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The career paths of people with communication degrees

After graduating, the great majority of these students (89%) did work in media, journalism, public relations or somewhere in communication, at least for some time. Most have had several such jobs.

Number of jobs Percent
Never had a full-time job in media 11.4%
1 19.4%
2-3 33.8%
4-5 20.4%
6+ 15.0%

Data Source: Question: How many full-time jobs in journalism, media, advertising or public relations, if any, have you had?

American Press Institute

The largest number of people have had two to three jobs in media since graduation, and that doesn’t change much whether someone graduated between 2015 or decades earlier. Indeed, some people who graduated in the last decade have had four to five jobs already, and a few even six ore more.

Number of jobs 1980 and before 1981-1995 1996-2005 2006-2015
Never had full-time job in media 5.9% 7.8% 9.4% 13.3%
1 9.7% 10.9% 13.6% 25.7%
2-3 23.6% 24.4% 31.4% 31.4%
4-5 21.3% 23.9% 19.4% 7.0%
6+ 22.7% 18.4% 9.9% 2.1%

Data Source: Question: How many full-time jobs in journalism, media, advertising or public relations, if any, have you had?

American Press Institute

Most of these graduates who got media jobs, moreover, got their first one relatively quickly, within six months of graduating.  Have more recent graduates, those who left school in 2006 or later, had a harder time? No. In every graduation cohort, the majority had jobs within six months–69% of those who graduated between 1981 and 1995, 71% among those who graduated between 1996 and 2005, and 71% among the most recent graduation cohort, those who got their degrees between 2006 and 2015, during the economic upheaval.

1980 and before graduates 1981-95 graduates 1996-2005 graduates 2006-15 graduates
Before / right after graduation 51.3% 37.1% 36.2% 33.4%
1-6 months 27.6% 32.2% 34.4% 37.9%
6-12 months 7.9% 15.3% 14.1% 15.3%
12-18 months 5.2% 5.9% 7.0% 6.9%
Longer than 19 months 8.0% 9.5% 8.2% 6.5%

Data Source: Question: How long after you finished school did you get your first full-time job in media?

American Press Institute

One perennial question students ask is the path people took to find their jobs. The answer is there is no one path that stands out. Self-reliance matters, however.  The largest number of these graduates, nearly 1 in 4, said they found their first job through a website or ad they discovered on their own (24%) or cold call or unsolicited application (14%). Internships were also important, with 16% saying they found their first job through that connection. Family members and friends mattered (13%) almost as much, as did professional network connections people had made (11%) as did academic or faculty referral. Add to that 10% citing faculty help those who discovered the job the college career office or Listserv (4%) and Alumni help (4%) and 18% mentioned formal university connections.

Method Percent
On a website or print advertisement 24.3%
Through a connection made at an internship 15.9%
Through a cold call or unsolicited application 13.8%
Through a family member or friend 13.2%
Through my network of professionals 11.0%
Through an academic or faculty referral 10.0%
Through alumni 3.6%
In resources from my college career services 3.5%
At a career fair 1.9%
Through an employment agency 1.8%
On a college Listserv 1.0%

Data Source: Question: How did you find your first full-time job in media?

American Press Institute

Finally, the survey asked about starting salaries. This number data is a little harder to evaluate. The starting salaries of people in different graduation eras cannot be easily compared. Even those graduating just in the most recent period, 2006 to 2015 spans a decade. Starting salaries clearly have risen, and among the graduates of these schools at least, most people are starting at $30,000 or above.

1980 and before graduates 1981-95 graduates 1996-2005 graduates 2006-15 graduates
Less than $20,000 63.5% 44.3% 15.3% 6.3%
$20,000 to $24,999 7.0% 17.0% 16.6% 9.5%
$25,000 to $29,999 2.6% 7.6% 15.9% 11.0%
$30,000 to $34,999 1.6% 3.6% 12.1% 14.8%
$35,000 to $39,999 0.4% 1.6% 5.6% 8.3%
$40,000 to $44,999 0.6% 0.9% 3.7% 6.5%
$45,000 to $49,999 0.2% 0.5% 1.3% 3.3%
$50,000 to $54,999 0.5% 0.4% 1.1% 2.6%
$55,000 to $60,000 0% 0.1% 0.4% 1.1%
Higher than $60,000 0.2% 0.5% 1.0% 1.7%

Data Source: Question: What salary range did you start at in your first full-time job in media?

American Press Institute

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