Digital communication and media is a thriving industry, largely because of the shift to marketing to consumers online. “The reality is that everything is becoming digital,” says Carl Zangerl, Communication Director of Northeastern University’s Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. In fact, according to Insider Intelligence, 85.4 percent of internet users search for information online at least once a month.
This transition has paved the way for this dynamic field to provide strategy and performance tracking to a relatively new form of marketing. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in digital communication and media, here’s an overview of common job titles and what you need to gain employment.
Top 8 Job Titles in Digital Communication for Career Changers
Professionals hoping to break into digital communication and media are often met with many job opportunities in various specializations. Here’s an overview of eight common career paths in digital communication.
1. Brand Manager
Average Annual Salary: $102,127
Brand managers are digital communication professionals focused on marketing strategy. They oversee several business functions, such as communication channels, promotions, and market research. All of these attributes of a communication strategy are essential to understanding a company’s audience and the company’s desired public reputation. Much like a communications specialist, brand managers deal with internal and external communication channels to ensure consistency and accuracy for all stakeholders.
It’s important to note that since this is a high-paying position in digital communication, you’ll need more than a bachelor’s degree to gain employment. In fact, many of these job postings prefer a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Therefore, this is a career that many digital communication professionals aspire to.
2. Public Relations Specialist
Average Annual Salary: $62,800
Public relations specialists are often considered the face of a company. These digital communication professionals continually interact with the public and press to ensure a company receives positive publicity. Since public relations specialists influence a company’s reputation, one of the main responsibilities of this position is maintaining close, positive relationships with various members of the press (i.e., journalists, bloggers, TV reporters). They are also expected to write copy in various forms, including story pitches, press releases, presentations, and video scripts.
3. Media Planner
Average Annual Salary: $58,044
While strategists and brand managers deal with a much wider scope of work, media planners focus largely on the paid marketing efforts of a campaign. “Many times our students are asked to recommend paid versus organic search or a combination of the two to a client. I think that’s a great example of today’s media planning,” says Ed Powers, professor of the practice for the MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication program at Northeastern University. Media planners also track the performance of their campaigns to ensure their initiatives are successful.
4. Communications Specialist
Average Annual Salary: $55,921
Communications specialists, while similar to public relations professionals, deal with a company’s internal and external channels. In addition to creating content that builds an organization’s public reputation, they are tasked with various forms of internal communication, including company newsletters, organizational initiative messaging, and department-wide announcements. In many cases, communications specialists coordinate with executives and stakeholders within the company to communicate high-level messaging.
Average Annual Salary: $55,625
Copywriters primarily write content for advertising and marketing campaigns. This copy appears in various forms, including print ads, scripts, websites, and more. Despite their focus on content creation, copywriters are also responsible for brainstorming and pitching marketing ideas to clients or company stakeholders. These roles require strong research skills and an understanding of industry and competitor trends in a given field. Copywriters are also expected to develop and maintain a distinct brand voice to ensure their copy effectively connects with their ideal consumers.
6. Marketing Communications Specialist
Average Annual Salary: $53,993
Marketing communications specialists create messaging that informs, educates, and persuades customers to buy a company’s product or services. Some of their common responsibilities include coordinating promotional materials for various channels, producing marketing copy for a website or newsletter, and gathering customer feedback for future innovations and improvements. Digital marketing professionals are also responsible for tracking a company’s marketing initiatives’ key performance metrics (KPIs) and return on investment (ROI).
7. Social Media Specialist
Average Annual Salary: $51,584
Social media specialists focus on their social campaigns’ impact on a company’s success. They strategize, engage, schedule, and experiment with various social media platforms and social campaigns to help raise brand awareness. Social media specialists need to engage with a company’s audience on social by creating content that resonates with them and optimizing each platform’s algorithm to ensure content is posted at optimal times.
8. Web Designer
Average Annual Salary: $50,859
While web design isn’t a traditional communication role, it’s a growing industry in digital communication and media. Since every business needs an online presence, a web designer’s main responsibility is to make the company’s website look good and function properly. They use various design programs to create visual elements alongside their user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) expertise to build appealing online experiences their customers will understand. After the initial design launch, web designers are expected to maintain the page’s integrity throughout its life.
What You Need to Land Your Dream Job
If you’re interested in landing one of these exciting jobs, it’s important to consider taking the necessary steps to become an attractive candidate in today’s job market. Here’s a closer look at what you need to succeed in this field.
A Strong Portfolio
Building a strong portfolio is one of the most beneficial initiatives any professional can take when entering a new field. In digital communication and media, past experience and work examples are even more important because they speak to a prospective professional’s ability to write compelling content, create meaningful relationships with clients, or understand the metrics needed to measure a campaign’s success.
Since several employers, and even internship programs, require some level of previous experience, it’s recommended to find a degree program that understands the value of portfolio building. Northeastern is an excellent example of this type of institution because it prides itself on leveraging experiential learning opportunities. “Ultimately, we want our students to walk away with the answer to the employment question, ‘What experience do you have?’” Powers says.
Experience with Common Industry Tools
Understanding industry tools is essential to success in any given field. For digital marketing, these tools can range from design software like Adobe to popular content management systems like WordPress. There are several systems, however, that many students don’t have the chance to work with before starting their careers.
For example, HubSpot is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that integrates resources companies need to connect marketing, sales, content management, and customer service. As an education partner of HubSpot, Northeastern is an excellent place to acclimate to industry tools in the comfort of an educational environment.
Developing in-demand industry skills is an essential component of preparing for a career path. Despite many professionals advancing their education with the intent to develop industry competencies, not all degree programs achieve this. This discrepancy is especially true in bachelor’s completion programs.
“Many times, bachelor’s students work full-time. So while they want to complete their degree, they’re also really interested in developing a wide range of communication-related skills,” Zangerl says. Therefore, it’s important to find a degree program that understands how to build on past and current experience to ensure each student has a well-developed digital communication skillset.
Northeastern considers each student’s interests and past experiences to set them up for success in the program. “Since our program is more flexible than most, we’re able to tap into students’ skills and hobbies,” Powers adds. For example, one recent digital communication and media student had a background in photography. “We took that skill set one step further and made that student the photo lead on a project, creating video and photo content for a client’s social media, to help build those skills and their portfolio.”
Choose The Career Path That’s Right For You
Choosing the right career path doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are ample opportunities to experiment and learn new roles under the guidance of industry experts in experiential education, like Northeastern’s Digital Communication and Media bachelor’s completion program.
Northeastern helps its students determine which long-term career path works best for their personal and professional goals. “We develop both specialists and managers,” Powers says. “Some of our students know they want to be a web developer, copywriter, or PR specialist. However, we also have folks that can see the bigger picture and oversee and track the research, strategy development, and client relations. So our program doesn’t limit students.”
Interested in learning more? Visit our Digital Communication and Media bachelor’s completion program page to discover whether this is the right path for you.