How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist: Career Guide

A career as a public relations specialist is well suited for you if you have an interest in communications, a methodical approach to gathering and editing information, and a high threshold for stress.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a public relations specialist.


We've also included helpful information for a public relations specialist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education and Training Needed to Become a Public Relations Specialist

To become a public relations specialist, it is typically necessary to have a bachelor’s degree, certificate or diploma in public relations, marketing, communications, journalism, business administration or a related field.


Having training or experience in the specific line of business that the firm you wish to work for operates within is a valuable asset when trying to get a job as a public relations specialist.


Having APR (Accredited in Public Relations) accreditation confirms the holder’s experience, commitment to the profession and professional skills, and is a valuable tool for gaining employment or earning a more senior level position as a public relations specialist.




Public Relations Specialist Job Description

The main goal of a Public Relations Specialist (also known as a Public Relations Representative) is to serve as a link between an organization and the audiences they wish to reach in order to achieve certain objectives.



Public Relations Specialist Job Duties

• Coordinate special events and promotions, for internal and external audiences

• Provide consulting services to company management in order to help them reach their desired audience more effectively

• Conduct public opinion research and communicate results

• Act as a media and stakeholder contact

• Act as communication liaison between a company’s employees and its management

• Develop and implement strategic communications programs

• Create and maintain public awareness of the organization’s policies and actions



Who Hires Public Relations Specialists?

Employers that hire public relations specialists typically include:


• Consulting firms

• Corporations

• Federal, provincial and municipal governments

• Financial institutions

• Health authorities Educational institutions

• Political and social organizations

• Professional organizations and trade associations

• Self-employment (as a consultant for PR/Marketing firms)

• Self-employment (as a freelancer)




Characteristics Needed to Succeed as a Public Relations Specialist

Just because someone hopes to become a public relations specialist out of personal or professional interest, doesn’t mean they have what it takes to become successful. Below is a list of skills and attributes aspiring public relations specialists need in order to succeed.


• Must be able to frequently demonstrate initiative

• Must be able to analyze problems logically and objectively

• Must have excellent oral, written and presentation-based communications skills

• Must have excellent interpersonal skills, including coaching and negotiation skills

• Must be self-confident

• Must take a methodical approach to gathering, researching and editing information

• Must enjoy trying to persuade people



Main Sectors of Industry for Public Relations Specialist Jobs

• Administrative and Support Services

• Advertising and Related Services

• Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

• Educational Services

• Federal government

• Finance and Insurance

• Health Care and Social Assistance

• Information and Cultural Industries

• Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

• Provincial government

• Religious, Grant-Making, Civic, and Professional and Similar Organizations



Working Conditions for Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists typically work in an office setting, often with irregular schedules. Performing such duties as delivering speeches, making presentations, attending meetings and attending community events can require them to leave the office and work on evenings and weekends.


Public relations specialists typically juggle several projects at once, which can require working overtime to meet what are usually strict deadlines. A career as a public relations specialist can involve a considerable amount of travel.



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Public Relations Specialist Salary

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, workers in the Professional Occupations in Public Relations and Communications occupational group in Alberta earned on average from $25.48 to $36.90 an hour.


In the United States, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010 the median salary for workers in the Public Relations Managers and Specialists occupational group earned a median salary of $57,550 per year.


Please Note: Salary levels for public relations specialists can vary depending on many factors, such as whom their employer is, what their level of experience and education are, and many more



Careers Similar to Public Relations Specialist

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Public Relations Specialist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Campaign Manager

Communications Advisor

Communications Assistant

Communications Consultant

Customer Service Representative



References: Public Relations Specialist Career

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a public relations specialist.


Occupations in Alberta:Public Relations Representative.” (January 28, 2013). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Media & Communication:Public Relations Specialists.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Occupation Summary:Public Relations Specialist in Canada.” (December 4, 2019). Government of Canada - Job Bank website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Public Relations Specialist can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Public Relations Specialist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a public relations specialist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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