Having a degree is more or less essential in today’s competitive work environment. It’s even more important, however, to have the right kind of degree.
The thing is it’s not always easy to know which degree is right for a particular profession.
Some professions have it easy; you get an engineering degree if you want to go into engineering, you get a teaching degree if you want to go into education, you get a medical degree if you want to practice medicine.
Some professions are trickier; for example, what degree best suits the public relations industry?
Well, what Degree does?
Despite the fact that PR has been around for years, there are few degree programmes dedicated exclusively to public relations.
Instead, you’ll find communications or marketing degrees with public relations majors.
These options have served students well, but, if you believe Mary Fletcher Jones, that could be about to change (fletcher-prince.com).
The reason: they’re a dime a dozen.
Remember how in the late 90s, everyone was getting a BA in Fine Arts? Remember how they were mocked because it qualified them for nothing?
That’s kind of where Jones thinks communication and public relations majors are heading.
They’re perceived as Mickey Mouse majors – anyone with half a brain can get one (we’re not saying that’s true, just that this is what many people think).
Jones says that you’re much better off getting a degree in in something that you’re truly passionate about, like politics or even history, which you can then supplement with PR add-ons, like short courses and online diplomas.
English is a good subject as it will help hone your writing skills Bear in mind, however, that English is also a very general subject and also bears the ‘easy’ label, so don’t choose it as a major unless you intend putting it to good use as a teacher, writer or publisher.
(Note that Jones is very clear that this is only her opinion and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the rest of the PR industry.)
An article on everything-pr.com says that there are several different pathways to a successful career in PR, including: business and economics degrees, performing arts degrees, and computer science and IT degrees.
A degree in journalism is also not a bad idea.
Is a Degree necessary?
Yes, absolutely. In March 2012, PR Week published some stats which showed that 89% of PR professionals have a degree and that 86% of successful PR recruits have a degree.
The article didn’t say anything about which degrees are best, just that having a degree proves competency in research and writing (that old chestnut).
And in the End
Public relations agencies are probably not going to shut the door in your face because you’ve chosen to major in communications or public relations.
But, as PR evolves and requires even more creative thinking and innovative strategies, maybe the time has come to start thinking out of the box when it comes to getting your degree.
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Jemima Winslow writes for Nowlearning Australia, a portal for TAFE courses and other online and classroom-based tertiary education opportunities in Australia, including PR degrees and marketing and communications courses.