Back to Blog
I have been taking a course called, "Issues in Public Relations," that is taught by Carl Botan, a professor at George Mason University. Just like any college course, the first day of class focused mainly on going over the syllabus and making sure all of the students within the class understand what is expected of them. Professor Botan chose to put things in perspective for PR students at George Mason, and so he led off his syllabus like this:
"Public relations has been a fast growing field and has climbed well up the corporate and professional ladder in the last third-century or so. In addition, in spite of relatively low starting pay, it has become a relatively high paying profession. For example, in 2014 the mean pay for all occupations was $47,230, while all management occupations had a mean pay of $112,490. For those PR managers BLS grouped with advertising, marketing, promotions and sales (occupation code 11-200) mean pay was $127,880 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/ oes_nat.htm#11-0000). Mean pay for PR managers and fundraising (occupation code 11-2031) was $115,400, or $55.48 per hour.
In the meantime, computer programmers mean pay is $82,690, aerospace engineers $107,700, civil engineers $87,130, architects $72,830, software developers and programmers $95,280, mathematical science occupations $87,530, biological scientists $79,200, life, physical and social scientists $70.070, psychologists $75,790, social workers $49,150, editors $64,140, police officers $59,530. However, public relations specialists (code 27-3031) below the rank of manager, only some of whom have an undergraduate degree in PR, have mean pay of only $64,050. So going into PR without a degree in the field is not such a good idea anymore.
Pay scales vary by region and city, however, and you are in precisely the right market here at Mason. In 2014 the Washington DC market was the #1 ranked state for PR pay by the BLS with mean pay for PR managers in DC of $152,840. Virginia as a state is at $137,820 and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia area as over $151,300, which is second to NYC-NJ metro area which is at $164,520. The NYC-NJ area has 4,590 such jobs and the DC-VA-MD area has 3,820 such jobs, while no other top paying area has even 1,000 such jobs.
Needless to say this causes more and more people to want to get into our field. Some of these folks mistakenly think that public relations is a less demanding way to make a good living than some other field – a shortcut that avoids math, competition, long hours, or other demanding standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good pay attracts good competition and moving up the organizational ladder requires speaking the same language as other departments. For example, public relations is one of the most research-focused and data-driven field there is (which is why communication research methods is required here). Some folks even think that being a “people person” or “talking well” qualifies them to be in public relations – but these claims are a standing joke among modern PR practitioners. Instead, successful PR people write a lot, do a lot of research, never miss a deadline, and solve problems rather than complaining that things are “unfair.” This last point is critical because one of the highest paying specialties in PR – called crisis communication -- is when we are called into unfair situations to fix problems caused by others..."
For every PR student here at George Mason, or any student studying public relations within Virginia, D.C. or Maryland - here is something to read to keep you motivated to your end goal. Stay competitive and never short yourself, keep working and striving to be the best young PR practitioner you can be - you will be rewarded.