If you’re someone who thrives on connecting with other people, enjoys multitasking, and feels comfortable with both data and writing, communication management may be the perfect field for you to explore.
Communication managers handle all internal and external messaging for their companies or organizations, and they are found across a multitude of industries and sectors, as the role is vital for most businesses to succeed.
To learn more about communication management, the education required to enter the field and the possible careers you can land with a Master of Communication Management (MCM) degree, we spoke with Monica Koyama, associate professor and online MCM program co-director at USC.
What Does a Communication Manager Do?
Communication management is a broad term used to refer to managing the flow of information within a company or between companies.
The communication manager oversees all company or organizational messaging to ensure it is effective and consistent, whether it be press releases and marketing reports, or even internal employee information. It’s a crucial position in any company, so you’ll find communication managers across an array of fields.
“I think in today’s age, where industries are being disrupted all the time and technology is really changing the way that businesses do work, communication is more important than ever. Whether you’re working in operations, marketing, a leadership role, whatever — the ability to work cross-functionally as well as do research, make decisions, and respond to changes in the environment is important if you’re in this kind of role,” Koyama told USC Online.
She stressed that to succeed in the typical communication manager position, you’ll need to have a solid grasp on a multitude of different skills.
“Typically, in these types of roles, you’re pitching, you’re presenting, you’re using communication skills to lead teams, you’re working to find creative solutions and you’re utilizing data. So, data analytics as well as marketing, writing and pitching, and a lot of verbal communication are the biggest skills you’d want to have to succeed,” she said.
What Degree is Required to Become a Communication Manager?
Like most careers, a bachelor’s degree is expected to become a communication manager. Koyama noted, however, that there is no specific bachelor’s degree required to enter the MCM program.
If there is a particular industry you would like to work in, it probably helps to focus on that field during your undergraduate studies — or if you’re sure you want to pursue communication in general, you’ll likely want to major in business or media studies.
Similarly, a master’s degree isn’t a necessity for many communication manager roles, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider enrolling in a program. An MCM is useful for both people with limited experience who are looking to make a career switch as well as those who want to gain the skills needed to further their careers in the communication field.
“The advantage of having a graduate degree really comes into play once you hit the manager level,” Koyama said.
That’s because a graduate program can teach you the kind of knowledge and skill sets to thrive as a communication manager that you may not learn anywhere else.
In the online MCM program at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, for example, there is an emphasis placed on leadership, mastering communication theories and making effective, strategic decisions, as well as working with both executives and stakeholders.
Students can also pursue a communication management generalist or focus the degree in three areas: marketing communication, strategic and organizational communication, and market research and analytics.
What Careers Can You Land with a Communication Management Degree?
Aside from becoming a communication manager, graduates can pursue roles in management consulting, marketing communication, public relations, social media, advertising, sales, market research, publishing, and training and development.
Koyama explained she’s seen students pass through the USC program and go on to a variety of positions, including account managers, creative directors and marketing strategists at advertising agencies, or in content creation, programming, brand development and marketing strategy at entertainment platforms.
“Those are very common roles that our students find their way to because all of those positions require the ability to be analytical, communicate verbally, build stories and come up with solutions to problems the brand is facing,” she explained.
If you’re looking to land the communication manager title, there are plenty of industries you can explore — from health and politics to business and technology. With a variety of fields, you can tackle the same kind of projects, but with a distinct bent. Working as a communication manager in a hospital is going to look a lot different than being a communication manager for a television network, for example.
There are also some businesses that are more in need of communication managers than others: “You can be a communication manager across all industries. A lot of graduates enter the worlds of entertainment, gaming, advertising and content,” she said.
According to USC Annenberg, past MCM graduates have gone on to work for an array of companies including Disney, Google, Edelman, DocuSign, the NFL, Sony Pictures Entertainment, TikTok, City National Bank, GrubHub and much more.
How Much Do Communication Managers Make, And What Is the Job Outlook?
In terms of compensation, the average communication manager salary is approximately $117,000 a year, according to Salary.com. That number fluctuates, of course, based on industry, location and job experience.
In terms of career outlook, the field is steadily growing, and while there is no specific forecast for communication managers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts media and communication occupations will grow about 6 percent in the next decade.
A communication manager is a job that’s valued across industries, which means there will likely always be a wealth of opportunities in the job market, even if it means dipping your toes into different fields.