Today even a toll road, such as Pocahontas 895 in Richmond, Va., has its own publicist, reports The New York Times. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that jobs in the field of public relations (PR) are expected to grow by 24 percent between 2011 and 2018. The Times article features Mary Ellin Arch, who at age 51 was laid off from The Richmond Times-Dispatch and made a career change from journalist to public relations. She is now spokeswoman for Pocahontas 895.
With fewer journalism job opportunities available as many newspapers have either gone out of business or downsized greatly, many journalists have migrated to either into some form of online publishing or into the field of PR. Fewer jobs in journalism mean that many college students with a passion for the written word are now majoring in communications as opposed to journalism.According to PR Week, more than 300 institutions of higher learning offer bachelor's degrees in communications. Many of those wishing to obtain entrance to the field have earned a M.S. in some branch of public relations at universities such as NYU, Columbia, Syracuse, Boston University or the University of Miami. There are however, leaders in the profession such as Jack O'Dwyer, publisher of Odwyerpr.com, who view education beyond college as unnecessary for PR work.
Those in career transition have diverse options to learn both the technical side of PR work as well as how to to sell themselves to potential employers and clients.
Teach Yourself. You can read up on the fundamentals, cold call organizations and individuals to do assignments, either on a volunteer or low-cost basis, and then pull all those experiences together into a resume which tell your story.
Internships. Apply for unpaid or paid internships with one of the many companies that do PR work. These days, an ever increasing amount of internships are being created and are advertised online. It's becoming more common that those in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s are adding to or updating their skills through internships.
Formal Education. There are courses, certificate programs, and degrees which can be obtained with both a part-time as well as full-time course-load. Your choice can take the form of a seminar at a community college or a course provided by a professional organization. There is the five-course certificate program at Georgetown University for $12,500. Or you can attend Columbia's School of Continuing Education to earn a part-time, 36-credit M.S. for around $50,000.