There are a lot of choices, however, and the aim of this article is to help you narrow them down and find the career path that best suits your education, interests, and skills.
For the purposes of this article, four main paths are explored, but they are in no way exhaustive. As you have already gleaned from reading the introduction to this article, the list of main tracks numbers close to two dozen. Within those tracks are thousands of different job titles. Many are explored throughout the following four chapters, as primary paths or secondary and related paths.
The four career paths described in this article are:
- Corporate communications
- Consumer communications
- Communication disorders
As mentioned previously, this list is by no means comprehensive. Many university programs allow for a great deal of latitude in designing majors and courses of study. It is now common practice to pursue interdisciplinary degrees. With a little bit of guidance and creativity, you should be able to make a case for your communications degree in any area you wish to enter.
What follows is a sampling of some of the University of Florida's communication studies courses:
- Introduction to communication studies
- Interpersonal communication in health care and promotion
- Public speaking
- Nonverbal communication
- Small group communication
- Issues in public deliberation
Another track within the University of Florida's program is a focus on communication or communicative disorders. Students in this program, both undergraduate and graduate, learn about disorders and pathology affecting individuals. Graduates go into careers as speech pathologists or audiologists.
The University of Wisconsin, Madison
The University of Wisconsin, Madison, has schools and departments where students can pursue communications studies, explore traditional journalism and mass communications, as well as agricultural journalism and communications arts.
The communications program is housed within the university outreach division. It is a noncredit-bearing, continuing education course of study aimed at adults who are already working in various fields or are considering a career change. Students in credit-bearing departments also take advantage of the outreach program's curriculum.
Marshall J. Cook, former chairman and current full professor in the department and author, explains their focus:
"In the division of outreach we cover health and human issues, humanities, and speech and organizational communications. We re eclectic, and we put the stress on teaching. We offer workshops in journalism and mass communications-freelance writing, publishing, and some print design and production. We also provide training on the Internet and in public speaking.
"Primarily, although not entirely, we are dealing with professionals who already have jobs. Others are looking into changing careers. They come to broaden their skills or learn new ones. For example, an employee in a company has just been told he is now responsible for putting out the in-house newsletter. It might be a small company without any employees versed in these areas. He comes to us to learn how to do it.
"In my area we work with staff writers, editors, business and industry people who work on house publications, public relations people, freelancers, fiction writers, and people who are trying to find a publisher or are considering self-publishing.
"In our speech and organizational communications section we work with government entities, university and business people, marketing professionals, and a lot of nonprofit service organizations. They have a great need but not a whole lot of money. Its more cost-effective to train one of their own than to hire an additional professional.
"Our program stresses personal and professional development and has an impact on the economy of the state. We help publications that want to improve and turn a profit, and assist government agencies in working more effectively.
"We do a lot of the nuts-and-bolts stuff that many campuses don't cover. You can go through a four-year program and never learn how to write a query letter, or even learn what one is, or how to market yourself and your work, or some important hands-on computer skills.
"Communications is an evolving field and our curriculum reflects the interests of our faculty and of the community. Basically our aim is to offer a good quality continuing education program."
What follows is a sampling of some of the University of Wisconsin's outreach communication programs' workshops:
- Interpersonal and workplace communication
- Marketing and media relations
- Nonprofit development
- Marketing your writing
- Low-budget filmmaking
- Report writing
- Communicative disorders
Because of the wide diversity of programs, communications majors cannot afford to wait to make a career path decision until after they enroll at a university. The desired field of study must at least be narrowed down to a fairly specific focus before one sends out applications for admission.
Consulting course catalogs and talking with instructors and other students will show how content materials are organized at the various institutions offering communications majors. Knowing what path you want to follow, then choosing the best university to match your needs, will help ensure you get started on the right track.