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Become A Communications Officer

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Working As A Communications Officer

  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $66,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Communications Officer Do

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Duties

Public relations managers typically do the following:

  • Write press releases and prepare information for the media
  • Identify main client groups and audiences and determine the best way to reach them
  • Designate an appropriate spokesperson or information source for media inquiries
  • Help clients communicate effectively with the public
  • Develop their organization's or client’s corporate image and identity
  • Assist and inform an organization’s executives and spokespeople
  • Devise advertising and promotion programs
  • Assign, supervise, and review the activities of staff

Fundraising managers typically do the following:

  • Manage progress towards achieving an organization’s fundraising goals
  • Develop and carry out fundraising strategies
  • Identify and contact potential donors
  • Create and plan different events that can generate donations
  • Meet face-to-face with highly important donors
  • Apply for grants
  • Assign, supervise, and review the activities of staff

Public relations managers review press releases and sponsor corporate events to help maintain and improve the image of their organization or client.

Public relations managers help to clarify their organization’s point of view to its main audience through media releases and interviews. They observe social, economic, and political trends that might ultimately affect their organization, and they recommend ways to enhance the firm's image based on those trends. For example, in response to a growing concern about the environment, the public relations manager for an oil company may create a campaign to publicize its efforts to develop cleaner fuels.

In large organizations, public relations managers often supervise a staff of public relations specialists. They also work with advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to ensure that advertising campaigns are compatible with the image the company or client is trying to portray. For example, if a firm decides to emphasize its appeal to a certain group, such as young people, the public relations manager needs to make sure that current advertisements are well received by that group.

In addition, public relations managers may handle internal communications, such as company newsletters, and may help financial managers produce an organization’s reports. They may also draft speeches, arrange interviews, and maintain other forms of public contact to help the organization’s top executives.

Public relations managers must be able to work well with many types of specialists to report the facts accurately. In some cases, the information they write has legal consequences. As a result, they must work with the company's or client's lawyers to be sure that the information they release is both legally accurate and clear to the public.

Fundraising managers oversee campaigns and events intended to bring in donations for their organization. Many organizations that employ fundraisers rely heavily on the donations they gather in order to run their operations.

Fundraising managers usually decide which fundraising techniques are necessary in a certain situation. Common techniques may include annual campaigns, capital campaigns, planned giving, or major gifts. In addition, social media has created a new avenue for fundraising managers to connect with more potential donors and to spread their organization’s message.

Those who work on annual campaigns focus heavily on contacting donors who have given in the past, and request that they give again. Finding new contacts for future donations is also a component of a successful annual campaign.

Capital campaigns are different; they are generally used to raise money over a shorter time period and for a specific project, such as the construction of a new building at a university.

Fundraisers who spend most of their time on planned giving must have specialized training in taxes regarding gifts of stocks, bonds, charitable annuities, and real estate bequests in a will. Major gifts are a feature of many different campaigns and are generally requested in person given the large value of the potential donation.

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How To Become A Communications Officer

Public relations and fundraising managers need at least a bachelor’s degree, and some positions may require a master’s degree. Many years of related work experience are also necessary.

Education

For public relations and fundraising management positions, a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, English, fundraising, or journalism is generally required. However, some employers prefer a master’s degree, particularly in public relations, journalism, fundraising, or nonprofit management.

Courses in advertising, business administration, public affairs, public speaking, and creative and technical writing can be helpful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, public relations managers can get certified through the Public Relations Society of America. Candidates qualify based on years of experience and must pass an exam to become certified.

The International Association of Business Communicators offers a credential to demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise.

The Certified Fund Raising Executive program, offered by CFRE International, is voluntary, but fundraisers who pursue certification demonstrate a level of professional competency to prospective employers. Candidates are required to have 5 years of work experience in fundraising and have 80 hours of continuing education through conference attendance and classroom instruction to qualify. Fundraisers must apply for renewal every 3 years to keep their certification valid.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Public relations and fundraising managers must have several years of experience in a related or entry-level position, such as a public relations specialist or fundraiser.

Lower level management positions may require only a few years of experience, whereas directors are more likely to need 5 to 10 years of related work experience.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Managers deal with the public regularly; therefore, they must be friendly enough to build rapport and receive cooperation from their media contacts and donors.

Leadership skills. Public relations and fundraising managers often lead large teams of specialists or fundraisers and must be able to guide their activities.

Organizational skills. Public relations and fundraising managers are often in charge of running several events at the same time, requiring superior organizational skills.

Problem-solving skills. Managers sometimes must explain how the company or client is handling sensitive issues. They must use good judgment in what they report and how they report it.

Speaking skills. Public relations and fundraising managers regularly speak on behalf of their organization. When doing so, they must be able to explain the organization’s position clearly.

Writing skills. Managers must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases and speeches. They must be able to grasp the key messages they want to get across and write them succinctly in order to keep the attention of busy readers or listeners.

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Communications Officer Career Paths

Communications Officer
Communications Manager Real Estate Agent Leasing Consultant
Assistant Director, Communications
5 Yearsyrs
Dispatcher Operation Supervisor General Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Operations Officer Chief Of Operations
Chief Deputy
8 Yearsyrs
Operations Officer Executive Officer
Chief Of Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Dispatcher Operations Manager Property Manager
Communications Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Communications Director Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Communications Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Communications Director Marketing Director Writer And Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Program Manager Marketing Manager
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Communications Manager Communications Director
Director Strategic Communications
11 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Subject Matter Expert Information Technology Specialist
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Service Officer Service Supervisor Manager, Member Services
Membership Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Outreach Coordinator
Outreach Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner
Owner/Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Service Coordinator Recruiting Coordinator
Resource Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Account Manager Account Executive
Sales/Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Lieutenant Security Officer
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Security Officer
Security Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Patrol Officer Training Officer Development Officer
Senior Officer
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Communications Officer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Police Dispatcher 3.5 years
Top Careers Before Communications Officer
Internship 9.2%
Cashier 8.2%
Volunteer 4.3%
Officer 4.2%
Dispatcher 3.7%
Manager 3.6%
Teller 3.6%
Supervisor 2.8%
Teacher 2.8%
Top Careers After Communications Officer
Dispatcher 6.1%
Officer 5.7%
Internship 4.3%
Manager 4.2%
Owner 3.8%
Director 3.6%
Consultant 3.5%

Do you work as a Communications Officer?

Communications Officer Demographics

Gender

Female

56.0%

Male

41.5%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

58.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

14.3%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.6%

French

15.4%

Arabic

5.4%

Russian

3.9%

Italian

3.2%

Chinese

3.2%

Japanese

3.2%

Mandarin

2.9%

German

2.9%

Hindi

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Carrier

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

Swahili

1.1%

Hawaiian

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Kurdish

1.1%

Filipino

1.1%

Urdu

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%
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Communications Officer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

17.1%

Liberty University

7.7%

Sam Houston State University

6.2%

Webster University

5.6%

American University

5.1%

Saint Leo University

4.9%

University of Maryland - University College

4.7%

Troy University

4.5%

Kaplan University

4.3%

Syracuse University

4.1%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.1%

Strayer University

4.1%

Angelo State University

3.6%

Walden University

3.6%

Colorado Technical University

3.6%

University of Oklahoma

3.6%

Capella University

3.4%

University of North Texas

3.2%

Michigan State University

3.2%

Texas State University

3.2%
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Majors

Criminal Justice

21.0%

Business

19.6%

Communication

9.2%

Psychology

4.9%

Political Science

4.6%

Management

3.7%

Marketing

3.3%

Computer Information Systems

3.0%

English

2.9%

Information Technology

2.9%

Journalism

2.8%

General Studies

2.7%

Accounting

2.7%

Sociology

2.7%

Nursing

2.4%

Education

2.4%

Computer Science

2.3%

Human Resources Management

2.3%

Public Relations

2.3%

Law

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

36.9%

Masters

24.9%

Other

21.1%

Associate

8.3%

Certificate

4.6%

Doctorate

2.4%

Diploma

1.6%

License

0.3%
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Internship
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Real Communications Officer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Communications Officer, Brand & Insights Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Washington, DC Oct 01, 2014 $132,000 -
$206,000
Senior Communications Officer, Writer Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, WA Mar 30, 2015 $132,000 -
$206,000
Senior Communications Officer Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, WA Apr 29, 2013 $124,913 -
$175,000
Communications Officer, Measurement & Insights Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Washington, DC Apr 04, 2016 $121,118 -
$163,909
Manager, Senior Communications Officer Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, WA Mar 05, 2012 $117,875 -
$175,000
Senior Communications Officer Kings Couty District Attorney's Office New York, NY May 01, 2015 $105,000
Communications Officer, Global Development Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, WA Jun 01, 2011 $92,000 -
$130,270
Communications Officer Open Society Foundations Washington, DC Jun 15, 2014 $90,000
Communications Officer Open Society Foundations Washington, DC May 01, 2014 $90,000
Communications Officer Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, WA Sep 03, 2012 $82,400 -
$115,000
Senior Communicatons Officer, Global Health United Nations Foundation Washington, DC Sep 20, 2013 $82,000
Digital Communications Officer Concern Worldwide (U.S.) Inc. New York, NY Jun 23, 2014 $80,000
Communications Officer-International Harm Reduction Devel Open Society Institute New York, NY Oct 15, 2015 $75,287
Communications Officer United Nations Foundation Washington, DC Sep 20, 2010 $73,000
Communications Officer Open Society Institute New York, NY Oct 15, 2012 $72,000
OCP Association Communications Officer Doctors Without Borders DBA Medecins Sans Frontieres New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $70,900
Desk Communications Officer MÉDecins Sans FrontiÈRes USA, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $69,880
Events, Meetings and Communication Officer World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy New York, NY Jan 25, 2016 $65,427
Social and Community Outreach Officer Melody of Autism Inc. Yorktown Heights, NY Sep 26, 2016 $62,610 -
$73,045
Community Engagement Officer Heifer Project International New York, NY Nov 01, 2011 $62,000
Media and Communications Officer National Academy of Sciences Washington, DC Aug 27, 2012 $55,141 -
$61,235
Communications Officer Bhutan Foundation Washington, DC Oct 01, 2015 $55,000
Advocacy and Communications Officer Committee To Protect Journalists New York, NY Oct 19, 2014 $55,000
Communications Officer Gold and Green Productions Incorporated New York, NY May 15, 2014 $54,000
Fundraising and Communications Officer The Working World Inc. New York, NY Mar 10, 2016 $50,000
Senior Comunication Officer Kings Couty District Attorney's Office New York, NY May 01, 2015 $50,000 -
$110,000
Communications Officer Due Process of Law Foundation Washington, DC Jul 08, 2015 $48,000
Information & Communications Officer Shooting People, Inc. New York, NY Mar 14, 2011 $46,800

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Communications Officer

Average Yearly Salary
$66,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$43,000
Min 10%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$102,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Planned Parenthood
Highest Paying City
Santa Rosa, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Communications Officer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Communications Officer in the United States is $66,539 per year or $32 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $43,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $102,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Communications Officer?

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Top Skills for A Communications Officer

  1. Non-Emergency Calls
  2. Public Safety
  3. Law Enforcement
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Receive and dispatch emergency and non-emergency calls for Federal/Tribal police service.
  • Ensured that information was data encountered correctly to ensure public safety was not further compromised.
  • Operated law enforcement telecommunications system to interface with state and national databases, computer aided dispatch, and local records management systems
  • Answered emergency and non-emergency incoming calls utilizing GSU 911 Telephone System; managed and monitored communication from Atlanta Police Department.
  • Supervised and mentored military, civilian, and contractor personnel responsible for planning, developing and implementing network information systems.

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Top 10 Best States for Communications Officers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New York
  4. Colorado
  5. Virginia
  6. New Jersey
  7. Washington
  8. California
  9. Delaware
  10. Massachusetts
  • (93 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (261 jobs)
  • (119 jobs)
  • (146 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (124 jobs)
  • (627 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (156 jobs)

Top Communications Officer Employers

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Jobs From Top Communications Officer Employers

Communications Officer Videos

Henrico County, Virginia - Communications Officers- Part One.mp4

Career Advice on becoming a Communications Officer by Katie J (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Communications Officer by Owen B (Full Version)

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