Communication is not only a life skill to relate to and interact with others, but also the way to share and exchange ideas, stories, and important information. If you’re interested in a career that allows you to utilize your effective skills of relating to others in order to share important information, read on for how you can learn more about studying Communications in the U.S.
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Jump to:2-Year Degree 4-Year Degree Beyond a 4-Year Degree
You can begin your career in communications with a 2-year degree. Courses in a 2-year program can include psychology, public speaking, writing, introduction to mass comunication, sociology, speech communication, and computer & internet literacy. Depending on your concentration (mass communications, journalism, new media communications), there may be additional classes such as newspaper practicum, web design, photoshop, communication methods & culture, and digital photography. Math and english courses will also be part of these programs as well as a few courses related to psychology to understand people’s behaviors and what they respond to.
Entry level careers with a 2-year degree can include production assistant, communications specialist, or content editor.
Some schools have career maps to show you how you can progress from studying to working at the highest level in that career field. Here is a career map for new media communications.
Source: Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL, U.S.A.)
You can begin a career in communications with a 2-year degree and build up your career with experience, but a 4-year degree will help you define the specific pathway you would like to take. Programs can go by different names at different institutions; look for programs known as communications, mass communications, and digital communication & multimedia journalism. You can also find concentrated programs in broadcast program & production, advertising, film & new media studies, or broadcast news.
Courses will certainly vary depending on the career path you want to take. Based on a typical communications pathway to apply skills for corporations or organizations, courses can include introduction to communication; interview communication; organizational communication; public speaking; interpersonal communication; persuasion & media; intercultural communication; argumentation and debate; and group communication. Courses in a broadcast program can include public affairs reporting; media law & ethics; introduction to telecommunications; broadcast or TV news; writing for radio & TV; and news editing. Courses in a digital communication program can include web publishing, social media as mass communication, video storytelling, magazine article & feature writing, photojournalism, and infographics design.
Through these majors and program concentrations, you can become a professional speaker, TV/news reporter/anchor, digital news reporter/producer, public relations specialist, TV news producer, marketing manager/coordinator/director.
Beyond a 4-Year Degree
Having a master’s or doctorate degree will allow you to have an even further concentrated and highly specialized career, but is not necessary to work in communications. A majority of both a master’s and doctoral program will require you to conduct research, present a thesis or dissertation, and possibly participate in a hands-on experience such as a research project or practicum.
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The following are technical routes you can take to achieve a career in communications:
Jump to:Apprenticeships & Internships Vocational Training
Apprenticeships & Internships
Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and education while you work. This can look like working or volunteering with little experience but being trained to improve your skills. Not only are you learning the necessary job skills, but also the demands, hours, ways to interact with the public, procedures, and problems that usually arise on the job. This is an all-encompassing experience. Apprenticeship and internship opportunities in communications can be found through internet searches, networking, or through your school. These may exist at local media agencies such as newspapers, magazine companies, radio and television, or even government agencies.
If there is a business, organization, or person whose work interests you, ask them for the opportunity to intern or shadow them to learn more about the field and career. This is a great way to show your interest in the field and secure future opportunities to gain experience.
Similar to apprenticeships, vocational training provides hands-on learning experiences, but mostly through coursework. It is primarily schooling with an aspect of hands-on learning to teach the necessary skills and later put them into action in a classroom setting. You can find vocational programs at technical colleges. Technical colleges usually do not provide vocational training around communications, so look to internships or other volunteering to gain hands-on experience.
Try not to decline unpaid opportunities especially if you have no experience. Eventually, you may become a paid worker. Through volunteering, you are gaining valuable hands-on experience that can be recorded on your résumé/CV, and you are building a network that you can lean on once you’ve elevated in your career. Ask different departments on campus about job shadowing, internship, or volunteer opportunities on campus or in the surrounding community.
You can review the Minnesota State CAREERwise website to explore careers similar to urban development in the Arts, A/V Technology, and Communications career cluster. Here are more resources to learn more about careers in urban development:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Public Relations Specialists: Similar Occupations | Writers & Authors: Similar Occupations | Public Relations & Fundraising Managers: Similar Occupations | Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts: Similar Occupations | Producers and Directors: Similar Occupations | Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers: Similar Occupations
- Professional Associations: American Communication Association | American Marketing Association | Association for Women in Communications | Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management | National Communication Association | Public Relations Society of America
- Free Coursera courses: Introduction to Communication Science (University of Amsterdam)
Check with your institution of interest to find out more about their admissions application, program requirements, and the best way to map out your future for studying communications.
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Unsure about what Communications is? Read our explanatory post here.