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 Indeed.com, 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.