Entry-Level Jobs, Career Potential, and Salaries

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Government jobs are usually filled competitively, with personnel departments evaluating the basic qualifications of the applicants and the hiring official choosing from a list of the most qualified applicants. The federal government has special direct hiring provisions for recent college graduates with good grades, individuals with handicaps, and candidates coming to the agency from certain preparatory programs.

Entry-level jobs in government public affairs are quite often in offices where several people practice the public affairs craft Salaries can range from about $15,000 per year for an entry-level job in a small local government office to nearly $21,000 per year in a federal office or some state and local offices. Salaries approaching $100,000 per year are rare in the government, although top managers in large city governments, major universities, state cabinet agencies, and major federal agencies usually earn that or more. A typical mid-career public affairs professional in the Federal government can expect to earn $40,000 to $45,000 per year in field offices and $45,000 to $60,000 per year in Washington, DC. Some cities and state pay as much or more as the federal government, but many do not

A typical college graduate could expect to start at a training level and be promoted one or more times in place, often yearly, as he or she gains experience. The next step would be promotion to a journey-level position working alone in a variety of jobs before considering them for management positions, either in a large field office or in the organizational headquarters.

Since public affairs employees often work alone or as a group of only two to three people with similar skills in a larger office, advancement may require moving to other agencies or locations, rather than waiting for promotion in place. An energetic and talented employee can sometimes build his or her job into something much bigger and better paying.

Non-college graduates are often hired in public affairs offices as assistants and can sometimes move up into the professional ranks, particularly if they are willing to take some college courses to develop their communication skills.

Career potential at the top is controlled by how the larger agencies organize their public affairs functions. In some large organizations, a single executive manages the full range of relationship-building functions, including consumer affairs, legislative affairs, media relations, publishing, audiovisual production, liaison with various specialized organizations, internal communications, and responding to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act or other open government programs. In other agencies, groups of these functions are performed in separate parts of the organization. Legislative affairs offices and consumer services offices often are separate divisions, and design and printing may be placed in an administrative services organization, rather than in the public affairs office.

What You Can Earn

Salaries for a congressional press secretary can run the gamut. Your first year salary will be determined by the administrative assistant, based on such factors as previous journalism or writing experience, experience as a press secretary in another congressional office, or experience in your office if you were promoted up from a lower-level job.

There are no set starting salaries-your first year salary could range anywhere from the low- to mid-$20s. The average salary of a House press secretary is about $38,200. Some press secretaries who have been with a congressman for a long time are earning as much as $79,000 a year, but there are only a few of them, and some also double as the administrative assistant

How Will We Market across Cultures?

It is widely recognized that there are vast difficulties in community eating a common theme across cultures. Just because a public relations or advertising campaign is successful in one doesn't mean it will work unchanged in another.

Campbell, for example, doesn't market its soups the same way in a country like France, where soup is considered an important and accepted part of the spiral, as in countries where it is only viewed as a way to keep warm. Even packaging requirements can reveal critical differences. Fiery red, for example, is considered an effective color in Mediterranean countries but not in northern Europe. And Q certain areas of France and Belgium, the Flemish colors yellow and black aren't appropriate. Communications professionals must understand all the many nuances and cultural sensitivities around the globe.

Despite these obstacles, however, as our world becomes increasingly homogeneous, marketers are having increasing success in developing core programs that can guide the introduction and marketing of products across borders. Products in all countries, for example, are more and more impacted by such issues as environmental concern and safety. Lifestyle polls show that consumer values have shifted from a focus on luxury and the trappings of Yuppie-ism to a common theme with buying "green" and other value-oriented purchase decisions.

As cross-national consumers begin to share common values, coordination of product campaigns can contribute greatly to international sales. Strategic planning and international product managers will increasingly work to develop brand images and common concepts that can guide local market programs. As companies tend the reach of their operations, cost constraints will additionally demand some central planning, coupled with operational control in local markets. For this process to be successful, a considerable degree of communications expertise will be necessary.

Public relations programs that convey corporate values are often complicated by the web of relationships and the structure of operations in foreign countries. In order to survive in today's competitive environment, companies are pressured to find international allies and partnerships. These alliances are valuable in establishing teams to share costs in the development of expensive new technologies and 'products, and to achieve the scale necessary for survival amongst increasing worldwide competition.

However, joint ventures and cooperation pose distinct communications challenges, particularly as companies strive to form a corporate profile that evolves in the face of cooperative efforts, yet retains a stamp of independence and individuality.
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