How to Become a Communications Advisor


Communications advisors help companies engage with their customers; politicians communicate their plans; non-profits engage with the general public to foment change in the community. They work diligently to make sure that an organization can reach its outreach-related goals.


This profession could be an excellent fit for you’re interested in working with social and traditional media to help spread important messages, are someone who likes to research and persuade people, and someone who likes to turn concepts and ideas into strategy and action.


Below, we’ll explore in more depth what you would be doing in this profession, how to get into it, and how to advance your career.



Education Needed to Become a Communications Advisor 

Most commonly, employers will require that you have a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or a related field. However, there are exceptions to this; some employers will hire you if you have a degree related to their field of operations, and a few years worth of experience in communications within that field. 


For example, if applying to work at an environmental protection agency, they might hire you if you have a degree in environmental science or even political science, if you’ve acquired experience in communications in that field, and demonstrate competence.





Experience You Might Need

The role of ‘communications advisor’ is typically reserved for those whom have established themselves as competent and dependable within the field, and therefore typically requires roughly 3-5 years of experience in working within communications teams.


Some employers might insist on hiring someone with experience in their particular area of operations or sector (such as a political party hiring someone with political communications experience), while others will be searching for someone who’s simply good at their job, regardless of whether or not they have any experience in communications within that specific industry or sector. 



More About This Career: General Job Description

Communications advisors are responsible for developing and providing communications strategies, services, products, tools and advice to their employers.


They must develop and implement strategic communication and proactive media relations initiatives that help the clients or employer achieve its goals, which could be political, social, scientific or economic in nature.



Typical Job Duties

Although the specific duties and responsibilities can vary from job to job, communications advisors are generally responsible for the following:


• Acting as a spokesperson to external media

• Establishing and maintaining relationships with media representatives

• Responding to media inquiries

• Developing integrated media strategies

• Preparing executive presentations, organizational announcements, annual reports, brochures, news releases and others

• Preparing publication materials for the media, members of relevant government ministries, and civil society

• Working with internal communications team members and external consultants to develop communications tools

• Creating individual communications plans for specific initiatives

• Disseminating regular project updates to interested stakeholders and media, including drafting success stories, snapshots, before and after pieces, and other communications materials

• Overseeing progress on the implementation of the communications strategy



Average and Median Salary Levels

Unfortunately, there is no salary data available from government sources for the specific profession of ‘communications advisors’. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related fields.


Communications Advisor Salary - Canada: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), the average salary level of Albertans working in the Public Relations Representatives occupational group, is $77,090 per year. No similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 6, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Public Relations Specialists occupational group is $60,00 is per year. It’s worth noting that the lowest 10% of salaries in this group were less than $33,690, and the highest 10% were above $112,310 (May, 2018 figures).


Please Note: There are several factors that can influence what you could earn as a communications advisor, including:


• Your level of education and experience 

• The scope of your job duties and functions

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which your employer operates

• Other possible factors





Who Employs Communications Advisors?

Communications advisors can be employed by virtually any organization that releases communications with internal and/or external stakeholders, which is basically any type of organization. Even organizations and individuals that don’t employ them on a regular basis can still hire them for contract work, or short-term projects, or on an ongoing, consultancy basis. 


Possible types of employers/contractors include:


• Private and publicly traded companies in all sectors of industry

• Colleges, universities and other educational institutions

• Non-profit and not-for-profit organizations

• Local, regional and federal government agencies 

• Hospitals and healthcare organizations

• Newspapers, magazines, news media and online publications 

• Public relations, communications and marketing firms

• Professional corporations, such as law firms and medical offices

• Sports teams and theatre companies 

• Individual politician’s and political parties 

• Many more types of organizations



Types of Projects They Work On

Communications advisors can work for virtually any type of organization. They can be found across all areas of industry, and throughout the non-profit, non-for-profit and and for-profit sectors. They can also work with political groups, governmental agencies, and non-governmental agencies (NGOs). 


Below is a brief overview of some of the types of projects they can be hired to work on based on what type of employer they’re working for.
Political: In the political sphere, communications advisors might be responsible for helping a politician communicating their potential value as an elected official to their future constituents.


Corporate: When working with large companies, a communications advisor might be tasked with helping to communicate recent community-based initiatives the company has undertaken, or financial information for shareholders.


Entertainment: Communications advisors can also be employed with sports teams/leagues, theatre companies, and other such organizations to communicate upcoming events with their fans, and to promote their overall image.


Non-Profit: Communications advisors can also be employed with animal protection agencies, environmental research agencies, health organizations, and a host of others, to engage the general public and government regarding pressing issues that require action and change.


Please Note: The above examples are for illustrative purposes only; there is a much wider spectrum of projects communications advisors can be involved in.



How to Get a Job

To get a job as a communications advisor, you’ll first need to accumulate work experience on a communications team. 


The best way to go about doing this, is to simply find a job after graduating with a communications or journalism degree (or while you’re a student), and learn as much as you can in an entry-level position, demonstrating competence and a solid work ethic along the way, and moving into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you go. This will ensure that you gain the necessary skills to work in an advisor role.


If you already have experience, you can either apply to internal vacancies within your organizations, or, if there is a specific organization you’d like to work with, you can proactively approach them to see if they’d be able to fit you onto their staff.


Fortunately, communications advisor jobs are also commonly and widely posted online; feel free to check our job board below to see if there are any vacancies in your area.



Communications Advisor Jobs


Typical Working Conditions 

Communications advisors are usually required to remain seated for extended periods of time during each workday to research information, review documents, use a keyboard, focus on a computer screen, prepare documents and attend meetings. 


Their work is normally performed in a closed office environment during normal, weekday hours, and involves daily exposure to glare from computers during long periods, extensive reading and working on projects/reports for up to five hours at a time. Overtime may be required from time to time, in order to meet deadlines, or liaise with outside personnel and other stakeholders. 


In this profession, visual attention is required for sustained periods on a daily basis when reading, producing and analyzing a variety of documents. On most types of projects, there is little tolerance for errors. Auditory attention is also required for sustained periods on a regular basis, such as when taking notes and recording decisions at meetings and capturing what is being said. 


The job a communications advisor can be quite stressful, which largely results from having to deal with multiple demands, changing priorities and immutable deadlines, along with the pressure to deliver and services of the highest quality despite time, and when dealing with conflicting opinions.



Career Advancement Possibilities 

As a communications advisor, you could advance your career in several ways. One common way, is to simply take on more challenging and interesting assignments, typically as a self-employed contractor.


Or, if you like working with a permanent employer, you might have the opportunity move into a management or executive role, such as ‘Communications Manager’, or ‘Vice-President of Communications’. Alternatively, you could move into a different yet related role, such as moving into marketing, public relations, or other similar areas within your organization or an outside organization.


Another possibility, is to turn your accumulated knowledge and experience into becoming an author, blogger, speaker, lecturer or even a communications professor or researcher.


You could also potentially become a board member on organizations related to your field of expertise. For example, if your main area of professional focus has been generating attention for animal welfare organizations, you might find yourself sitting on one or more of their boards.


How to Become a Communications Advisor


Similar Careers in Our System

Listed below are career guides in our database for professions that are similar in nature to ‘communications advisor’, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities:


Communications Assistant

Communications Consultant

Marketing Coordinator

Political Campaign Manager

Public Relations Specialist 

Senior Policy Advisor

Speech Writer



Scholarships Relevant to Becoming a Communications Advisor

The scholarships in our database that are most relevant for becoming a communications advisor include:


Communications Scholarships

Film Studies Scholarships

Political Science Scholarships


Success Tip: Every year, literally millions of dollars in scholarship money goes unused due to a lack of applicants. Apply for as many as you can, and keep record of those for which you do apply.



References for This Career Guide

Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a communications advisor:


Occupations in Alberta:Public Relations Representative.” (January 8, 2013). ALIS - Alberta Learning and Information Service. Retrieved July 6, 2019.

Occupational Employment Statistics:Public Relations Specialists.” (April 12, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved July 6, 2019.

Blog:Doing Comms: What does a Communications Advisor Do All Day?” Dave Walsh (May 17, 2018). Cold Reality Website. Retrieved July 6, 2019.


Please Note: Much of the Information used for this career guide was sourced from actual job postings, and due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as references.



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below will serve as an excellent educational foundation for this career. 


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