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The Salary of Entry Level Public Relations

By Wendy Lau

Select from many industries for an entry level public relations career.

It is possible to enter the public relations profession whether you have a degree in communication, or in another area, such as biology, technology, or fashion. Public relations is vital in almost every industry, but an educational background specific to a particular industry is a valuable attribute that can help with communication to various publics of the industry. The different paths available for an entry level public relations professional means salaries can vary based on industry and the type of businesses or organizations the position is for.

Public Relations Firm

A public relations firm is one starting point an entry level public relations professional can take. Working at a firm, you may be involved with one major client, or with several client programs. Agency environments offer beginning public relations professionals broad experience, with opportunities to be involved in multiple PR programs at play. The average entry level public relations salary at a public relations firm is in the low $30,000 range, as noted in an article from the Wall Street Journal. The agency's specialty can also impact salary offers. Technical fields may afford higher salaries for employees. Public relations agencies offer titles such as assistant account coordinator, assistant account executive, or account coordinator for entry level professionals.

In-House Public Relations

You may also choose to start your public relations career in an in-house position. This typically means working within the communications or marketing department of a company. It offers a valuable learning environment as well, since you have direct access to and involvement with the company's decision-makers. In many instances, you have a role in helping to influence corporate decisions and strategies. The average salary is generally higher than that of PR firms, coming in at $43,000 for a communications coordinator, according to job tracking website, as of 2012. In-house entry level public relations roles come with titles such as corporate communications associate, communications coordinator, or marketing coordinator.


Since nonprofits exist for a cause rather than profits, the pay is often lower than that of professionals working at commercial firms. The environment also can be less hectic and stressful. You benefit from learning to work creatively with lower budgets while taking part in a good cause. Entry level public relations professionals can expect to enter as an intern, earning anything from no pay to a salary of around $24,000, according to WetFeet. If you can advance to the public relations manager or press secretary role at a nonprofit, salaries can start around $30,000. Nonprofit entry level public relations positions come with titles such as intern, press assistant, or public affairs assistant.


Location impacts salaries for entry level public relations professionals. According to U.S. News & World Report's Best Jobs 2012 report, public relations professionals in metropolitan areas were paid higher salaries than their rural counterparts. While the average salary for a PR specialist in 2010 was $52,092, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, top metropolitan cities had much higher average salaries. The top performing cities included Victoria, Texas, with the average salary at $89,270; San Jose, Calif., with the average salary at $84,810; and Washington, D.C., with the average salary at $81,160, as outlined by U.S. News & World Report. Between the top 10 percent of earners and bottom 10 percent of earners, there was a difference of as much as $64,640.



Writer Bio

Wendy Lau entered the communication field in 2001. She works as a freelance writer and prior to that was a PR executive responsible for health care clients' written materials. Her writing experience include technical articles, corporate materials, online articles, blogs, byline articles, travel itineraries and business profile listings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in corporate communications from Ithaca College.


Entry Level Salary for Public Relations Specialists

The average salary for an entry level Public Relations Specialist is $39,860. An experienced Public Relations Specialist makes about $59,041 per year.

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. Find more career information.

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Salary Outlook with a Public Relations Degree

Reading Time: 6minutes

Earning a degree in public relations offers professionals the opportunity to excel in many desirable careers and earn a good salary. With solid public relations skills, it is possible to work as the public face of many organizations in industries that vary from private to public to nonprofits. Public relations professionals are frequently the cornerstones of these organizations and how they relate to the public.

The level of salary that you can earn with a public relations degree will depend upon several factors:

  • Whether you earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in public relations
  • The type of public relations career path you choose
  • Your years of experience in public relations
  • The industry in which you work

Level of Public Relations Degree

The first important factor for your salary level with a public relations degree is the level of the degree. Research has shown over time that obtaining a master’s degree can net you a higher salary for most of your career. A Georgetown University study from 2015 determined that the average salary for a bachelor’s degree holder was $61,000 and was $78,000 for a master’s degree holder. This is a salary increase of $17,000.

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS has found that the median salary for workers with a master’s degree in 2013 was $68,000 and $56,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree. also reports that the average salary for public relations professionals with a bachelor’s degree is as follows for these jobs:

  • Marketing coordinator: $40,300
  • Marketing manager: $54,800
  • Marketing specialist: $46,800
  • Account coordinator: $33,500

For a master’s degree, these are the average salaries according to

  • Marketing manager: $61,000
  • Communications manager: $77,400
  • Marketing coordinator: $44,400
  • Public relations manager: $58,300
  • Marketing communications manager: $60,200 reports that the average salary for a public relations manager with a bachelor’s degree is $101,000, and with a master’s degree it is $105,000.

Interested in a Public Relations Degree? Follow These Job Tips

If you are interested in a public relations career, getting a public relations degree is a good first step. But you can also make your career thrive with these pointers:

  • Personality matters: You do not have to know everything about public relations when you first start in the field. But when you get a job in the field, the company will want to see that you are enthusiastic, ready to learn and smart. This means that you should have a dynamic personality and be able to communicate effectively. These traits will always help you, but they are really important when you do not have as much experience and knowledge. If your boss cannot imagine you making a phone call with a reporter or talking effectively with a client, it can be hard to do well in this career.
  • Get an internship: Many people who hire public relations professionals report they will usually choose people who have relevant internship experience. School will teach you a great deal, but there is nothing more important in PR than on the job experience. Being successful in PR requires you to be able to multitask and to be able to think on your feet. Having a track record in these areas from internship experience means a lot.
  • Other degrees can work: Having a public relations degree is important, but it it possible to be successful in PR with a marketing degree, English degree or even an economics background.
  • Be ready for the interview: If you want to get a public relations job, you should come to the interview ready. Do homework about the company you are interviewing for so that you can ask intelligent questions, and be able to sell the interviewer on your strengths.

Types of Public Relations Career

A major factor in your compensation level is the type of occupation that you choose in the PR field. There are many jobs that have something to do with public relations, and the salary will vary quite a bit based upon your choice. Below are some common jobs and salaries that you can have with this degree.

Public relations specialist

A public relations specialist is responsible for creating and maintaining a favorable public image for the entity or person they represent. They are responsible for designing press releases and social media campaigns to provide a positive public perception of the entity or person. They also are in charge of increasing awareness of the person, entity or goals of the company. These professionals may also be referred to as communications specialists or media specialists, and generally handle the communications with the public, such as consumers, investors, reporters and other stakeholders. See also Salary Outlook with Masters in Communications Degree.

The median salary for public relations specialists in 2016 was $58,000 with a range of $32,000 to $110,500.

Public relations and fundraising manager

A public relations manager is responsible for planning and directing the creation of materials that maintain or boost the image of the client or employer. Fundraising managers are responsible for coordinating campaigns that bring in donations to various types of organizations.

Public relations managers are in charge of clarifying the point of view for their organization, typically done through interviews and press releases. In a larger company the PR manager may be the supervisor for several PR specialists. They also will work closely with marketing and promotions managers to ensure that ad and social  media campaigns are related to the image that they want to give to the public.

Fundraising managers are largely in charge of the types of fundraising campaigns are used to raise money. Some of the most common methods today include annual campaign drives, capital campaigns, planned giving and making cold calls for major financial gifts. Social media also has led to many new paths for raising money that fundraising managers need to be able to take advantage of.

BLS reports the median salary for PR and fundraising managers was $107,300 in 2016, with a range between $59,000 and $205,000.

Other related professionals and their salaries in the PR field include:

  • Advertising sales agents: Sell advertising to individuals and businesses. Responsible for contacting potential clients, making sales pitches and maintaining accounts for clients: $50,300.
  • Advertising, promotions and marketing managers: Plan promotions and programs to increase interest in a variety of products and services. They often work closely with sales agents, art directors and finance professionals: $127,500.
  • Corporate communications manager: In charge of management of the communication efforts of a company. Must review and approve statements by the organization and develop partnerships with other organizations to further the objectives of the company: $77,300.
  • Market research analysts: Study the conditions of the market to determine what the possible sales of a new product or service could be. They assist companies in learning the type of products that people want and the price they are able to pay: $62,500.

Work Experience

As with most occupations, the level of experience you have in public relations will influence your salary level. For example, reports that a public relations manager will have a $51,000 average salary with less than five years of experience. With 5-10 years of experience, this salary will be at an average of $68,000, and for 10-20 years of experience, the salary level is $76,000. However, for professionals with more than 20 years of experience, the average salary falls to $75,000.

For a public relations specialist, the average salary for five years of experience is $42,000, and $53,000 with 5-10 years of experience. For those with 10-20 years of experience, the average salary is $58,000, and for more than 20 years, the salary is $60,000.


The last major factor that can determine your salary level in public relations is the industry in which you work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can have these types of salaries for public relations and fundraising managers based upon industry or sector:

  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $133,700
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $125,900
  • Educational services: $100,000
  • Religious organization: $99,200

For public relation specialists, the salary level by industry is as follows:

  • Government: $62,400
  • Business, labor, political and professional organizations: $60,200
  • Advertising, PR and related organizations: $59,400
  • Educational services: $53,800

Also keep in mind in the PR world that there are agency positions and in house positions. This can lead to different salaries. For example, here are some PR agency position salary ranges based upon information from Paradigm Staffing:

  • Account coordinator: $35,000 to $45,000
  • Account executive: $45,000 to $58,000
  • Senior account executive: $52,000 to $70,000
  • Account director: $80,000 to $120,000
  • VP: $100,000 to $150,000

On the other hand, in house PR positions tend to have slightly higher salaries, especially when you first start out:

  • PR specialist: $40,000 to $65,000
  • PR manager: $65,000 to $120,000
  • VP: $140,000 to $195,000

With a public relations degree, you will have ample opportunity to earn an a solid living, and can earn a high salary if you follow the tips provided above.

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Henry Steele
Managing Editor

Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

Communications Major: Good Or Bad Degree?

Public Relations Careers

Ready to start your journey?

Public relations (PR) majors engage with practical strategies and theoretical models for managing the public-facing images of individuals, companies, and organizations. The digital age has had a profound impact on the PR industry, creating an entirely new generation of specializations oriented toward digital media. This guide explores the many exciting and challenging career possibilities for a public relations major.

A man in a suit is surrounded by reporters holding out microphones and recorders to hear what he has to say.

Why Pursue a Career in Public Relations?

Careers in public relations hold strong appeal for ambitious individuals who crave variety in their daily job duties and enjoy helping others leverage and promote their best qualities. Those who succeed in public relations careers typically possess open-mindedness, sociability, a keen eye for detail, and the ability to thrive in high-pressure environments.

PR professionals must spin events and details into cohesive narratives that present clients in a positive light. Thus, they need high levels of persuasiveness and a strong understanding of rhetoric as it relates to spoken and written language.

Public Relations Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects demand for qualified PR professionals to keep pace with overall growth in the American job market between 2018-2028. For example, the BLS projects a 6% growth rate for public relations specialists over that period, which is in line with the national average for all occupations.

Public relations professionals often command above-average salaries, especially as they gain experience. The following table highlights typical pay rates at various stages of common PR career paths:

Job TitleEntry-Level
(0-12 months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
Public Relations Specialist$40,280$45,700$58,470$61,370
Public Relations Coordinator$35,850$40,410$49,730$52,220
Public Relations Manager$44,520$56,290$70,820$77,750
Public Relations DirectorN/A$53,940$81,890$97,190

Source: PayScale

Skills Gained with a Public Relations Degree

Students pursuing a public relations degree learn to craft a public relations strategy, align public relations goals with advertising and marketing strategies, and build favorable public images for their organizations. The degree strengthens several key skills that benefit public relations professionals in the workforce, such as written communication and public speaking.

Public Relations Career Paths

Students can often specialize their public relations degrees by choosing concentrations that align with their desired career path. A concentration in advertising, for example, provides training in broadcast and print advertising, product placement, and copywriting. Similarly, a media relations concentration includes coursework in strategic communications and methods to shape public perception through media.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

These concentrations prepare graduates for specialized public relations careers after graduation. Students should note that concentrations vary by program, so they should be sure to research the concentration offerings at each prospective school. The following list outlines several common career paths for public relations graduates.

How to Start Your Career in Public Relations

PR firms and departments increasingly prefer to hire candidates with specialized degrees. Some overlap exists between PR and fields like marketing, communications, and business administration, but PR professionals particularly benefit from earning a degree in PR.

For some entry-level roles and job paths with limited growth potential, an associate or bachelor's degree may suffice. However, if your career plans include leadership roles, such as a PR manager or director, you likely need at least a master's degree to keep pace with your competition. Some ambitious PR professionals may earn a doctoral degree to further differentiate themselves in the job market.

How to Advance Your Career in Public Relations

Prospective PR professionals should consider supplementing their public relations degree with additional training. Common examples include optional professional certifications and continuing education programs, both of which signal expertise in and commitment to the field.

Certifications And/Or Licensure

Currently, no PR-related career paths require candidates to earn or maintain formal, regulated licenses. However, many reputable professional organizations offer certification programs that deliver formal credentials endorsing specific skills.

For example, the Global Communication Certification Council offers two advanced certification programs to members: the Communication Management Professional (CMP®) designation for generalist practitioners and the Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP®) credential for specialist professionals.

Continuing Education

The professional certifications mentioned in the previous section can double as excellent continuing education initiatives. Professionals can often pursue these learning opportunities remotely while they continue to work their current job. If you already hold a PR degree, limit your search to professional programs for graduates. These programs typically focus on niche, in-demand skills and proficiencies designed to advance your career.

You can also advance your career through a higher degree. An advanced degree can position graduates for leadership roles in the field.

Next Steps

PR professionals can further advance their career through professional organizations. These organizations may routinely put on events, conferences, and conventions where you can meet and interact with like-minded people in the PR industry.

Most professional organizations welcome students into their ranks. Many even offer membership discounts to current students and recent graduates, giving you further incentive to become active at an early stage of your career development.

How to Switch Your Career to Public Relations

Careers in public relations overlap with numerous other fields. People with degrees and experience in marketing, business management and administration, and communications can potentially transition into public relations jobs without earning a specialized degree. However, you can boost your chances of success by adding some PR-specific schooling to your CV.

To this end, you can pursue professional programs and advanced certifications. Heading back to school to get an advanced degree can also help. Depending on your academic background, you may qualify for master's programs in public relations if you already hold a bachelor's degree in a related field.

If you do not already have a bachelor's degree or if you completed a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, enrolling in an undergraduate PR degree program may serve you well. Candidates with existing college-level schooling often qualify for advanced standing and transfer credits, which can greatly reduce your expected graduation timeline.

Where Can You Work as a Public Relations Professional?

PR professionals work in diverse industries and enjoy many employment opportunities. They may work for agencies, companies, or themselves. Salaries and opportunities are typically greater in well-populated urban areas with high concentrations of cutting-edge industries than in rural settings or places with low population densities.


Public relations professionals can work in a variety of industries, including advertising, marketing, and education. They may also work for nonprofit organizations, grantmaking organizations, or broadcast media companies.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


According to BLS statistics, the U.S. jurisdictions that host the largest number of PR jobs include, in descending order, California, Texas, New York state, the District of Columbia (D.C), and Florida. In many cases, high job densities spilled over to neighboring jurisdictions, such as New Jersey for New York and Virginia and Maryland for D.C.

The jurisdictions with the highest average pay rates for PR jobs follow a similar pattern. The BLS identifies D.C., New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington state as the five localities where PR professionals make the most money. Notably, average salaries in D.C. outpaced the second-place finisher, New Jersey, by more than one-third.


Interview With a Professional in Public Relations

Resources for Public Relations Majors

This section provides important resources for prospective students considering a public relations degree, including professional organizations, open courseware and other free learning opportunities, and esteemed publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Bachelor of Arts (BA), Public Relations (PR) Degree

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Public Relations Specialists

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