Is a Communications Degree Worth It? Examining the Pros & Cons

FT Contributor
A graduate in a cap and gown holds up her communications degree.
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There used to be a stigma against getting a communications degree, enough to make you wonder if the degree is worthless. Christina Berchini of the Huffington Post doesn’t think so. “In my experience,” Berchini says, “the communications major opens the doors to creativity in a way that many other majors simply do not.”

Communications is rapidly becoming one of the most attractive majors available to college students today, and here is why:

The Benefits of a Communications Degree

Career Possibilities in a Wide Range of Fields

When determining what major to choose, first ask yourself: “What can I do with a communications degree?” With a communications degree, you can pursue several different career fields, such as:

  • Administration: These jobs involve organization and planning; you could take on a variety of roles, including community relations director, office administrator, fundraising manager, and event manager.
  • Business: This is one of the most popular career paths, enabling you to assume positions such as market research analyst, interpreter, or real estate agent.
  • Human Resources: A human resources manager, or HR manager, is an integral role in any business, so this is a field that offers excellent opportunity and job security. You could also use your communications degree for a job as a training manager, benefits coordinator, or employee development manager.
  • Law: A career in law is not just limited to lawyers. Your communications degree can also help you earn a paralegal position, or it could serve as an excellent foundation for law school.
  • Marketing: Marketing is more popular than ever and there are several high-paying marketing jobs you could pursue, such as an advertising executive, brand manager, or social media content creator.
  • Media: A communications degree can lead to a prominent career in journalism and broadcasting as a report, editor, producer, or even a media planner.
  • Politics: Domestic and international relations may begin with a communications degree. You can pursue a career as a political consultant, lobbyist, foreign service officer, or a political campaign contributor.
  • Public Relations: Mass communications is a popular area offering careers such as a public relations director, corporate communications specialist, press secretary, copywriter, and copy editor. Account executive is also a popular career option.

While you may not be able to get a job as a mathematician or engineer with a communications degree, there are many career fields offering positions that are very relevant to a communications focus.

Establishing Your Professional Network

Without college, you may be able to learn the basics of communications, but you could fail to create the professional network that potentially comes with a college communications degree.

While you explore a four-year degree, you will have opportunities to create new relationships that can become lifelong partnerships. According to the American Psychological Association, “At its heart, networking is about building and maintaining relationships with people which may lead to a mutually beneficial exchange at some point in the future.”

College is the time to make these relationships because you have the opportunity to meet like-minded peers, professors, and mentors who can aid you in your career.

Costs of Getting a Degree in Communications

Average Cost of a Communications Degree

The cost of college is enough to deter even the most motivated of students.

Here are the average costs of a communications degree from an out-of-state university:

  Average Total Cost Per Year Average Total Cost for Degree
Associate Degree $31,402 $62,804
Bachelor’s Degree $45,239 $180,956

Sallie Mae reports that the average out-of-pocket cost of a master’s degree in 2017 was about $25,000 per year.

If your degree helps you find a good job, it really can pay off.The 2018 median pay for a marketing manager equaled nearly $135,000 each year. That means you could feasibly pay off your four-year college tuition in just two years with a high-paying management role.

Meanwhile, professionals with a communications degree will enjoy continued demand, with projected job-growth of 8% until the year 2028.  

How Long Does It Take to Get a Communications Degree?

A typical bachelor’s degree in communications takes about four years to complete, while a master’s degree requires two more years. A bachelor’s degree takes longer because it includes generalized studies, while a master’s degree is an in-depth study of your specific niche.

You can expect your coursework to include interpersonal relations, professional communications, mass media, and social networking.  

Many stop at just a bachelor’s degree, but still, you may be asking, “Is a masters in communications worth it?” For some careers, a master’s degree may not only be preferred, it may be required.

Positions within the legal field may require you to have a master’s degree in order to prove your mastery of the intricacies of law. Higher-level positions, such as a director of marketing or senior market research analyst, offer plush titles and pay for master’s degree-holding applicants.

Examples of Communications Positions

There are many different communications majors you can pursue, so you might be wondering which program is best.

You likely also want to know how much communications majors make, but it depends on your career path.

Before you decide on the concentration of your communications degree, it could help to examine your skill set from an employment perspective that assesses your soft and hard skills. What jobs can you get with a communications degree, and which one is right for you?

Here are the most popular positions in the communications field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Business Executive

A business executive is an individual dedicated to the strategic operations of a company. This career usually requires a bachelor’s degree, but higher education could pay off, with some chief executives making well over $200,000 per year.

Human Resources Manager

A career as a human resources manager can be very lucrative, too, with the 2018 median annual wages for this role topping $110,000. In this role, you are responsible for the creation and implementation of policies affecting a business and its employees.

Public Relations Manager

The salary for a public relations manager, or PR manager, also tops $110,000 a year. Companies turn to PR professionals to handle their image and grow their brand. Positions often require a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is required in some cases.

Marketing Executive

A marketing executive position typically requires a bachelor’s degree before you can move to an agency or company. The median annual wage for a marketing manager was nearly $135,000 in May of 2018.

Paralegal and Legal Assistants

Life in the legal field is very lucrative, with most paralegals and legal assistants making almost $50,000 with just an associate’s degree or specialized certification. Many people in these positions further their studies to later become an attorney of law.

With plenty of positions paying over $100,000 per year, it becomes far easier to resolve student debt with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in communications.

Communications is a multi-faceted degree that comes into play across every industry in one capacity or another. If you apply yourself and work hard to find a career you love, a communications degree.may very well be worth it.

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