapping responsibilities. Typically their strengths lay in written and verbal communications and public relations planning.

Recommended Courses to Become a Public Relation Specialist

  • Business Writing
  • Introduction to Journalism
  • Public Relations
  • Media Research and Writing
  • Media and Crisis Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Organizational Communication
  • Introduction to Mass Communications
  • Media Relations Management
  • Marketing Communications

Degrees to Help You Become a Public Relations Specialist

There are several ways to approach a career in Communications and Public Relations. One of the most popular and effective paths is working in journalism and media before transitioning to the other side (i.e. public relations). Many journalists, after years working under tight deadlines, high stress and nominal pay move to this field because they understand what journalists are looking for in a story and how to deliver that message.

A certificate program in communications and public relations provides students with written and oral communication skills necessary to succeed in this space. The curriculum also provides students insight into practices and theories on effective communications and public relations support for businesses.

Bachelor’s Degree
In addition to providing a full slate of courses designed to improve and grow written and oral communications so important in any organization today, a bachelor’s degree in communications will offer courses on theory and business applications. These degrees prepare individuals for expanded communication specialist roles in a wide range of industries.

Master’s Degree
A master’s degree in communications and public relations provides individuals with advanced training and techniques in related social media, strategic and internal communications, and corporate branding. Often, a master’s degree can also be used for teaching.