Salary Outlook with a Public Relations Degree

By Henry R. Steele - December 7, 2017
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Earning a degree in public relations offers professionals the opportunity to excel in many desirable careers and earn a good salary. With solid public relations skills, it is possible to work as the public face of many organizations in industries that vary from private to public to nonprofits. Public relations professionals are frequently the cornerstones of these organizations and how they relate to the public.

The level of salary that you can earn with a public relations degree will depend upon several factors:

  • Whether you earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in public relations
  • The type of public relations career path you choose
  • Your years of experience in public relations
  • The industry in which you work

Level of Public Relations Degree

The first important factor for your salary level with a public relations degree is the level of the degree. Research has shown over time that obtaining a master’s degree can net you a higher salary for most of your career. A Georgetown University study from 2015 determined that the average salary for a bachelor’s degree holder was $61,000 and was $78,000 for a master’s degree holder. This is a salary increase of $17,000.

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS has found that the median salary for workers with a master’s degree in 2013 was $68,000 and $56,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Payscale.com also reports that the average salary for public relations professionals with a bachelor’s degree is as follows for these jobs:

  • Marketing coordinator: $40,300
  • Marketing manager: $54,800
  • Marketing specialist: $46,800
  • Account coordinator: $33,500

For a master’s degree, these are the average salaries according to Payscale.com:

  • Marketing manager: $61,000
  • Communications manager: $77,400
  • Marketing coordinator: $44,400
  • Public relations manager: $58,300
  • Marketing communications manager: $60,200

Salary.com reports that the average salary for a public relations manager with a bachelor’s degree is $101,000, and with a master’s degree it is $105,000.

Interested in a Public Relations Degree? Follow These Job Tips

If you are interested in a public relations career, getting a public relations degree is a good first step. But you can also make your career thrive with these pointers:

  • Personality matters: You do not have to know everything about public relations when you first start in the field. But when you get a job in the field, the company will want to see that you are enthusiastic, ready to learn and smart. This means that you should have a dynamic personality and be able to communicate effectively. These traits will always help you, but they are really important when you do not have as much experience and knowledge. If your boss cannot imagine you making a phone call with a reporter or talking effectively with a client, it can be hard to do well in this career.
  • Get an internship: Many people who hire public relations professionals report they will usually choose people who have relevant internship experience. School will teach you a great deal, but there is nothing more important in PR than on the job experience. Being successful in PR requires you to be able to multitask and to be able to think on your feet. Having a track record in these areas from internship experience means a lot.
  • Other degrees can work: Having a public relations degree is important, but it it possible to be successful in PR with a marketing degree, English degree or even an economics background.
  • Be ready for the interview: If you want to get a public relations job, you should come to the interview ready. Do homework about the company you are interviewing for so that you can ask intelligent questions, and be able to sell the interviewer on your strengths.

Types of Public Relations Career

A major factor in your compensation level is the type of occupation that you choose in the PR field. There are many jobs that have something to do with public relations, and the salary will vary quite a bit based upon your choice. Below are some common jobs and salaries that you can have with this degree.

Public relations specialist

A public relations specialist is responsible for creating and maintaining a favorable public image for the entity or person they represent. They are responsible for designing press releases and social media campaigns to provide a positive public perception of the entity or person. They also are in charge of increasing awareness of the person, entity or goals of the company. These professionals may also be referred to as communications specialists or media specialists, and generally handle the communications with the public, such as consumers, investors, reporters and other stakeholders. See also Salary Outlook with Masters in Communications Degree.

The median salary for public relations specialists in 2016 was $58,000 with a range of $32,000 to $110,500.

Public relations and fundraising manager

A public relations manager is responsible for planning and directing the creation of materials that maintain or boost the image of the client or employer. Fundraising managers are responsible for coordinating campaigns that bring in donations to various types of organizations.

Public relations managers are in charge of clarifying the point of view for their organization, typically done through interviews and press releases. In a larger company the PR manager may be the supervisor for several PR specialists. They also will work closely with marketing and promotions managers to ensure that ad and social  media campaigns are related to the image that they want to give to the public.

Fundraising managers are largely in charge of the types of fundraising campaigns are used to raise money. Some of the most common methods today include annual campaign drives, capital campaigns, planned giving and making cold calls for major financial gifts. Social media also has led to many new paths for raising money that fundraising managers need to be able to take advantage of.

BLS reports the median salary for PR and fundraising managers was $107,300 in 2016, with a range between $59,000 and $205,000.

Other related professionals and their salaries in the PR field include:

  • Advertising sales agents: Sell advertising to individuals and businesses. Responsible for contacting potential clients, making sales pitches and maintaining accounts for clients: $50,300.
  • Advertising, promotions and marketing managers: Plan promotions and programs to increase interest in a variety of products and services. They often work closely with sales agents, art directors and finance professionals: $127,500.
  • Corporate communications manager: In charge of management of the communication efforts of a company. Must review and approve statements by the organization and develop partnerships with other organizations to further the objectives of the company: $77,300.
  • Market research analysts: Study the conditions of the market to determine what the possible sales of a new product or service could be. They assist companies in learning the type of products that people want and the price they are able to pay: $62,500.

Work Experience

As with most occupations, the level of experience you have in public relations will influence your salary level. For example, Payscale.com reports that a public relations manager will have a $51,000 average salary with less than five years of experience. With 5-10 years of experience, this salary will be at an average of $68,000, and for 10-20 years of experience, the salary level is $76,000. However, for professionals with more than 20 years of experience, the average salary falls to $75,000.

For a public relations specialist, the average salary for five years of experience is $42,000, and $53,000 with 5-10 years of experience. For those with 10-20 years of experience, the average salary is $58,000, and for more than 20 years, the salary is $60,000.

Industry

The last major factor that can determine your salary level in public relations is the industry in which you work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can have these types of salaries for public relations and fundraising managers based upon industry or sector:

  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $133,700
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $125,900
  • Educational services: $100,000
  • Religious organization: $99,200

For public relation specialists, the salary level by industry is as follows:

  • Government: $62,400
  • Business, labor, political and professional organizations: $60,200
  • Advertising, PR and related organizations: $59,400
  • Educational services: $53,800

Also keep in mind in the PR world that there are agency positions and in house positions. This can lead to different salaries. For example, here are some PR agency position salary ranges based upon information from Paradigm Staffing:

  • Account coordinator: $35,000 to $45,000
  • Account executive: $45,000 to $58,000
  • Senior account executive: $52,000 to $70,000
  • Account director: $80,000 to $120,000
  • VP: $100,000 to $150,000

On the other hand, in house PR positions tend to have slightly higher salaries, especially when you first start out:

  • PR specialist: $40,000 to $65,000
  • PR manager: $65,000 to $120,000
  • VP: $140,000 to $195,000

With a public relations degree, you will have ample opportunity to earn an a solid living, and can earn a high salary if you follow the tips provided above.

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References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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