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Obtaining an online degree in communications can open doors to careers in a wide range of fields. Communication majors study mass media, technical communications and advertising.
An online communications degree focuses on how people interact and communicate with one another. Prior to the digital age, communication degree programs were limited to the study of verbal interactions and communication in traditional print mediums such as newspapers.
What Kind of Online Communications Degree are There?
A communications degree can prepare you for work in a wide variety of fields, including business, politics, publishing, advertising, and mass media. It’s such a broad area of interest that many people choose to specialize in it.
What specialties can you learn? It depends on your degree program. Some concentrations are offered as majors or minors; others can put you on track for licenses or certificates in a particular field.
The general field of communications is known simply as “communications” or “communication studies.” It’s a social science that can cover everything from public speaking to media marketing, and it’s designed to give you an all-around education in the subject.
A general communications degree is most useful to students who want to be a jack of all trades. Instead of going into a niche field, you can keep your options open with a more flexible, expansive education. a general communications degree can also serve as a foundation for future study.
For example, you might spend your first few semesters as a general communications major before you decide on a concentration, or you might obtain a bachelor’s degree in general communications before advancing on to your masters in communication.
A communications degree can also be paired with a major or minor in a related field. If you’re going into business, you might benefit from an MBA that’s supplemented with communications courses.If you’re interested in politics, you might enjoy communications mixed with sociology, political science, or global affairs.
Film and Video
Are you drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood? A communications degree can help you land a number of jobs in the film industry.
This is a highly competitive industry, so you might want to boost your resume with other credentials to stand out.
You’ll also need to build special skills for your desired job, especially if it’s something technical. You won’t become an animation designer with an online communications degree alone!
Graphic communication is a specialty that focuses on images and illustrations. It’s similar to graphic design, and indeed, some graphic designers major in graphic communication.
However, graphic communication isn’t limited to the digital world. It can also be applied to “traditional” print media such as billboards, magazines, newsletters, brochures, and product packaging. It can also involve data and research instead of being a strictly creative position.
Wages for graphic communication can vary. While starting salaries can be as low as $30.810 per year. experienced workers can triple that and take home around $89,210 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
A lot can depend on your job title, too. An art director supervising an entire department earns more than a web design intern who is on the bottom of the totem pole.
However, even a low-paying job can transition into something more lucrative, so that’s something to consider when you’re thinking about a graphic communication career.
The medical industry might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a communications degree, but health communication is a thriving industry.
For example, jobs for health educators are expected to grow by 13% in the next decade, and that’s much faster than the usual 4-6%.
What are some other health communication jobs? They can range from content creators for a medical clinic to public relations representatives for a government-funded health organization.
Doctors need to communicate with the public just like any other working professional, and they need to inform, advertise, and announce things.
This is where health communicators come in. Speaking very generally, you can say that their job is to facilitate communication between the healthcare industry and the general public.They provide a valuable service to their field, so if you’re looking for meaningful, long-term work with a communications degree, consider health communication.
International business is a separate major from communications, but there’s a lot of crossover between the two, especially for students who are considering a career in business, marketing, global affairs, or political science.
Typical courses include things like finance and economics. Typical jobs include managers, product planners, operation supervisors, and logistics specialists.
You might work for a specific company and help them launch new products and services in a different country. You might work for an international agency that liaises between companies, governments, and travel bureaus to ensure that all laws are followed.
If you’re familiar with a particular country, you might even find a job as a cultural advisor.
If you’re interested in how business is done on a global scale, consider a dual major in communications and international business. It probably won’t be easy, but it can be a challenging career that keeps you on your toes.
Journalism is a common career path for communications majors. It combines writing, editing, and researching with exciting investigative work and the potential for fame and fortune. Who wouldn’t be drawn to it?
Despite the popular image of journalists, however, there are other jobs in the field besides the flashy ones. For example, you could work behind the scenes as an editor, researcher, or copywriter, or you could get a day job as a reporter or news anchor.
Journalism is a large, ever-changing field, especially in the digital age. It has a lot of potential for people who enjoy this type of work.
Public relations (PR) is another industry with many jobs under its umbrella. You’re probably most familiar with celebrity publicists, but you can also find work for companies, colleges, charities, sports agencies, and government institutions.
Another nice thing about public relations is that there are jobs available at every level of experience. Recent graduates can become assistants and interns; more experienced workers can climb the corporate ladder until they’re managers, directors, senior analysts, and public spokespeople.
Wages for PR work will vary. The median salary is around $16,150 per year but there’s a big difference between the highest earners and the lowest earners.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the former makes around $115,430 on average, while the latter makes around $34,590 on average. The very top earners are in places like District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, and they can take home as much as $109,390 annually.
You don’t have to stand in front of a microphone to be a communications major. Communication comes in many forms, including writing.
Some writers become journalists. Others become teachers, editors, publishers, or content creators. Some writers are freelancers who enjoy dabbling in different subjects; others concentrate their efforts in particular fields for legal writing or medical writing.
If you have a knack for the written word, you might like a career as a writer or author. It’s worth around $63.200 per year on average (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and that salary can climb to $ 72.850 if you’re willing to specialize.
Courses for an Online Communications Degree
An online communications program is pretty similar to a traditional one. You can typically take the same classes as your peers, and you can learn the same skills. The basic areas of study are unchanging. Here are some common communication courses:
Public Speaking: Public speaking can be a vital skill for people with jobs that involve communicating with the public. It’s a little harder to learn from an online course as opposed to a classroom-based course, but it’s possible with audio and video technology.
Communication Research Methods: Communication research is the art of studying, organizing, analyzing, and reporting on research data related to communications. If you want to learn about the efficiency of focus groups or the impact that press releases can have on a scandal, you’ll need communication research to do it.
Mass Media: The media can be one of your biggest tools in a communications career. It can also be one of your biggest challenges. A course in mass media or media relations can prepare you for the challenges of print, radio, television, newspaper, and film.
Organizational Communication: If you plan to work for a company, organizational communication can help you understand the ebbs and flows of information within a system. How does it travel between departments and networks? What communication channels should you expect in a corporate setting?
Digital Media: These courses can take many different forms, but they’re all focused on teaching you about the digital world. From the math of search engine algorithms to the effect of social media on public relations, they’re designed to help you understand the role that technology can play in a communications career.
What Can I Do with a Communications Degree?
You will have plenty of options with a communications degree. Not only can it teach you valuable skills that can be applied to many different industries, but it can also qualify you for a number of jobs within those industries:
Communication majors can become everything from sales reps to managers. You can also specialize in something like human resources (HR) or public relations (PR) to have niche, in-demand skills in the business world.
If you are gifted with the power of persuasion, a communications degree can help you become a media planner, promotions manager, social media strategist, or market research analyst. You can find work as both a creative and a data-oriented numbers person.
Politics and communications go hand in hand. There are even special degree programs for political communication that can prepare you for things like debates, speeches, and elections.
Do you dream of becoming a reporter, announcer, journalist, or news correspondent? Would you love working as a translator or interpreter? A communications degree can open doors in these fields.
A communications degree can get you started in a writing or researching career. Just know that you might need additional qualifications if you want to become something like a teacher or editor.
How Much Can You Make with an Online Communications Degree?
According to the Bureau media and communication jobs have an average salary of $59,230 per year. However, this can fluctuate depending on your exact title, industry and skill set.
Marketing director ($136,850)
Public relations manager ($116,180)
Marketing coordinator ($74,510)
Digital producer ($74,420)
Technical writer ($72,850)
Content strategist ($66,340)
Media planner ($64,230)
Public relations specialist ($61,150)
Reporter or correspondent ($53,410)
Interpreter or translator ($51,830)
Another factor to consider is how long you’ve worked at your job. For example, journalists earn $46,270 on average, but more experienced journalists can earn $75,920 or more.
This pay scale isn’t a guarantee, of course, but broadly speaking, more experience will earn you more money.
Professional Organizations for Those with a Communications Degree
There are many benefits to joining a professional organization in your chosen field. Not only can they provide a lot of resources for students, but they can also help you stay on the cutting edge of research and industry developments once you’ve landed a job.
1. American Advertising Federation (AAF): With hundreds of chapters and thousands of members, the AAF is a large, multi-discipline organization for everyone in the marketing industry. You might recognize its most famous endeavor, the American Advertising Awards. It also provides plenty of resources for both personal and professional development.
2. American marketing association (AMA): The AMA offers its members all kinds of lectures, workshops, boot camps, academic journals, product discounts, job boards, and training programs. You’ll need to pay dues, but there’s a special rate for students, including a group student rate, if you want to apply with a club or study group.
3. Public relationship society of America ( PRSA): The PRSA is one of the largest organizations of its kind. It offers different “tiers” of membership depending on your level of experience, so students will pay less than first-year associates, and first-years will pay less than second- or third-years.
4. Society of professional journalists (SPJ): If you’re interested in a journalism job, the SPJ can help with everything from career development to advocacy opportunities. There’s even an online job center with fresh posts every day, so you can stay apprised of the latest openings in your particular field.
Consider joining one of these organizations as a student to augment your education and provide job internships or job opportunities as graduation approaches.
Accreditation for an Online Communications Degree
You’ll want your communications degree to come from an accredited university. Employers expect it, and financial aid depends on it. The easiest way to find an accredited degree program is to run a search through an accrediting board.
You can also lookup individual colleges and check their accreditation. If they’re a legitimate institution, they should volunteer the information freely and be accredited a regional board.
Financial Aid for a Bachelor’s in Communications
If you can’t afford am online communications degree on your own, that’s okay. Financial aid can help.
- Grants are free money that you don’t have to pay back. One of the most common is the Pell Grant, which is issued by the FAFSA).
- Loans are borrowed from an institution and will need to be repaid. FAFSA offers both subsidized and subsidized loans, and you can also take out loans from banks and other private lenders.
- Scholarships can be issued by schools, employers, academic foundations, and industry organizations. If you’ve already picked a major, look for companies that offer scholarships in that particular field.
- Tuition reimbursement is offered by a company to its employees. Some will pay for any major, while others will want the student to be studying something related to their job.
- Work-study programs are offered by schools to help offset the costs of education. You can still qualify for them as an online student, but you’ll need access to the campus to actually go to work.
An important thing to note about financial aid is that it isn’t always “need” based. Even if you make too much money to qualify for low-income grants and scholarships, you might still be eligible for merit-based awards or industry-specific loans.