Communication skills are desirable in every industry, but they’re especially crucial to professionals in certain roles. Candidates for jobs in marketing, social media, public relations and internal communications are ideally suited to pursue a master’s degree in communication. But employees in all industries can benefit from an enhanced understanding of effective messaging. Employers consistently consider oral and written communication skills essential competencies for new hires, no matter the field.
Earning a Master of Arts in Professional Communication provides the training communications professionals can leverage to distinguish themselves and advance their careers.
Employers Consider Communication an Essential Skill
Though it’s termed a “soft skill,” effective communication is one of the most important attributes employers seek in a new hire. Executives and hiring managers have for years cited it at or near the top of their lists of desired qualifications. Even when a job description doesn’t directly mention communications skills, it’s generally an asset that managers expect and value.
Recent research conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified oral and written communications as one of eight core career readiness competencies. For the last three years, employers responding to NACE’s job outlook surveys rated communication as an “above essential” job skill, ranking it higher than digital technology and leadership. Critical thinking took the list’s number one spot, which is further good news for communications graduates. Their studies in media analysis prepare them to critically analyze the source and objectives of news, social media and public discourse.
Yet not all employers can find applicants with outstanding skills in those areas; respondents to the survey rated newly hired college graduates between “somewhat proficient” and “very proficient” in their communication.
Not only can communication skills help applicants land a job, but they’re essential to career advancement as well. Employees with communication expertise are better prepared to convey their plans and ideas both within a company and to external parties. They’re also confident in public speaking and excel at giving and receiving feedback, all of which are important for managerial and leadership roles.
Advancing in a Communications Career
A master’s degree in professional communication can open the door to advancement in a communications career beyond the jobs one might be offered with a bachelor’s degree. Such positions include:
- Senior Communications Specialist
- Public Relations Manager
- Senior Manager of Communications
These communications roles require not only interpersonal communication skills, but proficiency with the theory and practice of strategic and professional communications.
In Southern Utah University’s online Master of Arts in Professional Communication, coursework in audience messaging as well as professional writing and presentation is customized to a student’s particular area of interest, whether it be marketing, advertising, public relations, social media management or consulting. Additionally, the program culminates in an individualized thesis or capstone project that encourages self-directed learning. That thesis or project can be tailored to a student’s desired career focus, providing real-world experience.
Communication Skills Are Transferable
Transferable skills provide flexibility in one’s career path. A master’s degree in professional communication is an investment applicable to numerous careers, not just those in communications. Audience engagement, social media strategy, qualitative research gathering and professional writing are easily applied to jobs in human resources or fundraising, in addition to the more traditional career paths of public relations, media and marketing. Graduates can apply their education and training to careers across the private, government and nonprofit sectors.
Being able to write and speak well is an in-demand asset in today’s workforce. Employees with strong communication skills are well prepared for professional success, whether they work in the communications field or in other related sectors.