What Is a Communications Specialist?
Communications specialists represent clients and act as liaisons between them and the public. They use their communications skills to reach out to target audiences on behalf of their clients in order to generate support, build positive reputations, and maintain beneficial relationships. These types of clients often include organizations such as businesses, nonprofit associations, hospitals, and educational institutions.
Communications specialists usually work in stressful environments where they face the pressures of tight deadlines and demanding assignments. Hours can vary and schedules must be flexible as this line of work may require one to travel frequently in order to attend meetings, coordinate community activities, and organize promotional events.
Communications specialists deal with a variety of organizational operations and are often responsible for things like conflict mediation, promotional materials, media relations, and event planning. Excellent communication skills are essential as these types of specialists must be able to write well, speak publicly, and easily interact with the press, contacts, and customers.
How to Become a Communications Specialist
Those who want to become a communications specialist should consider earning a college degree in communications, public relations, journalism, or marketing. These majors will help one develop strong communication, problem solving, research, and writing skills as well as learn about aspects of the job, like image development, media campaigns, promotional strategies, and press management.
Common courses in these types of majors include principles of advertising, public relations writing, copyediting and design, marketing management, and mass communications and society. Depending on the industry one wants to work in, courses in subjects like business administration, finance, psychology, sociology, and political science may also prove beneficial.
As the job of a communications specialist requires one to put their thoughts into action, it’s important to get some real-world training and hands-on experience. An internship in the area of communications will not only allow you to observe professionals in the field, but also give you the chance to exercise your own judgment and creativity.
Communications Specialist Career Outlook & Salary
Those who are interested in pursuing careers as communications specialists are in luck, as job growth is expected. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to increase by 24% within the next decade. This is due to the rising popularity of the use of social media in communications and a business environment that is becoming more globally competitive.
Typically, in this high-profile industry, there are more qualified applicants than open positions. Those who will stand out among the crowd and have the best chances of securing an entry-level job will have a communications-related degree and relevant work experience.
The Bureau reported that the median annual wages of these types of communications specialists was $51,280 in May 2008. The industries that employed the most communications specialists during that year included businesses, professional organizations, advertising services, management companies, and the local government.