No set qualifications are required to become a public relations (PR) officer, but most entrants tend to have a degree or HND. There are few specific PR degree courses available, and entry to the profession is generally open to all graduates. However, as PR ranks as one of the most popular career choices for graduates in the UK, the following degree/HND subjects may be particularly helpful:
Postgraduate qualifications in PR are available and may improve your chances of securing a position. However, it will not guarantee a job or replace the personal qualities and experience that employers are looking for. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) offers the Foundation Award in Public Relations, an introductory qualification which is taught at A-level standard. This is for those considering PR as a career option, such as students, or for those working in PR in a support role.
Pre-entry experience in PR, communications, marketing and media industries is highly desirable, although relevant paid experience may be difficult to find.
Volunteering is a very useful way of gaining experience. Helping at a local charity can give you exposure to planning events, contacting media outlets and writing press releases and articles. It can be helpful to keep a record of anything you have organised or written. Employers also like graduates with experience of writing for student magazines or who have been involved with student radio or university societies.
It is worth contacting your university careers service, as they may have details of PR work placements available, which will provide valuable experience. Students can also join the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) at a reduced rate. The benefits of becoming a student member of the CIPR include access to details of work placements and opportunities to network with employers. The CIPR will also provide details of graduate training schemes.
Candidates need to show evidence of the following:
Joining a consultancy or in-house PR department in a junior role, such as a PR assistant, may be a good starting point. Since many PR departments and consultancies are small and not rigidly structured, there are likely to be many opportunities for junior staff who demonstrate the right mix of ability and commitment to develop their career from this level. Entry as a secretary or administrator has also been known to lead to professional opportunities.
With the competition that exists for jobs in this field, it is essential to look beyond the surface (the glamorous image) to discover the pressures as well as the satisfactions of a career in PR and decide whether you are suited to it.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.