Is Public Relations a Good Major? [2021 Guide]
Is public relations a good major? Many students interested in public relations, communication studies, and media find that public relations majors can lead to rewarding and challenging careers.
Earning your degree in public relations can allow you to work across various sectors, from nonprofits and government agencies to private businesses. Careers in the field can be just as expansive.
Career opportunities in this field can include positions ranging from public relations specialist to employee relations expert, among others.
Is Public Relations a Good Major?
Yes, public relations is a good major for many undergraduate students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, media and communications careers are expected to grow 4% on average over the next several years.
Meanwhile, positions such as public relations specialist, public relations and fundraising manager, and market research analyst are expected to experience even higher growth at 7%, 9%, and 18% respectively.
While the median annual salary for all occupations is $41,950, the median salary for media and communications careers is much higher at $61,310 per year. For many careers in the field of public relations, the entry-level education required is a bachelors degree.
Earning your degree in public relations can allow you to pursue rewarding employment in a number of different industries. Industries with public relations opportunities can include business, government, nonprofit, education, marketing and advertising, and politics.
A career in public relations may also afford you the opportunity to branch out and start your own business, acting as a public relations consultant, fundraising consultant, or political consultant.
Public Relations Major Curriculum
As part of your bachelor’s in public relations education, you’re often required to complete a variety of courses in areas related to marketing, health communication, sales, media research, employee relations, or written and oral communication. Courses may include:
- Communication Writing
- The Development and Impact of Media
- Research Methods in Communication
- Media Management Strategies
- Business Fundamentals in Public Relations
- Professional Presentations
- Public Relations in Nonprofits
- Emerging Trends in Public Relations
- Media Law and Policy
- Corporate Crisis Management and Strategies
Other areas of study can include public relations coursework focused on politics, health, special events, or business. In some cases, depending on the school and program you choose to attend, you may have the opportunity to focus your studies on a particular area of public relations.
Top 5 Things You Can Do with a Public Relations Degree
A public relations degree can lead to opportunities in various entry-level and management positions across the field of PR. Common careers include public relations specialist, fundraising manager, market research analyst, writer, and advertising manager.
1. Public Relations Specialist
A public relations specialist plays an important role in managing the image of a business or individual. This could include writing and distributing press releases, handling image crises, and interacting with media on a regular basis.
PR professionals in this role can also go by other titles, such as publicist, communication specialist, or media specialist.
2. Fundraising Manager
Fundraising managers plan, develop, and execute fundraising strategies for businesses, including government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Responsibilities for this role can include grant writing, organizing events, managing staff, and meeting with donors. It can also be necessary to develop relationships with members of the community to spread awareness of the organization and increase donations.
3. Market Research Analyst
Public relations market research analysts engage in primary and secondary research to better understand opinions, trends, risks, and opportunities in relation to a particular business.
This can include research that aims to understand the value of existing marketing and PR strategies, to evaluate existing market conditions, and to compare your success to that of your competition. Research may also be geared toward understanding the public perception of a business.
Writers in the field of public relations may have the opportunity to take on a variety of projects, ranging from press releases to developing internal communications or social media posts.
In public relations, writing can also include authoring biographies, creating blog and newspaper articles, or drafting speeches. PR writers are needed across a variety of sectors, such as government agencies, nonprofits, and private businesses. Writers are also needed for political campaigns.
5. Advertising Manager
Advertising managers can be responsible for overseeing staff and orchestrating advertising projects for clients, departments, or entire businesses.
Their responsibilities can include supporting staff in the development of advertising campaign directions and ideas as well managing the finances of an advertising campaign. Advertising managers also ensure the effective implementation of an advertising strategy.
Public Relations Careers
A large number of public relations careers require a bachelors degree as the entry-level educational requirement.
Depending on your previous experience and additional education, you may qualify to pursue management and leadership positions or other advanced levels within the profession.
With additional education, such as a masters or doctorate in public relations, other career opportunities—such as professor, researcher, or chief executive—may be available to you.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of careers available to you with a bachelors in public relations. Across all media and communication occupations, the median annual salary is $61,310.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, Management Companies||$134,790|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$133,460|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, Educational Services||$105,750|
|Public Relations Specialists, Business and Similar Organizations||$68,610|
|Public Relations Specialists, Government||$67,590|
|Market Research Analysts||$65,810|
|Public Relations Specialists, Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services||$64,880|
|Writers and Authors||$67,120|
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners||$51,560|
A number of positions in the field of public relations are expected to see positive job growth over the next several years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These positions include advertising, promotions, and marketing managers (6% job growth), public relations specialists (7%), meeting, convention, and event planners (8%), public relations and fundraising managers (9%), and market research analysts (18%).
Additionally, careers in public relations can exist across various sectors and industries. This can include positions in government institutions, nonprofits, educational centers, finance and insurance companies, law offices, professional services, and political sectors.
Other industries can include arts, entertainment, religious services, transportation, and manufacturing.
How to Know If a Degree in Public Relations Is Right for You
If you’re interested in topics relating to communications, public relations, and media, then a public relations major may be the right degree path for you.
A degree in public relations typically requires you to develop and hone your skills relating to:
- Written communication
- Oral communication
- Critical thinking
- Conflict management
As a public relations student, you may also be exposed to topics on media management strategies, business fundamentals, and public relations in nonprofits. You may also study emerging trends in public relations, media law and policy, and corporate crisis management and strategies.
Is Public Relations a Good Career?
Yes, public relations is a good career field for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for public relations specialists is $62,810 per year. Professionals employed in business and professional services tend to earn more on average than those in government or educational services.
Working your way up to public relations manager may allow you to increase your earnings significantly, as PR managers earn an average of $118,430 per year.
Both PR specialist and management career paths are expected to experience job growth over the next ten years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that specialist positions will increase by 7% and management positions will increase by 9% over the same time period.
What Can You Do with a Public Relations Degree?
A public relations degree can help qualify you for various positions. Common careers in the field include advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, public relations and fundraising managers, public relations specialists, and market research analysts.
Some graduates with a degree in public relations also pursue careers as writers, authors, media and communication workers, or meeting, convention, and event planners.
What’s the Difference Between Public Affairs vs. Public Relations?
Public affairs and public relations are two separate disciplines and professional areas.
- Relates to public policy, policy management, advocacy, and community relations
- Areas of study include communication and policy, public opinion, economic relations, international relations, social policy, and environmental policy
- Relates to communication, media relations, corporate image, and business
- Areas of study include media management strategies, media law and policy, or business communication strategies
Public affairs deals with issues relating to a community while public relations handles issues of a business.
Is a Public Relations Degree Worth It?
Yes, a public relations degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that careers in the field of media and communications will experience 4% job growth over the next several years. Careers related to public relations are expected to see an even higher increase in career growth.
This includes positions like advertising, promotions, and marketing managers (6% job growth), public relations specialists (7%), meeting, convention, and event planners (8%), public relations and fundraising managers (9%), and market research analysts (18%).
Getting Your Degree in Public Relations Online
A degree in public relations online program can open the door to a number of flexible career options in various industries.
Common PR roles include public relations specialist, event coordinator, market researcher, and more. This rewarding field tends to have higher than average salaries, room for career advancement, and a positive job outlook.
If you’re interested in developing versatile skills in the realm of public relations, you can start your educational journey by exploring online PR degree programs from accredited schools.