How to Become a Public Relations Agent: Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a public relations agent. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in public relations.

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Requirements for Public Relations Agents

Public relations (PR) agents plan and execute strategic public image campaigns for their clients. They may also work together with corporate marketing, advertising and human resources departments to execute specific communications and image enhancement programs. Generally, the minimum education requirement to become a public relations manager or specialist is a bachelor's degree. Additional training is completed on the job. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a public relations specialist or manager as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Common Requirements
Degree LevelBachelor's degree
Degree FieldPublic relations, journalism, communications or a related field
CertificationCertification is available from organizations like the Public Relations Society of America, but it is not required
ExperienceVaries; entry-level jobs may be available for PR specialists, but public relations managers need several years of industry experience
Key SkillsOrganizational, research and problem-solving skills, ability to communicate well and deal with the public

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

A bachelor's degree in public relations, communications or journalism is preferred for careers in public relations. Aspiring PR agents may also want to consider courses in public speaking, advertising, business administration and creative writing, even if they are not required for graduation.

Success Tip:

  • Seek an internship. By securing an internship while in college, aspiring PR agents can build their professional networks and acquire valuable on-the-job training. Some degree programs grant college credit for internships.

Step 2: Complete On-the-job Training

With a degree in hand, aspiring public relations agents can apply for entry-level public relations positions, such as PR specialist or account executive. According to the BLS, most employers require new PR staff to complete on-the-job training, which may be delivered through a formal program or informally by experienced supervisors. Depending on the company, the training period can last anywhere from one month to a full year. At the entry level, training is typically interspersed with basic tasks such as filing and conducting research. After training is complete, the new employee may graduate to more traditional PR agent duties, such as writing press releases and planning campaigns.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) offer their members career development tools like training and networking opportunities. Joining such an organization may help aspiring public relations agents advance their careers.
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