Don’t expect a big surprise when reading our answer to this question: No, a formal certificate of any kind of curriculum is definitely not necessary to work and survive in PR – as many agency owners, pr managers and employees without a degree can tell you from their experience.

But having said this, of course, there is something to add. While the certificate itself is just a piece of paper and the title is just a combination of a few letters, the meaning of a title and a certificate – and thus of a college degree –  lies in the qualification it indicates. And those qualifications are more than ever relevant to a successful and satisfying career in the communication industry, wherever around the globe you want to start it. But it’s all about those skills and not about where you earned them.

So, no matter what it is called in the various countries – college, universidad, université or วิทยาลัย – this kind of educational level implies that you have trained various techniques that are hugely important for PR pros like:

  • Researching information – by knowing which sources are promising, relevant and credible
  • Assessing huge loads of information in a short time and finding out what the main points and messages are
  • Being able to sum up dispersed information and quickly find the common points
  • Learning to present and defend ideas, findings and results
  • Critically interpreting results from surveys, studies and other sources to separate serious stuff from garbage
  • Having skills in introducing thoughts, leading discussions and convincing others to listen to you
  • Anticipating questions, objections and resistance – and preparing the right answers and tactics
  • Showing communicative intelligence by listening to others, respecting and valuing different opinions while sticking with your own arguments
  • Being able to listen to others patiently, to reflect yourself critically and to express yourself unmistakeably

All those qualities are essential for a career in the vast field of media and opinion management (and not only there!). It’s not important where you gain and train them but that you have them in your professional toolbox. You have them without a degree? Great, be proud of it. You have a college degree? Fine, but never forget that once you leave college, the journey only begins.

2 thoughts on “Is a College Degree Necessary to Work in PR?

  1. Great blog, Robert. I would add that a college degree can go a long way towards helping students learn how to write and therefore be better prepared for a career in PR. Cheers, David

  2. Super round-up of many of the capabilities in public relations informed by higher education. Ethical thinking and counsel is another skill set that can be enhanced through formal professional education..

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