Turning the Camera on Communications Careers: Maybe You Dream of Writing the Next Great American Novel or Earning a Pulitzer; Maybe You Think Jon Stewart Is Cool or Oprah Is Awesome. Either Way, Communications May Be the Perfect Career Path

By Martinez, Amanda | Careers & Colleges, January-February 2006 | Go to article overview
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Turning the Camera on Communications Careers: Maybe You Dream of Writing the Next Great American Novel or Earning a Pulitzer; Maybe You Think Jon Stewart Is Cool or Oprah Is Awesome. Either Way, Communications May Be the Perfect Career Path


Martinez, Amanda, Careers & Colleges


Communications: it's one of those fields that cover a wide range of jobs. Depending on who you ask and what college and university programs you look at, communications can encompass careers ranging from writing, broadcasting, and advertising to graphic or performing arts, Web design, and occasionally even counseling. According to the National Communication Association (NCA), because communications includes such a diverse array of specializations, scholars and teachers have sought to define the discipline more definitively in recent years. In the end, they decided that an umbrella description of communications is "an area that promotes the ethical delivery of messages and meanings."

Figuring out exactly what it means to have a career in communications can be a little complicated, but the flexibility and scope of the job descriptions and opportunities is part of the appeal. This is especially important today because experts predict that you are likely to change careers--not just jobs--at several points throughout your working years. At any time in your future, you may find that a background in communications helps you land jobs as varied as ...

* Public relations specialist--serves as a vital link between an organization, customers, and the community in times of hardship;

* Technical writer--effectively distills complex scientific terminology into simpler language so everyone can understand such things as their TiVo or computer manuals;

* Sign language interpreter--helps a deaf person describe her ailments to a physician, resulting in a speedy diagnosis that saves her life;

* Speechwriter--composes the stirring address that motivates a nation into positive action;

* Audio and video equipment technician--sets up the sound and lights for the summer's hottest concert tour;

* Film editor--condense take after take into this year's Oscar winner; or

* Photojournalist--capture the hem team's against-the-odds victory for all to see in the morning paper

Some communications careers are useful in bridging the gap across a number of very different fields. For example, you may find yourself doing public relations work for a top accounting firm. You may even choose to major in English but wind up going to medical school because you've built up the analytical and language skills critical to being a physician. And, with technology and globalization changing the face of media and communication every day, careers in this field are constantly evolving and emerging.

The Communications Angle

Okay, maybe you think that communications is the right field for you. It sounds exciting and challenging, a job that will keep you learning and growing. As with any career, it pays to investigate all the angles to get a clear picture. For example, did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities and pay for some communications jobs--like those in broadcasting--are often better in more metropolitan areas? Or that night, weekend, and holiday work is a fact of life in journalism careers? Or that more than one third of writers and editors are self-employed?

There are many things to consider, so keep your eyes and ears open and talk to those who work in the field--including your communications teachers who have probably held jobs in the industry outside the classroom. Check out national societies for the careers that catch your attention. They can provide great information, resources, and contacts. Examples include the Society for Technical Communication (www.stc.org), the National Association of Broadcasters (www.nab.org), and the Public Relations Society of American (www.prsa.org).

Getting There

According to the BLS, competition for entry-level jobs in many communications fields is nothing short of fierce, so you'll want to be sure you take advantage of every opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competition.

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Turning the Camera on Communications Careers: Maybe You Dream of Writing the Next Great American Novel or Earning a Pulitzer; Maybe You Think Jon Stewart Is Cool or Oprah Is Awesome. Either Way, Communications May Be the Perfect Career Path
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