Some college degrees translate directly into jobs in the workforce. If you earn a degree in engineering, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be an engineer. Other degrees don’t have the same one-to-one relationship with jobs in the workforce. Instead, these degree programs provide students with the necessary skills to work in a wide array of fields. In many respects, a degree in public relations or communications fits these criteria; although you don’t necessarily need a PR degree to work in a public relations field, it can be extremely helpful. It’s also a useful degree for a variety of other careers.
What Is a Communications or PR Degree?
A degree in communications or public relations is designed to help you communicate with the public at large. Depending on your university, PR may be completely separate from Communications, or the two majors may overlap significantly. Your degree will likely teach you some things about human psychology and methods of communication. It will also arm you with the necessary skills to act diplomatically in a wide variety of situations.
In terms of practical skills, a PR degree will teach you how to write press releases and connect with the media. You’ll learn how to smooth over misunderstandings and deal with public relations disasters, and you’ll also learn how to put your client or company in the best possible light.
Because PR skills are so specific, most graduates will need to complete an internship in the field of their choice. Although you can move from one type of position to another, it may help you if you can start with an internship in whatever field interests you the most. For example, finding a government internship will help if you plan to work in PR for a politician, but starting with a business might be a better fit if corporate PR is more your style.
What Can You Use a Communications or PR Degree For?
Communications and public relations degrees are more flexible than you might realize. Here are a few career options for graduates:
— Work for an Agency
Various types of talents need agents, from sports stars to actors and novelists. Your job as an agent is to promote your client in the best possible light and sell his or her product, service or talent. Depending on your interests, you might find a match with a specific type of agency. Be prepared to go through an internship process under an established agent, but afterwards you may be able to work there or find a job on your own.
— Do Marketing Communications, Corporate Communications or PR for a Private Company
Most businesses need someone who can handle public relations, and you might be able to find a well-paying job close to home simply by asking around at local businesses. If there’s a company you already appreciate, you might want to approach them directly and show how passionate you are about their brand. If it’s a small company, you may need to do additional duties such as clerical work if they don’t have a designated position for PR.
— Offer Freelance Services
You don’t have to work for a specific company in order to benefit from your communications or PR degree. Once you’ve established some experience in the field, you can start your own business and offer consultation services or contract yourself out to do PR work for businesses, non-profits, politicians and anyone else who needs your assistance.
Should I Get a PR Degree?
Although a public relations degree is a great way to learn the theoretical and practical aspects of public relations, it’s not a necessary requirement to enter this field. It’s possible to work in a PR job with a different degree as long as you have the necessary skills and experience.
Other majors that offer similar skills to PR include English and Communications. If you have a particular area of interest, you may also want to consider a double major or minor in that field. For example, a literary agent would do well with a degree in literature and PR; a PR employee for a politician may want a political science degree. Depending on your ambitions, you may even wish to major in one field and only take a few PR classes for practical knowledge.
Ultimately, the best degree program is one that furthers your education and career goals while providing you with a challenging and enjoyable workload. If you find that you like the idea of working in PR but don’t like the classes, consider majoring in something else related to your field and work on getting practical on-the-job experience. This may help to increase your satisfaction and set you on the path for your future career.