Public Relations Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

While in high school, take courses in English, journalism, public speaking, humanities, and languages because public relations is based on effective communication with others. Courses such as these will develop your skills in written and oral communication as well as provide a better understanding of different fields and industries to be publicized.

Postsecondary Training

Most people employed in public relations service have a college degree. Major fields of study most beneficial to developing the proper skills are public relations, English, communications, business, and journalism. Some employers feel that majoring in the area in which the public relations person will eventually work is the best training. Knowledge of business administration is most helpful as is innate talent for selling. A graduate degree may be required for managerial positions. People with a bachelor's degree in public relations can find staff positions with either an organization or a public relations firm. Visit for a list of colleges and universities that offer certified public relations programs.

Many colleges and graduate schools offer degree programs or special courses in public relations. In addition, many other colleges offer at least courses in the field. Public relations programs are sometimes administered by the journalism or communication departments of schools. In addition to courses in theory and techniques of public relations, interested individuals may study organization, management and administration, and practical applications and often specialize in areas such as business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Other preparation includes courses in creative writing, psychology, communications, advertising, and journalism.

Other Education or Training

The Public Relations Society of America offers a wealth of continuing education classes, webinars, seminars, and workshops on topics such as crisis communications strategy, public relations writing, branding strategies, digital media, social media, and community relations and employee communications. The International Association of Business Communicators, Canadian Public Relations Society, National School Public Relations Association, and the Public Affairs Council also provide CE resources. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and the Canadian Public Relations Society accredit public relations workers who meet educational and work experience requirements and pass a comprehensive examination. Such accreditation is a sign of competence in this field, although it is not a requirement for employment.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience one can obtain in the field of public relations—such as an internship, volunteering, or a part-time job—will be useful for aspiring PR professionals. 

Today's public relations specialist must be a businessperson first, both to understand how to perform successfully in business and to comprehend the needs and goals of the organization or client. Additionally, successful PR specialists are strong writers and speakers, and have good interpersonal, leadership, problem-solving, and organizational skills.