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Public Relations Specialists

At a Glance

  • Educate the public about client products and services
  • Write press releases and plan events and news conferences
  • Regularly interact with people
  • May work overtime to meet deadlines
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • Have good writing and organization skills

Career summary

Public relations specialists help build a positive public image for organizations.

Public relations (PR) specialists educate the public about a client's products, accomplishments, or goals. They study what an organization is all about. They ask questions about the product and how it compares with the competition. They may research public opinion. They learn who the customers are, and what image they have of the company and its products.

PR specialists put together a plan for the best way to meet their client's goals. They create events where the public can meet the company or individual. They may organize fundraising events, speaking engagements, or trade shows. They may arrange a promotional campaign on radio, television, the Internet, or through the press. They may decide how much advertising space to buy, and how long each ad will run.

PR specialists may counsel staff to answer the public's questions. They may also represent the company at government, social, or business gatherings. They may write speeches for their employers to give at events, or they may make the presentation themselves.

Public relations specialists prepare and write internal and external newsletters. They write and edit annual reports to inform shareholders about the health of the company. They develop press kits. These may include articles, photographs, or tapes that give the press facts about an upcoming event or an important issue.

PR specialists may create and manage blogs about their clients. They may track what is written about clients on the Internet and in the press.

Public relations workers in the government keep the public informed about the activities of government agencies and officials. They are called:

Related careers

This career is part of the Marketing cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to public relations specialists.

Common work activities

Public relations specialists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, public relations specialists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Public relations specialists frequently:

It is important for public relations specialists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for public relations specialists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Public relations specialists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a public relations specialist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

A bachelor's degree in public relations, journalism, or communications is good preparation for this occupation. Other majors can qualify you as well. The ability to write well is the most important requirement, so take classes that teach writing.

Work experience

Writing for publishing, radio, television, or the Internet can be good preparation.

On-the-job training

Many large firms provide several months of training to new employees. At smaller firms you work as an assistant to experienced workers. You do research, clip articles, and gather information for speeches and press releases.

You should consider participating in an internship while you are in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be public information officers. You need a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation. Training lasts eight weeks. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require specialists to have at least a bachelor's degree. Many employers prefer applicants who majored in public relations, advertising, or communications. Some firms seek graduates who have worked in journalism. Other employers hire people who have strong communication skills and experience in that company's business. For example, a company that sells chemicals may prefer to hire someone who has a background in chemistry. Some employers prefer up to six years of related work experience.

Employers prefer applicants who have experience or have completed an internship. They look for applicants who are creative and able to express thoughts clearly and simply. Skills in decision-making, problem-solving, and research are also important.

When applying for a job, applicants should bring a portfolio. This is a collection of their published articles, television or radio programs, or slide presentations.


Show leadership potential in school clubs and organizations. Get experience through community volunteer work. Develop expertise in a specific public relations area or in an area in which you have natural talents, such as art or a foreign language. Newspaper experience or a background in other journalism-related fields, such as television or radio news writing, is helpful. Familiarity with electronic telecommunications and video equipment is very useful. Create a network by joining professional associations and attending seminars. Be well-read in a variety of subjects such as politics, economic and cultural trends.

Costs to workers

Some workers may have to purchase business attire. Workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Public relations specialists (SOC 27-3031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $19.01 $25.33 $32.29 $40.66 $53.21
Monthly $3,294 $4,390 $5,596 $7,046 $9,221
Yearly $39,530 $52,700 $67,170 $84,570 $110,670
    Bellingham Hourly $19.16 $22.60 $27.14 $31.08 $36.68
Monthly $3,320 $3,917 $4,703 $5,386 $6,357
Yearly $39,857 $46,993 $56,455 $64,656 $76,285
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $19.78 $22.69 $31.04 $42.22 $53.18
Monthly $3,428 $3,932 $5,379 $7,317 $9,216
Yearly $41,139 $47,182 $64,573 $87,813 $110,622
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $14.07 $17.86 $22.87 $33.75 $43.63
Monthly $2,438 $3,095 $3,963 $5,849 $7,561
Yearly $29,271 $37,144 $47,577 $70,197 $90,737
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $20.70 $30.50 $39.46 $49.53 $58.94
Monthly $3,587 $5,286 $6,838 $8,584 $10,214
Yearly $43,063 $63,439 $82,069 $103,019 $122,602
    Longview Hourly $20.97 $22.74 $27.53 $32.15 $39.53
Monthly $3,634 $3,941 $4,771 $5,572 $6,851
Yearly $43,612 $47,305 $57,268 $66,878 $82,206
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $17.36 $20.47 $27.39 $30.38 $35.24
Monthly $3,008 $3,547 $4,747 $5,265 $6,107
Yearly $36,105 $42,568 $56,962 $63,181 $73,298
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $22.03 $28.92 $33.01 $37.95 $49.28
Monthly $3,818 $5,012 $5,721 $6,577 $8,540
Yearly $45,817 $60,168 $68,662 $78,939 $102,519
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $19.17 $25.84 $33.45 $43.25 $57.88
Monthly $3,322 $4,478 $5,797 $7,495 $10,031
Yearly $39,865 $53,746 $69,574 $89,954 $120,387
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $16.31 $20.81 $27.84 $35.23 $42.53
Monthly $2,827 $3,606 $4,825 $6,105 $7,370
Yearly $33,913 $43,270 $57,909 $73,291 $88,459
    Vancouver Hourly $18.09 $24.70 $31.25 $40.25 $50.16
Monthly $3,135 $4,281 $5,416 $6,975 $8,693
Yearly $37,632 $51,390 $65,019 $83,709 $104,334
    Walla Walla Hourly $16.73 $23.34 $30.38 $36.94 $45.76
Monthly $2,899 $4,045 $5,265 $6,402 $7,930
Yearly $34,784 $48,553 $63,186 $76,830 $95,182
    Wenatchee Hourly $20.53 $23.70 $29.64 $35.25 $39.80
Monthly $3,558 $4,107 $5,137 $6,109 $6,897
Yearly $42,697 $49,285 $61,648 $73,328 $82,793
    Yakima Hourly $20.76 $23.84 $30.23 $32.96 $38.88
Monthly $3,598 $4,131 $5,239 $5,712 $6,738
Yearly $43,177 $49,579 $62,866 $68,566 $80,865
United States Hourly $16.20 $21.39 $28.85 $39.21 $54.00
Monthly $2,807 $3,707 $5,000 $6,795 $9,358
Yearly $33,690 $44,490 $60,000 $81,550 $112,310

Pay varies with the worker's education, job duties, and the industry of the employer.

Most employers provide full-time public relations specialists with benefits. Benefits may include health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and a retirement plan. Specialists may receive bonuses for their own, or the company's, success.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Public Relations Specialists (SOC 27-3031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 6,374 19.5% 16.1% 919
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 80 17.5% 13.4% 11
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 102 8.8% 8.6% 12
    Benton and Franklin Counties 143 12.6% 15.0% 18
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 104 17.3% 11.9% 14
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 266 15.8% 15.2% 36
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 778 16.1% 14.1% 105
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 133 21.1% 14.6% 19
    King County 3,876 24.7% 19.6% 610
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 97 11.3% 13.8% 12
    Pierce County 296 12.5% 15.2% 37
    Snohomish County 199 11.1% 12.4% 24
    Spokane County 309 12.0% 13.9% 39
United States 270,000 6.4% 5.2% 30,700

National employment

Public relations workers usually work in large cities. These are where press services and other communications facilities are readily available. Many businesses and trade associations also have their headquarters in big cities. The largest consulting firms are based in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow about as fast as average. Online media requires quick response from public relations specialists. More specialists will also be needed to help companies manage their social media sites as they look for new ways to reach customers. Companies will become more involved in community outreach in order to enhance their reputation. This will create demand for public relations specialists.

Competition for jobs will be very strong.

Other resources

American Journalism Review (external link)
Careers in Space: A Universe of Options (external link)
Institute for Public Relations (external link)
PO Box 118400
2096 Weimer Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611-8400
International Association of Business Communicators (external link)
649 Mission Street
Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
National Communication Association (external link)
1765 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Public Relations Society of America (external link)
120 Wall Street, 21st Fl.
New York, NY 10005-4024
Public Relations Student Society of America (external link)
120 Wall Street, 21st Fl.
New York, NY 10005-4024


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster