Pros and Cons of a Career in Communications
There is a wide variety of communications-related careers for you to choose from, including careers in print and broadcast media. Consider the following pros and cons to determine if a career in communications is right for you.
|Radio and Television Announcer||Public Relations Specialist||Editor||Broadcast News Analyst|
|Career Overview||Present on-air or recorded news, sports, weather or commercials||Provide public communication for businesses and organizations||Plan, develop and edit content for various media||Research and report on broadcast news topics|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Program Length||4 years||4 years||4 years||4 years|
|Additional/Other Training||Some on-the-job training||On-the-job training||May need expertise for specialized subject matter||None|
|Experience||Experience in small markets||Entry-level||Writing/ reporting/subject matter experience may be necessary||Internship experience or experience working on college publications|
|Job Outlook for 2012-2022*||No growth (0%)||Average 12% growth||Declining -2% growth||Declining -2% growth|
|Mean Salary (2014)*||Roughly $44,000||Roughly $64,000||Roughly $64,000||Roughly $84,000|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Radio and Television Announcer
Radio and television announcers provide commentary for news, sports, weather or commercial programming. They may be required to research topics or read prepared scripts. On-air broadcasting can take place 24 hours a day, meaning your work may take place at any time. In recent years, a growth in Internet stations and demand for more local stations have tempered declines in traditional radio and television broadcasting.
According to the BLS, radio and television announcers usually need bachelor's degrees. Some postsecondary institutions offer communications programs with specialties in broadcasting. You can learn voice techniques and equipment and technology usage. Schools may have facilities and equipment to provide hands-on training. After acquiring employment, you may need to participate in some on-the-job training in order to learn the station's operations, equipment and policies.
Here are a few real job postings for announcers from November 2012 to provide examples of what employers are looking for:
- A Baltimore FM radio station seeks an on-air announcer to host a radio show and live events. Candidates need 3 years of on-air experience, some college-level broadcasting training and social media skills.
- A Mississippi radio station seeks an experienced announcer to report news and feature stories on local and regional affairs. Candidates need digital editing skills, keen news senses and bachelor's degrees.
- A Pittsburgh radio network affiliate seeks a part-time announcer. Successful candidates must possess big personalities and the ability to make the news fun.
Gaining real-world experience at your college's campus radio or television station can give a chance to enhance your skills. Working on a student newspaper can also help you improve your reporting and writing skills. Additionally, you can gain multiple internships at local radio and television stations in order to gain a broad range of professional experience. When entering the workforce, you can seek opportunities in small markets where you can develop your on-air personality and perfect your vocal skills.
Staying updated on the latest technology used in the field is crucial to remaining competitive in the industry. Familiarity with social networking and social media applications is also highly desirable by many employers.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations (PR) specialists serve the communication needs of a wide variety of businesses and organizations. A growing number of these professionals provide contract services for public relations agencies by writing press releases, establishing corporate images, preparing information for the media as well as developing and evaluating promotional campaigns. As businesses and organizations seek to increase their public profiles, connect with consumers and engage in community outreach, opportunities for public relations specialists should continue to expand.
Most PR specialists are required to possess bachelor's degrees in fields such as public relations, communications, English or journalism where you will strengthen your ability to write effectively for varying audiences and with strategic purposes. Public relations majors may learn how to develop campaigns, manage media relations and conduct public relations research. Many programs offer credit for professional internships. Once you obtain a position, you may undergo on-the-job training that can last 1-12 months, according to the BLS.
To help you gauge some of the requirements that employers look for, review the following job postings from November 2012:
- A California credit union seeks a social media specialist for strategy, brand awareness and online traffic generation. A bachelor's degree in business, marketing or communications and 1-2 years of social media experience is required.
- An international, non-profit organization in Illinois seeks a senior media relations specialist to develop and implement community outreach strategies. A bachelor's degree in public relations, journalism or communications and 1 year of professional experience in media relations is required.
- A California hospital seeks a public relations specialist to provide strategic planning, development and implementation of communication projects. A bachelor's in public relations, journalism or communications with 3 years of experience is required.
When researching PR degree programs, look for schools that offer practical learning experiences. You may find that some schools offer student-run PR agencies either through elective coursework or student clubs. You can also join the Public Relations Student Society of America, which offers several benefits like access to nationwide events, competitions and industry resources. Additionally, the PRSSA operates an online internship center where you can post your resume for employers looking for interns or search the database for internship opportunities. Since social media was expected to influence the PR industry greatly, according to the BLS, increasing your familiarity with social media applications can also be beneficial.
Professional editors are typically employed by online media companies and book, newspaper and magazine publishers. There are various types of editors, which can be based on a hierarchical formation. Each one can perform different duties, but in some organizations, one editor can perform all responsibilities. Examples of duties include reading manuscripts or articles, fact-checking and rewriting. They may also be involved with content planning, including story development and project assignment.
Most editors possess a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a field such as English, journalism or communications. Some editors may also need subject matter expertise for specialized publications. In general, editors need to be extremely detail-oriented and possess decision-making skills. Strong writing skills are crucial, and the BLS stated that many editors have writing or reporting experience. They must also be able to adhere to tight deadlines requiring work-schedule flexibility and long hours.
Here are a few requirements from November 2012 job postings:
- A newspaper based in New York seeks an assistant news editor with 5 years of experience to generate story ideas, assign stories, display copy and manage freelance reporters.
- An audio book publisher seeks a senior editor with a bachelor's degree in a related field and 5 or more years of content acquisitions experience for its New York or Michigan office.
- A Michigan newspaper seeks a sports editor who can shoot photos and write stories to cover local high school and college athletics.
While there are multiple options for majors that can lead to an editing career, consider pursuing one that includes editing coursework in its curriculum. For example, journalism programs are more likely to include editing classes than an English program.
While earning your degree, look for any opportunities to gain experience like working as an editor on your college's student paper. You can also seek out opportunities within the community, such as with non-profit organizations. If you're particularly interested in copy editing, you can join the American Copy Editors Society, which offers a student membership. You could gain access to the organization's mentoring program and receive discounted rates to a variety of industry conferences.
Broadcast News Analyst
Broadcast news analysts are similar to broadcast journalists except that they also provide their own interpretations on current affairs. They may write scripts and edit them to fit within the allotted time slots, and they often host news shows. According to the BLS, current trends indicate that news analysts are preferred over traditional journalist, and they have a higher outlook than reporters or correspondents.
Broadcast news analyst typically need training in journalism, broadcasting, communications or another field of expertise. According to O*NET Online, 75% of surveyed professionals earned bachelor's degrees. Some employers may prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees and professional experience in a specific field, such as economics or political science. The BLS reported that employers often require candidates to have either internship experience or experience working on their college's newspaper.
Here are some examples of what employers were looking for in news analyst candidates in November 2012:
- A broadcasting station in Texas sought a news anchor with exceptional reporting abilities and 5 years of experience as a television news anchor. Candidates must be comfortable with ad-lib, asking tough questions and using social media applications.
- A New Jersey television network seeks an experienced news anchor to produce and present stories and provide insight and perspective.
- A local television station in North Carolina seeks a broadcast news anchor to provide on-air reporting, including ad-lib and interviews. Successful candidates must possess a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications and 2 years of anchoring and reporting experience.
Beyond pursuing a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications, news analysts may also possess expert knowledge in specialized news topics, such as financial markets or politics. Consider adding a minor in a non-communications related field to your degree program to help you specialize. You can also gain expertise in a specific field through professional experience. Staying updated on regional, national and international current affairs in order to present insightful commentary is also helpful.