Best Careers in Media and Communication
| Blake Huggins
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Whether you want to take center stage or work behind the scenes, a degree in media and communication can open up many media careers.
Media and communication professionals convey meaningful, captivating, or insightful information to their audiences, helping keep the public informed. Careers in communication are diverse, and talented communication professionals are in demand. Most pathways in the field require a bachelor's degree in communication or a related area.
This page explores available career tracks and some of the best jobs for communication majors.
Job Outlook for Media and Communication Professionals
The outlook for communication major jobs remains stable and will see increases consistent with other occupations nationwide. Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that media and communication occupations as a whole will grow by 4% from 2019-2029.
The fastest-growing careers in communication include roles in public relations, film and video, and broadcast sound. Translators and interpreters will see the highest demand, growing by a projected 20% from 2019-2029. Other roles will see less growth, such as careers in writing, editing, and broadcast news.
A media and communications professional typically needs a four-year degree to qualify for entry-level positions. Degree-holders can set themselves apart from the competition by earning master's degrees in communication to expand their professional scope.
Media and Communication Career Paths
Jobs for communication majors tend to be in media companies and organizations, but the communication field also has many facets and areas of opportunity that extend beyond traditional careers. A few are listed below.
In this area, professionals create public-facing media that support broader organizational goals. This can include advertisements, press releases, or public awareness campaigns. Corporate marketing jobs for communication majors include roles in market research, advertising and promotions, and social media management.
Both national and local news outlets rely on qualified communications and media professionals to convey important information to the public. This work includes creating broadcast news pieces, doing investigative reports, and writing articles for blogs and online media. News-related careers in communication may involve original reporting or developing high-level editorial strategy.
Nonprofit organizations hire communication majors to craft insightful messaging that can help convince their target audiences to support their causes. Common specialities include public relations and donor interaction, market research, and writing. Daily tasks include interfacing with media outlets and managing official communication channels.
Photographers communicate through images, whether in a fashion spread or a photo story for nonprofit work. Photography jobs can also include work in graphic design. Other photography-related communication major jobs might include animation, illustration, and other positions that use visual elements to convey important information.
Communication majors who work in radio and podcasting use the audio medium to elevate the spoken word and transmit informative or aesthetically pleasing material. Media work in radio includes writing scripts for ad spots or productions, developing productions or campaigns, and delivering content on air or through recordings.
Film and television careers in communications include both creative endeavors and more commercial or marketing-oriented roles. On the creative side, some jobs overlap with photography, like directing, producing, and video editing. The television and film industry also relies on media specialists to promote new and upcoming productions.
The Best Media and Communication Careers
We ranked the best careers in media and communication for 2021 using salary and projected job growth rate data from the BLS.
These media and communication specialists work to generate public interest in the products or services offered by their employers. They work with department heads or product managers, plan promotional campaigns, and often meet with clients to determine needs.
These professionals conduct market research to understand consumer desires and gain new audiences. A marketing manager usually holds a bachelor's degree in communications or marketing and has strong skills in analytical thinking, social perceptiveness, and creative problem-solving.
Art directors make high-level decisions on commercial or creative projects, including designing aesthetics and managing groups of artists or designers. They establish overall design principles and determine how to best convey a messaging through the given medium. They also approve layouts, design proofs, and coordinate other creative activities. Art directors need exceptional design sense and strong skills in communication. Employers typically require a bachelor's degree and substantial professional experience for this role.
These writers communicate complex information to a broad audience or user base in a digestible way. They make abstract information understandable by creating how-to guides, instruction manuals, white papers, and other user-friendly documents. Technical writers also ensure content uniformity across channels and incorporate visual aids when necessary. Most technical writers have bachelor's degrees in communication-related fields and are detail-oriented with strong writing and critical thinking skills.
Writers and authors typically hold bachelor's degrees in communication, English, or journalism, along with some professional experience. These professionals craft compelling and engaging content, often attracting their own audiences. Some focus on fiction, while others work with biographies, scripts, and long-form articles.
In advertising and marketing, writers create artful copy to engage new or potential customers. In journalism, they conduct investigative reporting to inform the general public.
Most editors come from a communication-related background and use their bachelor's degrees in English or journalism to oversee content production. They may manage groups of writers and often have professional writing experience. Typical tasks include revising content for publication, verifying sources and fact-checking, and setting policies related to style and tone.
Editors work with writers to develop content ideas with broader strategic aims. They need sound judgment, strong communication insights, and managerial skills.
Public relations specialists act as liaisons between clients and the general public. They craft and maintain their clients' public image and generate media to support that image, such as press releases, social media posts, and speeches. They also respond to media requests on behalf of their employers, often conducting targeted research to better understand or forecast public opinion.
Most public relations employers require a bachelor's degree and strong skills in communication, problem-solving, and organizational management.
These professionals create, manipulate, and assemble images and video content for music videos, documentaries, films and television, news broadcasts, and sporting events. They collaborate with directors and producers to determine and enhance aesthetic value.
In their day-to-day, editors and operators must select and use appropriate equipment or software tools, composing images that fit the overall vision or production. These professionals typically hold bachelor's degrees in media or communications and possess strong skills in creativity, design, and spatial awareness.
Graphic designers create visual media, either by hand or with software, in magazines, websites, advertisements, and other outlets. These professionals design layouts, create illustrations and original images, and present their work to current or potential clients. Some graphic designers specialize in specific forms of media or work with particular types of clients. These tech-savvy individuals need a relevant bachelor's degree and skills in art design.
Interpreters and translators convert information between languages, enabling clear lines of communication. These professionals can provide written translations or interpret the spoken word in real time, either verbally or in sign language. Interpreters and translators must be fluent in at least two languages and able to freely move between them. They typically possess bachelor's degrees and strong skills in listening and cultural sensitivity.
These journalists inform the public on current events. They research topics of general interest, analyze reports, and investigate stories based on editorial insights and leads. Reporters conduct interviews and convey their work through news articles and opinion pieces. Some of these professionals work in print media or broadcast news, but many write for online outlets. They need a relevant bachelor's degree, exceptional communication skills, and some professional experience.
Sound technicians support other media professionals, like journalists and news anchors, by ensuring that broadcasts maintain consistent quality. They operate audio equipment, record broadcasts, and monitor productions from behind the scenes. In post-production, these technicians synchronize sound and visual elements and convert recordings for easy consumption by the public.
A broadcast and sound engineering technician needs significant on-the-job experience in addition to a college degree. They also need hard skills in problem-solving, communication, and manual dexterity.
Announcers provide commentary for live performances and broadcasts by presenting and describing events in real time. These professionals work in radio and television, broadcast news, sports, and podcasting, where they read prepared scripts and provide commentary on current events or important news developments. Most employers require a relevant bachelor's degree, strong speaking and analytical skills, and some professional experience.
Photographers produce compelling images that tell a story, sell an idea, or narrate an event. They work closely with art directors and graphic designers to determine the type of image required and how it will be implemented. They analyze settings for shoots and edit images to meet client needs.
Professional photographers need clear artistic abilities, a good eye for composition, and strong interpersonal skills. While photographers gain experience on the job, it's also common for roles in photojournalism to require a bachelor's degree.
How Should "Best" Be Determined?
"Best" is a difficult superlative to quantify, and it can mean different things depending on context and circumstance. To identify the career that best aligns with your personal and professional goals, consider the key factors, like salary and demand.
For example, if you have a family, commuting time and the work/life balance may be major factors in determining what is "best." Meanwhile, a socially minded person may emphasize sustainability and potential impact on the environment in their decision-making process.
Is Media and Communication Right for You?
Launching a career in communications and media can be lucrative and fulfilling, but it is not for everyone. Prospective students should assess their own interests and skill sets before making a final decision. Consider the following advantages and challenges of the field.
Resourceful, creative, and detail-oriented individuals who thrive in fast-paced work environments are ideal candidates for careers in communication. Professionals in this field need strong marketing, interpersonal, and communication skills.
If you want to work in radio, for example, you'll need exceptional oral communication skills and the ability to think and move quickly on your feet. On the other hand, if you plan to work in journalism or news production, you will need strong research and writing skills.
Jobs for communication majors require professionals to remain well informed and highly attuned to current events. These roles also offer flexibility in where and how you can work, and they allow individuals to consistently use their creative skills.
A fast-paced and demanding working environment can present some challenges. Careers in communication often involve strict deadlines that can be mentally and physically stressful. For example, sitting at a desk for extended periods of time to churn out the latest article or press release can be quite taxing.
Media and communications professionals enjoy some flexibility in their work, but they also often log long or irregular hours, as dictated by the demands of the job. In instances like broadcast news, this could require significant travel, especially as a field correspondent. You may need to remain on call to make edits, write new pieces, or capture images, which can make work/life balance difficult to maintain.
Pros and Cons of Working in Media and Communication
New and recent graduates considering careers in communication can use the following list of pros and cons to help with the decision-making process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Media and communication is a diverse, wide-ranging industry that includes roles handling visual communications, written text, and the spoken word. It also includes a variety of industries, like radio, television, and online media.
Yes. Media and communications degree-holders remain in demand across the board and rank among majors with the highest earnings after graduation.
According to PayScale, bachelor's-level communications majors earn an average salary of $61,600 per year — much higher than the average for all occupations nationwide.
Blake Huggins is a Boston-based writer and researcher with roots in north Texas and southern Oklahoma. He holds degrees in religion and philosophy and writes widely on higher education, healthcare, and the humanities broadly conceived. He earned a PhD from Boston University and has taught college courses in philosophy, writing, and composition.
Header Image Credit: Luis Alvarez | Getty Images
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