What Can You Do With a Communications Degree?
A communications degree is, as you may expect, all about learning how to communicate information effectively. Good communication is essential in just about every industry, helping to sell products to the public, maintain strong relationships with investors, clients and customers, and – not always as prominent but just as important – to make sure everyone within the business and outside are operating on the same page. Whether working among business executives or digital-age creatives, communication skills are very much sought-after, particularly in the modern world of business jargon, complex technologies and saturated markets.
A communications degree will allow you to build awareness of how to communicate information to diverse audiences effectively, with specific business goals in mind. Strong communication skills are invaluable in order to provide meaning and resonance to the companies’ aims, and to present the company and its services or products in the best (and clearest) possible way to consumers, clients and colleagues.
Often studied alongside media studies or journalism at undergraduate level, communications is also offered as a subject in its own right and can be taken further with a specialization at postgraduate level. Alternatively, you could start by studying communications at undergraduate level, before progressing to a master’s focusing on a field such as digital marketing.
So, what can you do with a communications degree?
Communications graduates have long been valued within businesses among human resources teams, helping to recruit, train and retain valued staff.
Careers you could pursue with a communications degree include:
Depending on the type of business your company conducts, there may also be room for communications graduates within customer- and client- facing departments such as public relations and marketing. In these roles you’ll likely be working to ensure your company is communicating effectively in all its marketing materials while maintaining a strong relationship with the public.
But careers in communications don’t stop there. Communications teams are also vital in a wide range of creative industries, including the fast-growing world of digital media, which in recent years has seen huge growth in the need for graduates with digital communication skills such as expertise with social media or web development. As the digital age continues its rapid advancement, so too do opportunities for communications graduates interested in new media careers.
For a closer look at some common and not-so-common jobs with a communications degree, read on!
Typical careers in communications
Here we look at a selection of more typical careers in communications; from HR departments to the world of advertising, discover the roles where your communication skills are most in need. If you’re interested in opportunities within digital and new media, take a look at the less typical communications careers further down.
With communications playing such a key role in any business or organization, a communications degree is a great way to enter the business world. Regardless of product or industry, entry-level communications roles will require you to demonstrate strong written and oral communication and presentation skills, along with knowledge of how a business functions across departments. There is also the potential for career development into executive, managerial and training roles after gaining some experience.
A key department of any large business, human resources is vital for developing and maintaining worker ethics, performance and motivation. Your role as a communications graduate is likely to be in providing the right information at the right time to the right people within the company. You may be involved in recruiting new staff, raising awareness about training or professional development programs, or ensuring company guidelines and regulations are clearly communicated. Communications careers in this area will benefit from an aptitude for nurturing relationships and communicating well with many different types of people.
Marketing, public relations and advertising are three more great answers to the question “what can you do with a communications degree?” In these related areas, communications graduates can be useful in delivering effective written and oral communication to consumers, colleagues or clients. This could be in the form of press releases, advertising scripts, company presentations and print campaigns, as well as attendance at media events and the ongoing development of professional relationships with clients and the media.
Media jobs with a communications degree are large in number – as you’d expect, since the main aims of the media sector are to communicate information and provide entertainment. Whether you’re interested in becoming involved with TV and film production, magazine and newspaper journalism, or online and digital channels, media careers all require graduates with excellent communication skills, and the ability to curate and disseminate information in engaging and relevant ways.
Media is, however, a very competitive industry, and it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that you will be hired by a big media corporation such as the BBC or the Huffington Post straight after graduation. Relevant work experience is essential, so those interested in entering the media world should consider undertaking internships or getting involved in student media productions while still studying, to increase their chances of getting a related role upon graduation. Those interested in journalism may also consider building a portfolio of their own journalistic work and/or gaining a relevant postgraduate degree.
Less typical careers in communications
What can you do with a communications degree if you don’t want to go into the typical careers outlined above? Read on for a selection of less typical jobs with a communications degree, from film producer to legal secretary. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list; communications graduates are sought-after in almost any industry you can think of!
The digital media industry is currently reshaping the way society consumes media and information. Online news sites, social networks and digital technologies are all areas of the industry continuing to expand, leading to significant increases in job opportunities for those with a combination of communication skills and digital proficiency. If you’re interested in a media career but concerned about the longevity of print media, digital media is the way to go! This expanding field incorporates careers in journalism, video production, web design, social media and online publishing, to name but a few – and more roles are appearing as technologies and audience behavior continue to evolve.
Although most people entering the legal industry do so with a postgraduate qualification or specialized law degree, communications graduates may be interested in pursuing administrative and organizational roles, working for local or national civil and criminal courts or even governmental and independent legal firms. For example, legal secretary roles and paralegal roles are often held by communications graduates. An undergraduate communications degree could also be a great starting point from which to apply to law school. However, if you do not wish to gain further qualifications there is a limit to your advancement in this industry, due to the requirements for roles such as a solicitor or barrister. Depending on the hiring company, however, there may be the possibility of gaining some additional qualifications while you work.
Another option is education, where your communication skills will certainly be needed daily! To be hired within primary or secondary education, you’ll need a teaching qualification. Depending on the country you want to work in, this will take at least a year to obtain. For tertiary education, at institutions such as colleges and universities, it is more likely that you’ll need a postgraduate qualification in a related specialization in order to teach.
‘What Can You Do With a Communications Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. We have also covered art, biology, business, computer science, English, engineering, fashion, finance, history, geography, law, marketing, mathematics, performing arts, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology, chemistry, economics and physics.
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This article was originally published in January 2015 . It was last updated in January 2020