Even if you are not familiar with the 1967 movie classic Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman, you will likely recognize its most famous quote – “What we have here is failure to communicate” – said by the film’s prison captain.
Indeed, failure to communicate or communicate well is often at the core of poor leadership, costly mistakes, and misunderstandings. Good communication, on the other hand, can improve professional relationships, increase emotional intelligence, and motivate excellent performance.
A bachelor's in communication will enhance critical listening and thinking skills and an awareness of cultural, social, intergenerational, and political diversity as it relates to communication. Since all the interactions we have with others involve communication, the development of your communication skills is a valuable asset to employers and a promising career option.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Communications?
Just like good communication can make or break a relationship, it can also make or break a business or career. One wrong message can ruin a company’s reputation or cost an election. One expertly crafted message can push a brand to new heights – remember Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign or FitBit’s recent “What’s Strong with You” marketing success? A degree in communications sets you up to pursue jobs in nearly any organization in any industry because good external and internal communication experts are always needed to represent organizations to their customers, donors, constituents, employees, or business partners. Sometimes communications jobs are positioned in the human resources department, the CEO’s office, or in the marketing and communications department. Other times they are in an agency, media outlet, education, or government setting. There is quite a bit of versatility with a communications degree. Regardless of the location, you will be called upon to craft the right messaging, deliver it through the most appropriate channels, and target the right audiences to achieve the organization’s communication goals.
What is a Communications Major?
A communications major is a student enrolled in a bachelor’s of communications degree program, whether on campus or online, preferably through an accredited school like Ottawa University. In a communications program, you are equipped to master the concepts and methods of communication for a wide array of settings, including learning the skills and strategies to effectively and efficiently achieve your desired outcome with a specific audience.
Ottawa University’s accelerated online communications degree builds majors’ analytical, critical, and practical written and verbal communications skills. Students also learn to recognize and understand different communication styles, issues, and systems to make decisions effectively and to solve problems.
What Courses Are in a Communications Degree?
The courses in Ottawa University’s communication degree online program will help you develop your critical thinking, writing, and research skills. Your courses may include:
- Speech Preparation and Delivery
- Human Communication
- News and Feature Reporting
- Critical Listening
- Online Communication Strategies
- Interpersonal Communication
- Small Group Communication
- Organizational Communication
- Visual Communication
- Communication Law and Ethics
- International and Intercultural Communication
- A capstone or senior comprehensive that serves as a final project to demonstrate mastery of the concepts covered in the communications program.
Concentrations are often offered, as well, that will allow for preparation in a specialty area. For example, Ottawa University offers a speech concentration that focuses on public and persuasive speaking, along with managing conflict. It also offers a strategic communication concentration that equips students for careers related to marketing, media, or public relations.
Jobs for Communications Majors
The jobs for communications majors are vast and varied, and the nuances of any given role can allow graduates to hone an array of skills. It’s worth noting that gaining experience through volunteering or internships while in college can help you land that first job and may help you identify the communications niche you want to pursue. Here are some of the jobs that you might land upon graduation.
- Public Relations/Communications Specialist - communicates with the public on behalf of a company, organization, individual, politician, or government; creates content to meet communication objectives
- Journalist/Reporter – works for a news outlet to create and report newsworthy stories
- Radio Disc Jockey – serves as an announcer on-air for news, music, sports, and general content
- Marketing Specialist– writes copy or helps create marketing campaigns for internal or external clients
- Copy Editor - proofreads, fact-checks, and edits content to ensure messaging is on point; grammar, syntax, and punctuation are used correctly; and style guides are followed.
- Media Planner/Brand Strategist - works at an advertising agency to create or help create ad campaigns for clients.
- Social Media Coordinator - develops and maintains a company's social media presence on various platforms.
- Technical Writer - Creates simplified technical documents that are easy to understand, such as instruction manuals, journal articles, or other kinds of supporting documentation
- Salesperson – uses persuasive communication skills to sell goods or services
- Publications/Feature Writing – writes articles for a magazine or other publication
A degree in communications can also lead to related roles such as meeting/event planner, human resources specialist, development officer, health educator, real estate agent, employment recruiter, or business reporter.
Career Advancement in Communications
Gaining experience in entry-level communications jobs can often lead to career advancement. Many of our graduates choose to increase their earning potential by securing roles in management. They often go on to pursue graduate degrees in business administration, human resources, or leadership. With a master’s degree, you will have the credentials for jobs such as PR manager, development director, SEO manager, marketing director, publications editor, brand manager, diplomat, social media manager, or professional mediator.
Skills Needed for Communications Jobs
There are many skills you will learn through your bachelor’s of communications degree that prepare you for entering the job market. There are also life and professional skills that are important to a successful communications career. For example, proficiency in web design, Photoshop, PowerPoint, WordPress, social media platforms, and even HTML are excellent additions to your resume. Soft skills are also extremely important for the communications major. For example, gaining experience with public speaking, making a presentation, and writing in a wide range of formats and for different audiences (blogs, correspondence, news articles, feature articles, marketing campaigns, speeches, etc.) will make you a much more attractive job candidate. You will also want to hone and highlight your critical thinking abilities; your research and analysis skills; your problem-solving savvy; your understanding of cultural, social, and political issues and diversity; and your ability to use language effectively to engage diverse constituents to meet their communications goals.
Is a Communications Major Right for Me?
You can have a lot of varied passions (and, thus, career options) that make a communications major right for you – whether it’s writing, public speaking, marketing, newscasting, public relations, sales, or journalism. So, you really can’t go wrong with a bachelor’s of communications - and you can make a profitable living with the degree.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for media and communications workers was $61,310 in May 2020. Of course, the job growth varies depending on the specific job you pursue, ranging from 5% for editors to 15% for announcers.
Ottawa University’s online communications degree is the perfect way to develop your communication skills. OU has campuses conveniently located in three major metropolitan areas: Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. It’s time to find your voice and make yourself heard! Contact us today.
Continuing Your Education After a Break
Why Should I Get a Degree?
The Versatility of a Communications Degree