The many careers you can pursue with an MA in Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of all business and human relationships. Earning a Master of Arts in Communication degree is a way for you to learn skills like social influence and persuasion or conflict resolution and successfully apply them in your career.

Communication MA curriculum covers material related to many disciplines, including media, marketing and business. The communication field is recognized for its professional value, and there is high demand for this type of expertise.

For example, strengths in written, verbal and interpersonal communication are thoroughly sought after by employers, according to a study by Burning Glass Technologies. In addition, the soft skills taught through a communication degree program are highly desired by companies, with a LinkedIn survey finding that 57 percent of business leaders believe soft skills are more important than technical ones.

An online Master of Arts in Communication can help you develop the knowledge and competencies you need to excel in a variety of professional roles. Here are some of the careers you can pursue:

Marketing manager

For companies to make money or organizations to gain investors’ support, they need to be able to reach consumers. Marketing managers can be that critical link between a company and its current and potential customers.

Marketing managers need to understand where and how to effectively reach their companies' target markets. They develop, oversee and implement a variety of marketing campaigns and initiatives as well as monitor the impact of those efforts. Marketing managers often take a multi-channeled approach to advertising their companies' products and services, utilizing methods and strategies including online and content marketing, email marketing, direct mail marketing and television and radio commercials.

Marketing managers also lead brand engagement initiatives and compile reports on brand sentiment to make strategic recommendations to executives. Taking factors such as location, company and industry into consideration, the median annual salary for a marketing manager can range from around $68,000 to $180,000 on the higher end, according to the BLS.

As a marketing manager, you can enjoy a fast-paced, creative career that makes a positive impact on both your company and its customers. An MA in Communication curriculum can cover many skills needed in this career, such as persuasion and social influence, communication in the workplace and communication in global contexts.

Public relations specialist

Whether facing good or bad press, PR specialists make sure their companies manage headlines and facilitate relationships with customers, investors and the public at large.

PR specialists work to protect and elevate their company’s brand image. For instance, they draft communication strategies for how company representatives should speak about certain subjects or respond to questions. If an organization experiences an incident that results in negative press, PR specialists create a plan for handling the event and improving the company’s public image.

In addition, PR specialists oversee a company's relationship with the media, responding to press inquiries, arranging for interviews and television appearances, and writing press releases or managing a team that handles these duties.  The median annual salary for a PR specialist is $58,020, according to the BLS, while higher-level PR managers earn a median annual wage of $111,280.

A PR specialist career may be right for you if you're fascinated by how companies and organizations create and maintain a public image. The job can be engaging and fulfilling for those who enjoy creative problem-solving and unique challenges. Higher education, such as an MA in Communication, can prepare you for work as a PR professional through hands-on coursework, relating to crises communication and conflict management, guided by experienced faculty.

Internal corporate communications manager

Not all communication roles are focused on external relationships. Correspondence within a company is just as important as what’s articulated to the public, which is where internal corporate communications managers come in.

Internal corporate communications managers oversee the communication between a company and its employees. They write emails, memos and other materials informing employees of changes in the business, quarterly results, events and other happenings. These materials are often written in the voice of the company in a way that resonates with its employees. A command of effective communication is critical in this role because organizations need engaged, satisfied employees to be successful.

Further job duties of internal corporate communications managers can include writing and disseminating employee newsletters, maintaining a company blog or developing other corporate materials. These professionals may also organize speaking engagements and training workshops for staff.

The median annual wage for an internal communications manager is $63,585, according to Payscale. Many skills needed for this type of role are covered in classes such as communication in the workplace or communication in global contexts, often offered as part of an Online MA in Communication program. Students can learn how to connect with peers and subordinates to manage projects effectively.  

Human resource manager

Human resource managers work to ensure that all employees are satisfied, healthy and productive at work. They specialize in human capital management and play a critical role in resolving conflict and handling sensitive issues in the workplace. HR managers meet with employees who have questions or concerns about issues at work and create roadmaps for improvement. In some cases, professionals will oversee recruitment efforts, identifying the need for new talent, writing job postings, conducting interviews, determining salary and implementing onboarding programs.

HR managers are often responsible for motivating employees to use company-provided benefits, including health and dental insurance and retirement planning. Furthermore, their job duties can include ensuring payroll is carried out accurately and designing continuous-learning programs to train employees in new skills. HR managers may also organize company social events.

While HR managers have many day-to-day tasks, they also take a big-picture view by analyzing the success of HR initiatives and making suggestions on where a company's human capital management strategies can be improved. These projects focus on goals such as greater employee engagement, productivity and revenue.

The annual median salary for an HR manager can range from around $65,000 up to nearly $200,000, depending on the industry, company and location. This can be a rewarding career where you help people find motivation, fulfillment and a healthy work-life balance at their jobs. You can create a positive work culture, establishing trust and transparency between a company and its workers.

With a communication master’s program, students can explore subjects related to HR, such as conflict management, global communication and effective negotiations, to apply their learnings in a professional setting.

Development and communications manager

Development and communications managers work for nonprofits to fundraise, oversee outreach efforts, and spread awareness for the organization's mission. They may coordinate fundraising campaigns, write grant proposals, and handle other related materials. These professionals identify ways to connect with their communities and raise interest for their causes. Development and communication managers may also connect with sponsors or local governments to organize fundraising events such as dinners, galas, walks, marathons and talks at local schools or community centers. In addition, people in this role may supervise the operation of the nonprofit's website as well as write news articles and other materials for publications that share the organization's mission and call readers to action.

According to Payscale, the median annual salary for development and communications managers is broad, ranging from around $39,000 up to a high of $100,000. Much of the range can be attributed to location, company, industry and experience.

By helping to serve local communities, this role can be very rewarding, and you can prepare to succeed in such a position through an MA in Communication program. Courses like conducting communication research or social influence and persuasion may prove valuable.

Making your next move

These opportunities are just a sampling of the many careers Communication graduates can pursue. Arizona State University offers an online Master of Arts in Communication degree that aims to prepare students for these and other professions by teaching tactics like leadership, conflict management, social influence and persuasion and workplace communication.

A degree in communication can help you reach career goals in your current field or switch to a new path. Whether you have a busy job, family obligations or other responsibilities, you can pursue the online MA in Communication degree from ASU to continue your professional and personal growth, on your schedule.

Sources:
ASU Online – Communication (MA)
O*Net OnLine – Human Resources Managers
O*Net OnLine – Marketing Managers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Media and Communication Occupations
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Human Resources Managers
Payscale – Senior Internal Communications Manager Salary
Payscale – Development Communications Manager Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Public Relations Specialists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Marketing Managers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Burning Glass Technologies - Soft Skills Study
EAB - Most In Demand Skills
Arizona State University Faculty Guidance

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