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College Degrees to Become a Public Relations Specialist

written by: Natalia Brophy•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 12/17/2010

Did you know that many employers who are looking for a public relation specialist would actually prefer to hire someone with a degree other than PR? If you want to know why and find out much more about degrees to become a public relation specialist, read this article.

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    If the public relations field has always been appealing to you, you have probably already wondered about college degrees for a public relations specialist.

    Public relations specialists have an important task to represent their clients and organizations. Their main goal is to establish a good relationship between the public sector and the organization/client they are representing. While it may sound easy, working in public relations is a hard and often stressful work. Since a company’s reputation is often in the hands of their PR department, public relations specialists are not allowed to make mistakes, because they could be very pricey for their clients.

    Most companies prefer to hire PR specialists with at least a bachelor’s degree. Usually a degree in PR is not required, but employers prefer to hire those who have completed degrees in related fields such as Communication, Journalism, Marketing or Advertising.

    If you are one hundred percent sure that a career in public relations is the only choice for you, you may look for colleges which offer specific degrees in PR. However, since this degree is rather specific it may limit your college choices.

    Getting a degree specifically in Public Relations most likely is not going to increase your chances of getting hired. Employers are always looking for people who are well-rounded and have experience in more than one field. For example, if you were interested in working for a business company your chances of getting hired would be much higher if you had a degree in Business/Advertising with a concentration in PR rather that just a plain PR degree.

    College degrees for public relations specialist include but are not limited to:

    Journalism

    Communication

    Advertising

    Public Relations

    Public Affairs

    To increase your chances of getting hired, try getting an internship in a public relations related field and make sure you build a portfolio with articles, video presentations, newsletters you wrote or produced. If you want to work in public relations, it is a good idea to write for your college newspaper, so your portfolio is stronger.

    Now that you know everything about college degrees for public relations specialist lets talk about your potential earnings.

    Salaries in public relations vary greatly and depend on a number of factors such as what the highest level of your education is; where you live, which company you are going to work for and most importantly, how much experience you have.

    Some public relations specialists earn as little as 20K per year while others make more than 100K. The average PR salary is somewhere in the 40K – 50K range. To get a better idea how much you may earn check your local job listings and search the Internet for the numbers reflecting salaries in your area. Keep in mind though that these numbers will be approximate and you will not know how much you earn until you actually start working.

    Another big question that people ask about is the cost of getting a college degree for a public relations specialist or related field.

    Just like with salary, the costs vary greatly. If you are on a budget or/and don’t want to spend half of your life paying off your college loans, it is a better idea to go to a public school rather that private. The average tuition price for a 4 year public college is between $7,000 and $8,000 for in-state students. Private college tuitions vary greatly with an average in 2009 -2010 being over $26,000.

    To save even more money many students start their college education with a community college. Community college tuition is rarely more and usually much less than $4000 a year. Going to community college is a smart move not only because it is going to save you money, but also because you can get an additional degree, which will make you more marketable. For example, you could get an Associate’s degree in Communication or Advertising and then transfer to a 4-year college and get a Bachelor’s in Journalism or PR.

    Becoming a public relations specialist may be a long journey, but if this is your dream, this is certainly well worth it.

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    Sources used:

    College Board "What it Costs to Go to College" Dec. 13, 2010 <http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html>

    Lazarony Lucy, Bankrate.com, "College for Half Price" Jan. 11, 2008, Dec 13, 2010 <http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/CutCollegeCosts/CollegeForHalfPrice.aspx>

    MySalary.com "Public Relations Pay Scales". Dec. 13, 2010 <http://www1.salary.com/Public-Relations-Salaries.html>