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What can I do with a degree in communications?

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The ability to understand subtle signals and communicate more effectively is one benefit of earning a degree in communications, particularly as it relates to employability and workplace effectiveness. The soft skills learned as a communications major can help graduates find work in a wide range of positions, including some of the fastest growing occupations in the country.

Salary info for graduates with a degree in communication

According to Payscale, an online salary, benefits and compensation information company, a degree in communication may not pay off immediately after graduating, but has the potential to become quite lucrative:

  • Recent graduates with a degree in communications earn an annual median of $42,100 per year
  • Graduates with a degree in communications and some workforce experience earned a median annual salary of $72,300

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), media and communication occupations reported an average national full-time median wage of $54,780 in May 2016.

Industries and careers for communications majors

Here are the occupations that had the highest average pay for communication majors in 2016, according to the BLS :

  • Technical Writers: $73,160
  • Writers & Authors: $71,920
  • Public Relations Specialists: $66,540
  • Editors: $66,080
  • Camera Operators: $63,200

Marketing and public relations careers are among the hottest available to communications and journalism graduates in 2016, according to BLS data. Market research analyst positions are expected to experience 23 percent job growth between 2016 and 2026 — a rate much faster than average — and the ability to clearly communicate the results of a market analysis can help a candidate land one of those emerging positions.

The median annual salary recorded for market research professionals was $62,560 in 2016, although salary expectations vary based on experience and location. Here are the five states that paid the highest 2016 mean annual salaries to market research analysts:

  1. California: $80,560
  2. Delaware: $79,280
  3. Washington: $79,190
  4. Massachusetts: $79,030
  5. Texas: $78,440

Although they're not growing as fast as positions in market research, the BLS reports that writer and author jobs are still on the rise and tend to be most accessible to graduates with a bachelor's degree in communications, English or journalism. Job growth of 8 percent is expected between 2016 and 2026, with most positions focusing on content development for books, magazines, newspapers, Web properties and advertising firms.

Washington D.C. was the highest paying state for writers and authors in 2016, offering an average yearly salary of $97,970. California and New York, ranked high on the list also, with reported yearly wage figures of $95,920 and $83,060, respectively. The 2016 median annual salary in the profession was $61,240, and that year's top 10 percent of writers nationwide earned $118,640 or more.

For communications graduates who specialized in the "soft skills" of interpersonal awareness and emotional literacy, a career as a human resource manager could be the sleeper hit career of the year. Uncommon insight in recruiting, interviewing, screening and placing new hires within an organization is a rare and valuable talent, and exceptional HR managers can command impressive salaries at the upper end of the national range.

The BLS reports a median annual salary of $106,910 for HR managers in 2016, with the top 10 percent taking home more than $193,550. New York, Washington, D.C. and Rhode Island, were reported as the highest paying regions for HR managers that year, each offering average annual wages of $147,000 or higher.

For more information on potential careers for communications grads, and a full list of sources, check out the visual below.

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What Can I Do With a Degree in Communications?
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