Importance Of Training And Qualifications

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For any of the fields covered in this article, a bachelor's degree in communications provides a good entry. However, while some positions, such as assistant/junior copywriters, don't require a four-year degree, as competition for jobs increases B.A.- or even master s-degree holders will have an edge. But a degree is not the only criterion an employer sets. The following skills have been identified in an IABC survey as those most commonly used by its membership:

In addition, these other skills and personal qualities become important depending upon the area of business communications you choose to pursue. The more of these you are able to acquire or nurture, the better your chances of securing the type of job you are seeking.

Some qualities people are born with; others can be acquired. Future communications specialists can start while in college. In addition to the courses required for the major, a host of other classes will enrich your skill bank and enhance your resume. These days, with more and more businesses and organizations entering the international marketplace, being fluent in one or more foreign languages can only work in your favor. Enroll in economics, finance, management, sociology, psychology, and public speaking.



Get as much practical hands-on experience as you can while in college. Work for the student newspaper or on the yearbook staff. Help organize student activities, volunteer for the speakers bureau, or become a peer counselor.

Participate in work-study or cooperative-education programs, and take advantage of any internships or practicums you are able to line up, even if it means extending your graduation date a semester. Most university programs cooperate with local, national, and sometimes international businesses to place students in hands-on internships. If your university does not have access to these kinds of placements, you can often arrange them on your own. A phone call or a letter to the right company could be all it takes to open the door to a rewarding experience.

Many successful communications specialists also have a record of volunteer service with civic groups and charities. For those seeking intercultural experiences, find summer employment overseas or after graduation do a stint in the Peace Corps. Teaching English as a foreign language overseas is a rewarding way to acquire cross-cultural experience. While on campus, interact with the international student office or volunteer in the English-as-a- second-language program. Intercultural sensitivity and experience can often be best gained outside the classroom.

While the job market is competitive, it is open to newcomers, especially to newcomers who have shown initiative in preparing themselves as much as possible.

CAREER OUTLOOK

Businesses and other organizations spend more than one billion dollars annually to communicate with employees or members, with even more money going to fund communication with external audiences such as customers, community residents, alumni, opinion leaders, and the public at large.

According to predictions made in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of corporate communications managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the years to come. Employment for public relations specialists other than managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all jobs through the years to come.

Employment in public relations firms is expected to grow more than in any other setting, as corporations, trying to keep costs down, hire contractors to provide PR services rather than support a full-time communications staff.

Keen competition for these jobs, however, will likely continue among recent college graduates with degrees in communications and related fields because the number of applicants is expected to exceed the number of job openings. Although the job market has narrowed somewhat, many attractive opportunities are available to recent grads and demand for their skills remains strong.

EARNINGS

According to a recent College Placement Council Survey, entry-level salaries in public relations average about $21,000. Another comprehensive study, jointly conducted in 2000 by the International Association of Business Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America, shows that the average annual base salary for communicators is $69,000, with an average bonus of $10,000. Of course, salaries vary depending upon the region of the country and the size and budget of the hiring institution.

If the starting salaries seem disappointingly low, the good news is that as employees travel up the corporate ladder, salaries rise with them. Consultants' salaries are considerably higher than those with a corporate position, $110,000 versus $63,000. Consultants' cash bonuses are higher, too, averaging $20,000 versus $9,000 for those working in the corporate sector.

The job charts available on the internet will give you an idea of your earning potential after a few years in a variety of settings.
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