Digital Communications Education
Digital communications offers a broad range of specializations and career opportunities.
If hands-on experience and a strong portfolio are essential to advancing within the digital communications marketplace, then why invest in continuing education?
The communications industry is projected to grow four percent before 2024, and while career opportunities exist in a variety of fields there is still intense competition for jobs and advancement.
As new media platforms emerge, companies are seeking to employ and promote those on the cusp of what is new in order to create, translate and disseminate information to key audiences.
An advanced degree provides specialized training in the latest platforms and consumer targeting tools, as well as a focus on leadership and team management that can make a candidate more enticing to hiring managers.
How to Choose a Digital Communications Program
While some prefer the traditional classroom environment, the flexibility in terms of time, location, and course offerings online may prove more enticing.
For those already established within their chosen careers, and working full-time, online degrees are often the most convenient as they allow for continued education without gaps in employment.
Accreditation is an important factor when choosing an MA, MS, MBA or certificate program. The only thing gained from choosing a subpar program is debt since credentials earned from unaccredited programs don’t add up to much on a resume.
If a school is accredited it means that it has been evaluated by education authorities to ensure the quality of its offerings. There is also a substantial difference between types of accreditation, be it regional, national, or specialized.
It may come as a surprise, but regional accreditation is actually the superior option. More than 85% of colleges in the US are regionally accredited, as are a vast majority of online schools. These institutions adhere to stricter admissions guidelines, and often cost a bit more than nationally accredited counterparts.
Specialized accreditations apply to specific fields of study and are applied to certain programs within larger universities and governed by individual boards to ensure quality of education.
Digital Communications Certificate, Master’s Degree or MBA?
Whether to pursue a certificate or advanced degree can depend on individual career needs. If time and cost are a factor, many accredited institutions offer online degrees and certificates designed for working professionals that can be completed at a more flexible pace while simultaneously continuing full-time employment.
Certificates and Certifications can help job seekers and those looking to make advancements training in a specialized area in a shorter period of time.
What’s the difference between Certifications and Certificates?
“Certifications” allow you to earn a designation after your name (Ex: DMA, CPM). The education will typically include an experience either online or in-person and requires passing an exam.
A “certificate” program requires completion of a course or series of specialized courses. Certificate programs are most commonly offered by colleges and universities at the post-bachelor’s level.
MA, MS and MBA offerings are more in-depth, customized curricula with programs focusing on a particular area of expertise, with the added value of courses in leadership and management.
The ROI of Advanced Education in Digital Communications
Digital communications professionals with master’s degrees and specific specializations are better paid than those without, and are more suitable for internal advancement opportunities within their organization.
According to a recent study, employees with graduate degrees in advertising and public relations can expect to earn an average of 12 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree, while mass media students average an 11 percent increase.
For those in management positions holding a master’s degree, anticipated yearly salaries average $78,000 compared to $61,000 for those with solely a bachelor’s degree**.
The most common advanced degree held by those in leadership positions is an MBA with a specialization in Marketing and Management. These professionals earn an average of $100,000 annually, nearly double those with a traditional bachelor’s degree*.
Look for online programs affiliated with established institutions to ensure that you receive a top-quality online education.
*Payscale.com, January 2017
**Bureau of Labor Services; accessed January 2017
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