Career Information

Many colleagues, administrators, students, parents, decision-makers and members of the general public are interested in the types of careers graduates of the California State University communication departments pursue.

Every year the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducts a national survey of employers to find out what they're looking for in job candidates.

In January 2005, NACE reported on the top 12 important candidate qualities and skills:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Honesty/integrity
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Strong work ethic
  5. Teamwork skills
  6. Analytical skills
  7. Motivation/initiative
  8. Flexibility/adaptability
  9. Computer skills
  10. Detail oriented
  11. Leadership skills
  12. Organizational skills

In the year 2003, the survey results showed the top 10 Qualities/Skills Employers Seek:

  1. Communication skills (verbal & written)
  2. Honesty/integrity
  3. Teamwork skills (works well with others)
  4. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
  5. Motivation/initiative
  6. Strong work ethic
  7. Analytical skills
  8. Flexibility/adaptability
  9. Computer skills
  10. Organizational skills

In year 2000, the results showed the Top 10 Personal Qualities Employers Seek

  1. Communication skills
  2. Motivation/initiative
  3. Teamwork skills
  4. Leadership skills
  5. Academic achievement/GPA
  6. Interpersonal skills
  7. Flexibility/adaptability
  8. Technical skills
  9. Honesty/integrity
  10. Work ethic*
  11. Analytical/problem-solving skills*
              * Tie

In 1997 the results showed employers were looking for the following, in the order listed:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Teamwork Skills
  • Analytical Skills
  • Oral Communication Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Computer Skills
  • Written Communication
  • Leadership
  • Work Experience
  • Internship
  • Co-op Experience

In 1994 and 1995 the top five skills, in rank order, were:

  • Oral Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Teamwork Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Analytical Skills

In 1993 the top five skills, in rank order, were:

  • Proficiency in field of study
  • Oral Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Teamwork Skills
  • Analytical Skills

The survey over the years clearly shows that the kinds of skills developed by Communication majors are highly valued by all kinds of employers. Courses and activities in this department both teach and make use of all five of the skills ranked at the top of the list since 1994, and four out of the top five in 1993.

Students with a degree in Communication are ready to excel in a wide variety of careers.  Additional coursework to prepare for specific careers is helpful and advisable.  Below are listed some broad categories that most commonly come to mind:

According to the National Communication Associations publication, Pathways to Careers in Communication, eleven fields seem highly attractive to our graduates. Of course, all careers and professions require excellent communication skills in order to advance to positions of leadership, and the courses we offer may have slightly different names on our different campuses.  Nevertheless, most of our graduates find careers in Business, Law, Medicine, Education, Government, Media, Public Relations and Advertising, Arts and Entertainment, Social and Human Service, High Technology Industries, and. International Relations and Negotiations.

Business — A 1988 survey of over 1,700 chief executive officers of businesses, ranked the ability to communicate verbally as first on their list of things to look for in new employees. Job titles ranged from manager, public information officer, industrial and labor relations representative, customer service representative, and buyer, to employee trainer and newsletter editor.

Law — Many of our graduates go on to law school where they earn the J.D. degree, where their undergraduate training in research and communication prepare them for advanced study. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell suggested: "The quality of advocacy— the research, briefing and oral argument of the close and difficult case—does contribute significantly to the development of precedents."

Medicine — At all stages of interaction between patients and the health care system, communication affects the outcome. The book, Communicating with Your Doctor (Jones and Phillips) tells us, "A great many medical schools are currently modifying their curricula to include effective communication skills and patient relations." Career opportunities for communication graduates include medical school administration, personnel educator, drug rehabilitation counselor or program administrator, health care counseling.

Education — Every classroom is a communication classroom, and every teacher is a communication teacher, either directly or by providing a model for students. It is likely that every good teacher was a good communicator, no matter what the subject matter, and the poor teachers we remember probably lacked the ability to communicate well, no matter how strong their other subject matter preparation had been. Teachers at all levels, counselors, researchers, administrators, information and public relations officers, directors of debate and forensic programs and college placement and alumni relations personnel are just a few of the communication careers in education.

Government — Good communication has long been recognized as the essential component in a democracy. President Bush reiterated this position in July of 1989 when he said, "Effective communication in today's world is essential to international understanding and to the fostering of peace. The ability to communicate well is especially important in our rapidly changing society where information is essential." Careers include being a public information officer, speechwriter, legislative assistant, campaign director, press secretary, and elected official.

Media — In his book, Mass Media Careers, Joseph Turow tells us that "A well designed communication curriculum can be a joyful liberal arts learning experience that provides problem-solving abilities and perspectives that can be used in many professions." Some career paths for communication graduates include editor, author, copywriter, reporter, actor, announcer, disk jockey, news anchor, producer, manager, and director. 

Public Relations and Advertising — In a 1988 survey of 260 advertising agencies, majors which emphasized communication, journalism, liberal arts, English, art, and public relations were most mentioned by recruiters (Gaudino). The United States Department of Labor predicts a 35% increase in the number of public relations and advertising positions in the future. Jobs involving publicity manager, marketing specialists, sales manager, media analyst would be possible careers.

Arts and Entertainment — Arts are considered the oldest form of human communication, as cave paintings attest. Beyond the obvious careers for talented artists, persons trained in communication will be needed to be theatre and gallery administrators, managers, consultants, agents, promoters, travel and convention directors, reviewers and critics, fund raisers and tourist directors, guides and docents.

Social and Human Services — Essential human services are often made effective by persons with communication degrees. Public administration, ministry, social workers, recreational workers and administrators, human rights officers and advocates, community affairs liaison, park service administrators and coordinators, human service counseling and public relations are all careers which knowledge and skill in communication are important.

High Technology Industries — John Scully, Chairman of Apple Computers said, "In the Information Age economy, the strategic resources are no longer coming out of the ground, but out of our minds. The power of ideas and information determine who has the power in the world today." ( Vital Speeches). Thosewho best understand the communication process would find rewarding careers as trainers in the use of communication technologies, producers of closed circuit television, systems analysts, technical copywriter, psycholinguistic and cognitive science researcher, audio and visual computer display specialist and performance assessor.

International Relations and Negotiations — In a survey of 200 major international institutions, including both private corporations and public agencies the five skills ranked as most important in international relations were 1) ability to analyze information; 2) problem solving skills; 3) empathetic and critical listening skills; 4) verbal skills; and 5) writing skills. These five areas are the core of communication curriculum and the heart of the discipline. Careers include reporter or producer for media agencies with private or public concerns such as United Nations; international corporation representative, international tour coordinator, diplomat, foreign relations officer, correspondent.